This is such a special image to me.
(The creative part)
The thought of it came so spontaneously, I can’t even recall really thinking it through afterwards. It simply was there, a modernistic take on a classical myth, which seemed to me a very convenient way to make a point about society. It was one of those rare cases (and trust me, when your life is centered around making pictures, they do feel rare indeed), when an idea comes through from somewhere (different people would probably use a different name for this “somewhere”), but it’s also a representation of who I really am. An honest take on thoughts and ideas, which have troubled me ever since my later teenage years.
And when something like this appears in your mind you only have one choice.
YOU GO OUT THERE AND MAKE IT HAPPEN.
No ifs. No excuses. You owe this to yourself, for it’s not an obligation, but a privilege given to few and this simple observation makes it, to me, a mandatory effort for those who consider their job somehow “creative”.
And as this realization came to my mind (as many times before, actually), I instantly knew who should I call.
Emmy said yes instantly , for her own personal reasons. It’s a rare honor to have such a creative person, who “clicks” in a way so similar to yours and when she says it’s an idea worth doing, well.. I knew it’s an idea worth doing. Her art direction and postproduction simply brought the image to another level.
(the production part)
But how do you make a hill of 15 living bodies and engage one of the most well-known young actors in your country?
Be honest. It’s the first, foremost and most viable advice I could ever give to anyone. People feel it. If you’re sincere – they feel it. If you truly care about your work and this particular image – they feel it. If you suck – they feel it. If you don’t really believe in it – they feel it. Hit them with what you have and take whatever comes of it. If you’re true to yourself, it usually works and they do respond accordingly.
Leonid accepted the moment I called him and described what me and Emmy were up to. And so did everyone else.
There are times when one should really put a significant, tiresome effort in bringing together the various pieces of what he needs for his idea – that’s when character comes into play. And there are times when it just seems like his effort was meant to be and everything comes together so seamlessly and effortlessly that it feels almost spiritual. To me, they are both sides of the same coin. This happened to be the almost spiritual one.
Since I knew there would be more than 15 people on the set, I decided to make the shoot in one of the largest photography studios currently available. I also needed most of the top-end lighting there, because the relative simplicity of my scheme here called for a really high quality of light.
I knew I wanted to emulate, for the most part, a classical, Renaissance “feel” for the image, which is usually not that complicated of an effort to take in terms of contemporary imagery. Basic photography tools and understanding of the inverse square law will more than likely get you there. Theoretically.
The total amount of lighting is, I believe,
2xProfoto B1 500J
1xProfoto D4 + 4 heads
Profoto Deep Umbrella XL
2x Profoto Magnum + grids
1x RFi 4′Octa + grid
1x HR Lantern
After all, those are just tools. They do matter up to a point. Beyond that point were a number of people, who chose to believe in someone else’s vision (in this case – my own). People, who trusted me enough to spare a few hours of their time оn a day of my choosing, get half-naked in late winter and hope that something good will come of this. What more could an artist ask for, honestly?
The whole process – from welcoming everyone on our set to the final wrap took a few hours, because when you increase the number of people in your shoot, things get increasingly difficult in a geometric progression. At this point, communication is paramount, because directing a larger group of people is definitely easier said than done.
Everyone did amazingly well. This is the point where it truly shows how much you have done even before setting foot in your studio – because every doubt, every inconsistency – it’s bound to show and be felt by everyone. And when you’d been granted with the trust and patience of so many people, this is simply something you are not allowed to display. No fiddling with the camera, not too many obvious doubts about lighting, no compromises. Getting (and keeping!) the attention of a larger group of people, especially when they are put in a situation, which most of them are not accustomed to requires a strong mental effort, which, in turn, means that you can’t spare all of your thought potential on the technical part.
Photography is usually a constant juggling between left brain/right brain decisions, which is not a simple feat even on its own. When you know beforehand that you’ll have to invest a decent part of your mental strength and energy in simply running things smoothly, you’d better know really well what you are doing. Trust me, it would be beneficial to everyone.
We got the shot.
After that, it was me having to finish the CGI part for our wings (which happened to be a mixture of the hydraulics of a robot grasshopper’s rear leg, combined with some blades for the feathers of our modernistic wings).
After that, it was Emmy doing her magic. That is beyond me and probably worth a separate post entirely.
And then it was finished. A project like this incorporates thoughts, fears and opportunities, that are so diverse and complicated, that it’s a bliss to have the chance to work on them every once in a while.
After all, how else could one grow?