‘Eyes of fire and heart of stone’ by Raffealla Fernando won a Special Jury Award at the IPA International Photography Awards 2022 in New York
- 11th celebrity calendar launches today
Raffealla Fernando believes that pushing the bar is a necessity, not just for individuals but for industries as a whole, and this is something that is made clear by her work over the years. Fernando is a fashion designer, stylist, and fashion photographer, and is today (11) launching the 11th edition of the Raffealla Fernando Celebrity Calendar (RFCC). She also has another calendar launching later this month, for which her photography targets a different community compared to the stars and celebrities we are used to seeing on RFCC.
Speaking to The Morning Brunch, Fernando shared that this year, RFCC features 26 artists, of which 15 are new faces for the calendar.
“Getting extremely young talent like Kanchana Anuradhi and many more on board elevates the calendar, because we are featuring young talent amidst an overall talented bunch of people. Additionally, since these are new faces and people have not seen that flavour in the calendar, they are quite keen to see it,” she said.
Another example is actress Chandani Senavirathne, who is featured in this year’s RFCC. “She has not done any shoots for the past 15-18 years and she doesn’t want to do photoshoots either, so working with her and then seeing everyone going crazy over her teaser video, eager to see her on the calendar, feels really exciting,” Fernando shared, adding that until she sees people’s reactions, it is hard to know if they really want to see a change with the RFCC. She added that actress Nimmi Harasgama is also featured in this edition.
“It’s a huge change, and it’s new for me as well. Like I said, it’s the first time that we have so many first-timers for the RFCC, so it’s a new experience for me and I’m super excited to have these people. Seeing all the feedback makes the entire team extremely happy, and I think it’s going to be quite a satisfying change once it’s done and out.”
Despite these changes, RFCC will continue to feature the best in the business at the time, balancing prominent personalities with young talent.
The highlight of the calendar this year is that it features a global icon – actress Jacqueline Fernandez. Fernando plans on promoting the calendar in India as well, a huge step for the calendar. The calendar will stick to its theme of conceptualised photography, but with different concepts and styles, with fashion and glamour in the spotlight.
“I have my first transgender representation in the calendar – Bhoomi Harendran. This time, we want to cater to a different market and also have a purpose to it, where we can empower people in a certain way, and this is why we have Bhoomi, because she’s one of a kind.”
From celebrity to corporate
She also spoke about her other calendar project, titled Dynamic Business Leader (DBL) 2023 by Raffaella Fernando. While she is initiating the project, the concept is by Hashtag Media, and Fernando said many well-known faces are featured on it. This is the first edition of DBL, but it will be a yearly project, and is the start of something new.
“It’s a completely different experience. RFCC is very creative and conceptualised, with storytelling, and then you have DBL, which is more sophisticated. It’s very different, and it’s not the usual corporate shots either, because I wanted to bring my element into it. So it’s something different, but at the same time, it’s a motivational calendar,” she said, explaining that this is the idea behind the DBL calendar.
Fernando went on to say that having two different styles of work releasing in the same month is good for her portfolio, as she is shooting two different kinds of flavours with the projects.
Going into detail about the work she did in 2022, Fernando told us that she did a promotional photoshoot of Jacqueline Fernandez for Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus, in which she stars. This was the main purpose for her visit to Mumbai, India last month, and she did a couple of shoots while there.
Fernando was also able to work on a fusion fashion film as a photographer. “There was a video and photoshoot with two models and also an actress named Supra Singh, from the teledrama industry. It was a fusion of traditional Gujarat outfits, and I was also able to do a Sri Lankan representation with the Kandyan sari – We were there to push our fashion into it.”
This was one of the most interesting projects she undertook, and she said she was able to do a very successful traditional fusion, with portfolio shoots for actors and models. Despite being a short trip, Fernando said they were able to do a lot of work, and are planning to go back and continue what they started.
Exploring talents and platforms
When asked about her experience working in different countries as well as industries, Fernando shared that she felt it was extremely important for artists to explore their talents and other platforms.
“Each country works differently. The mechanism is different,” she said, adding that she has worked in India previously as well, but her work in Chennai and Goa was more to do with fashion and print media, and not Bollywood.
She has also worked in London, Italy, and France, and shared that these countries work differently. “It’s very important that we push ourselves to work with these industries and with these people. There is so much to learn, and we become better artists with time, by working with their celebrities.”
Fernando also spoke about working with Korean actress Eugene Lee two years ago, saying it was a completely different experience.
“I feel it’s very important that we push the bar, which I’m constantly trying to do. I feel we will not go anywhere as an industry if we don’t push ourselves to do better, and we can’t do that by staying only in Sri Lanka. Our country is very small and just like the country, our industries too are still developing.”
A busy year
With two calendars releasing this month, Fernando’s year is off to a great start, and she said it’s already looking good and bright. Promising campaign shoots and more photography work will follow the calendars.
“Mid this year, I am planning to relaunch my clothing line. I’m not going to be doing custom orders anymore, so it’s going to be more retail and more approachable, where we can expand it internationally,” she said, adding that she is also planning on releasing her first book in September or October.
It’s a survival diary, she said, adding: “It’s about the different states of mental illness and photography with poetry. This is something interesting; although not very commercial, I think it will be something tasteful for art lovers. These are what I have in mind for the rest of the year.”