Over-saturated colours, neon lighting and elaborate editing: Bella Blu’s photography is ethereal and unearthly
Having completed work for Asics, Tommy Hilfiger and The Perfect Magazine, Bella Blu’s distinctive photography is taking the fashion world by storm.
- Olivia Hingley
- 11 February 2022
For London-based photographer Bella Blu, the post-production is more important than the physical act of taking her photos. “It matters less to me what I see through the viewfinder and more what the view could become once it is on my computer”, she explains. “The vision for the image sometimes feels more important than the image itself.” Approaching the post-production process much like she would a painting, Bella relies on manipulation of her images to achieve her trademark style; “sometimes I add very little, sometimes I completely transform an image.” And, with her hazy, image-bending and hypervisual editing, there is no doubt that Bella's dedication to post-production is what makes her work so impressive.
Being more inspired by the “the ideas behind images”, Bella’s central themes of abstraction and manipulation also extend into her creative philosophy. Weaving in ideas from her “vivid” and “complicated" dreams, Bella isn't interested in using her photography to replicate reality and instead she wants to look for new otherworldly and unexplored perspectives, truths and even dimensions: “I want to make work whilst I’m on this earth to communicate with the past and future. It’s like a message through time.”
When the pandemic hit, the photographer was living in Italy where she was studying for a degree in multimedia arts. With the lockdown severely restricting her photographic practice, leaving her with no subjects and no means of developing analog film, Bella was forced to switch up her approach. Turning to digital photography and developing a series of self-portraits, Bella discovered a completely new way of working, and quickly realised that “limitations” allowed her creativity to flourish. Allowing her to explore questions surrounding her “existence”, the period for Bella was “the key to the beginning of my understanding of self and expression through image making”.
But, alongside her introspective practice, Bella relies heavily on teaming up with other creatives: “Collaboration is a unique mode of connection and communication which is essential for the cohesion of my life and work.” In the summer of 2021, she teamed up with director Odunsi on his film Half A Tab. Through her stills, Bella told an “alternate, parallel story”. Shooting using an on-lens filter and wide lens, in the editing process, Bella “pushed everything in different directions – wherever each image took me”. Describing the whole process as “magic” the surreal, cinematic and distorted images expertly replicate the feelings and sensations of a nightclub experience.
A brilliant representation of Bella’s ability to bring her distinctive style into her editorial work is her project with LuisaViaRoma x Asics. Originally meant to be shot in a studio, Bella and her team instead decided to capture the summertime in some “crazy beautiful locations in the Tuscan countryside”. Working with stylist Feyi, whose clothing and accessorising was a “perfect match for the shoe”, the process was about as energetic as a photoshoot can get. “We ran all day through some beautiful gardens and fields. Literally we ran, as we had given both models a character and a situation, so I followed them as they improvised on the storyline.” This sense of movement and energy comes across amazingly in the series, only to be (of course) enhanced by Bella’s editing. Wanting them to look “sculptural yet fluid”, Bella added wobbly, psychedelic visual effects with strong highlights resulting in a “photo-painting” style. So arresting, unique and well-formed, Bella’s photographic practice is a lesson in taking your creativity that one step further.
Bella Blu: The Perfect Magazine (Copyright © Bella Blu, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.