Al Maha Resort .
Mirjana Zigic Khairallah was born in Serbia. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.
During her high school days, she had a love for fashion magazines. Mirjana’s bedroom walls were covered with images from fashion editorials and her schoolbooks too!
At the time she never imagined herself becoming a model. Although she had a passion for fashion and photography she never imagined that one day she would herself be a model covering front covers of the glossies of the fashion industry, let alone become a photographer.
In 2001, Mirjana was selected to represent Serbia and Montenegro at the renowned Ford model agency’s “Supermodel of the world” competition that took place in Miami. That was the spark that ignited her modelling career and travelling the world working in Milan, Paris, London, Vienna, Munich, Singapore and Istanbul her last and final stop was in Dubai. She had the great opportunity to meet and work with various talented internationally renowned photographers.
Mirjana was able to put all the experience she gained in her days of modelling together with learning and assisting New York-based photographer Lindsay Adler. She soon realised her true calling in life was to become a photographer and within a year, her work was published in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Viva and various other women’s magazines. Now she just can’t put her camera down!
Mirjana’s style of photography captures the natural beauty within each subject she photographs. Her work is natural, simple, classic yet elegant. She says, “ I love to capture the beauty within and to get the best out of models in a very natural way.” Inspired by nature with its simplicity and beauty Mirjana often shoots outdoors utilising the charm and grace of natural light…
Mirjana Khairallah’s official site.
-Did you always want to be a professional photographer?
It happened spontaneously! When I became a mother I didn’t imagine myself as a model anymore. I knew If I stop doing modelling I’m going to miss the studio and to be part of a creative team.
I enjoyed being on the set even when call time was early and working hours were long, once I would see the final satisfactory image(s) I would forget everything. In parallel, I was taking pictures of my children and creating stories around them. I knew I liked photography but to become a professional photographer was completely something that wasn’t in my plan! I became interested in learning how to use a camera manually and from there, my learning journey started. I was very lucky being based in Dubai and thanks to “Gulf photo plus”, I had access to the best international photographer teachers like Lindsay Adler…
Most of my friends were models and I started to do test shoots with them. When they would see the image on my camera screen, they would get excited and would put more effort into posing and would never complain whatever makeup, hair or clothes I would suggest.
That relationship gave me some emotional boost and motivated me further, unleashing my inner energy and love of the lens. I was many times photographed but not many photographers were able to capture my beauty the right way! Certainly, my aim was making sure that my models are looking the way I wanted to be photographed and it made me realise that for me it comes so naturally and in order to get the right image, nothing is difficult. Even If I have to carry heavy equipment, jump up and down desert dunes, drive off-road or climb mountains & trees…. That must be love!
-What words best describe your style of photography?
Natural, beauty, nature, simple, elegant.. Like they say in french, “La simplicite fait la beaute.”
-How has your experience modelling influenced the way you photograph others?
I treasure those moments, especially working with one of my favourite photographers Cuneyt Akeroglu, David Bellemere, Susanne Spiel… as a model I thought they are very demanding with posing, my body would be in pain from difficult poses but only that time I made my best pictures! I’m so thankful for those moments which thought me that without hard work from both sides you can’t get it right. It is ok to be demanding and if only one thing on the shoot is not right hair, makeup, styling, shoes, lighting, pose, model, expression, it will show in the picture! Everything has to click perfectly in order to get image which will make you proud!.
-What was it like working as a photographic assistant for Lindsay Adler?
It was amazing! You have so many photography teachers but to find a teacher with such an ability to pass knowledge to others and with a portfolio like she has it is very rare. She is like a book, every second you spend with her you can learn something new. Lindsay is very passionate about teaching and generous when it comes to sharing her knowledge and experience. She was always very supportive of my work and encouraged me a lot!.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
Generally I have 10-15 images per shoot for retouching and I always shoot Raw files into CF card to obtain the highest possible image quality for my clients. I use Lightroom and Photoshop for post-production. In Photoshop, first I start working on the skin, most of my time using dodge and burn. To fine-tune my retouched images, I use Alian skin Exposure 7. I love to make new presets and experiment with the colour. When I apply certain presets, I have to feel something and that is the sign that I got it right! .
-What is your dream project?
It is more destination shoots, like my ELLE cover page done in Paris!
-How would you advise someone just starting out in fashion photography?
During my modelling days, especially before the digital era, countless times, photographers and assistants would walk around me setting up the lights while I was sitting surrounded with softboxes and reflectors not knowing what is going on. They would spend hours and hours adjusting the light, especially for big advertising campaigns. Seeing that I thought photography was very complicated. In my case modelling had advantages and disadvantages like any career and because of that, it took me more time to believe I can do it! Once you know that’s what you like to do and makes you happy, nothing can stop you! You just need to believe in yourself and that everything is possible! No one can know without learning, no one can learn unless they try …
-How do you approach posing or directing your subject?
Most of the time, I’m using a mood board. I think it is very important and I remember as a model when an art director would show me a mood board, I knew exactly what I have been asked and what they were expecting for me. Very often on the set I change the rolls with my models and show them how to sit, how to cross the legs, where is the best hand position. If I don’t know the pose, I try a few different once and something comes up.
-What is your general guide when it comes to lighting?
My general guide is my mood. If it is not a job and where I’m able to have freedom, I like to experiment with lights and modifiers. It all depends on the model’s makeup, hair and styling and what I think at the moment which lighting would go the best. In general, I love to use a beauty dish with honeycomb grid and zoom reflector as a key light, softboxes just for fill light.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
Follow your dreams, they know the way!