by Alicia Vrajlal
The entertainment world is a feast or famine business, according to acclaimed body painter and celebrity photographer Eva Rinaldi, 38 (pictured). She says you can’t have both. Currently she’s thoroughly enjoying the feast with world exclusive photographic shoots, TV appearances and invitations from Oprah. But as she scurries around her Darlinghurst studio, she says she has battled the hardships of the industry.
“I love photography but I don’t like shooting at red carpet events when bullies are around,” she says. “I’m often the only female in the local media pits.” Sure enough, her signature high ponytail bops up among the bearded blokey paparazzi pack. But why does she still do it? Why endure the ruthless clicks, snaps, flashes and swearing of egoistic male photographers working for big name publications?
She points to a series of shots on the studio wall. There is Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of Hollywood blockbuster The Great Gatsby, looking straight into Eva’s camera lens. “It took me two months to realise that I had actually captured a world exclusive of one of the most difficult people to shoot on the planet,” she says excitedly. And that explains her perseverance.
The Great Gatsby was shot in the Sydney suburb of Rozelle, just down the road from Eva’s house. “I ended up on set half by accident, or was it by design?” she laughs. After more than a decade in the industry, she has developed a personal strategy and plays the industry pack at its own game.
“I ended up on the bus as one of the extras and then went to wardrobe. They asked me if I was the dirty cast or the clean cast. I had no idea what they were talking about so I said dirty and was then covered in makeup looking like a coal digger.”
Crawling through bushes and fences on set till 4am without pay was worth it. It’s moments like these when she forgets about rude photographers. She gets the shot, they don’t – which is what happened during filming.
She points to the opposite studio wall. There are her photographs of sassy singers Kylie Minogue and Taylor Swift. These are her favourite shots. “They have been seen all around the world on the internet. Kylie Minogue featured the photo on her website.”
The photograph of Taylor Swift is particularly striking. Eva has captured the singer midway through a famous head jerk on stage. Her blonde hair is going in all directions. Eva says the pictures continue to sell for $5000 each.
She first picked up a camera at the age of 10. “I started taking photographs around the house, and then took some photos of the toilet. I wasted the entire film on the toilet. My dad found out when he developed the film and I got into trouble.”
Leaving school at the age of 15 to work on the family farm, Eva immersed herself in picturesque surroundings. She’d snap away in her spare time.
But as much as her celebrity photography pays the bills, Eva’s studio exists for unrelated purposes. It is the headquarters of Human Statue Body Art, a business she established in 1997. After admiring those celebrity images, one could forget this woman has another career. She certainly doesn’t need it financially.
She points to a pot of paint and set of brushes. She is eager to talk about body art. In fact, if she had to choose one career for the rest of her life, photography wouldn’t even cross her mind. “It would be body art. I help get the visions someone has in her mind onto her body. You have to create it before you can photograph it.”
Eva’s body art business includes painting of bodies, creation of costumes, head pieces, props, statues and temporary tattoos. This is her busiest time of the year. “Leading up to Christmas is crazy. We are catering for staff Christmas parties, festivals, dozens of conference and trade shows, private events, VIP events and New Year’s Eve parties.”
Despite time away from the red carpet, Eva’s body art business still attracts the stars. She recently painted Sydney breakfast radio host Wippa in gold for Nova’s ‘Golden Slipper’ comedy stunt. And remember those Oprah invitations? Eva was invited onto Oprah’s talk show in Australia in 2009 to paint her body. However, the temperamental nature of showbiz meant that the hype fizzled out and Oprah pulled out of the agreement.
As she walks towards the rear of the studio, Eva picks up a thick binder. Her client list is studded with stars. “We get everything from the world’s biggest entertainment and corporate brands like Warner Bros, DC Comics, Marvel Entertainment, Disney, Foxtel, Olympic Games, Australasian Gaming Expo, Take40 Australia to NRL sports events, the Art Gallery of NSW and fashion labels.”
However, the real stars in Eva’s life are those closest to her heart. “Fortunately, I have a great team of people who help me get everything done. It’s a family-based business. My partner Greg is my media and communications director – and driver,” she laughs. “One of my brothers, Vince, is the real artist in the family.”
Now that she’s taken celebrity shots in tinsel town, she’d like to turn the camera around and enjoy the ride with loved ones. She dreams of her own reality televison show. “It would be called Human Statue Body Art – The Grit Behind The Glamour.”
Again, she refers to the entertainment industry as a “feast or famine” business. And clearly Eva Rinaldi is hungry for more. “The show would be a massive TV ratings hit and would become famous around the world if we decide to do it.” She is ready to give the Kardashians a run for their money.