Confusing Gravity in 2012

With all the media hype at this early stage in the year over rebirth/resolutions/new year new beginnings, I start to get tired of all the canned or recycled good intentions that are everywhere.

Not that I don’t participate myself: I’ve sent out my share of those best wishes too. But as we turned the corner into 2012 and Dave and I started planning for the year (well let’s face it we were really only were planning Oriane’s daycare/babysittering) I thought to keep my plans simple. Other than shoots, I’d set specific work hours and work-out hours, worry less & play more.

So I started the year off right with a really fun and challenging shoot, working on what I’m tentatively calling the confused Gravity project (thanks Milan for that title!).  I grew up in a house where my father had a home office and for as long as I can remember he had a drawing by the artist Esher on his walls.  I remember spending a lot of time looking into the picture, never getting bored with it and always seeming to discover a new, hidden corner in the piece.

Fast forward many years later, and my personal work seems to lead toward anything with depth in the images, like the 3D Project I’ve been working on or many of the images produced by one of my fav shooters r.j. I had the idea last year to put these two things together and start a body of work that I could perhaps interest a contemporary company in and maybe do a calendar or gallery exhibit with.

Making the Background

Combine this with the happy hapensatance that my regular assistant and video guy Sasha has a background in architecture and thus is able to build the backgrounds for me… And here we go!  Sasha and I decided that we’d need to have a background designed before we could shoot. We’d need it to look at things like where the light should come from for each shot, what angle to shoot from, what types of movements to suggest from the dancers, etc etc.  What we didn’t realize at this stage was just how important having that background was to the shooting process!

Finding Dancers, Assembling the Team

Next was to ask some dancers to collaborate with, come up with a rough theme, wardrobe, and get our makeup person on board.

I chose Milan Misko to work with.  I’d worked with him previously and we had a good rapport. It was important to me to have great people to colaborate with on this project: having other artists to work with whom you respect, trust, and know you can count on for great feedback and ideas is key when there are so many aspects of each shot that need to be tended to.  As luck would have it his wife, dancer Nana was also available.  I really had a great team!

Getting the Shots

The first shots for this piece were fairly straightforward; we selected an area to work with, found some movements that looked good and appropriate for the space in the picture, then worked with the lighting and shot angle to have it all fit. The hard part came after we started looking at the shots dropped into the background; each shot needed to work in its area but also work if you turned the picture on its side or upside down!

Then, once we started having more and more shots in play, the individual pics needed to also have a cohesive feel and in some cases work together. There were three shots specifically where we rotated and re-rotated the background again. And again to get our ideas and lighting to work!  Then there were the ever wonderful pauses to check on the status of my Mac as I dropped it from the top of the 10ft ladder I was shooting from… ah Macs… they keep going and going and going!!!

The next step in the process is to tweak  and alter the background to the specs decided upon as we shot, and select and cut the dancers out of their backgrounds. Once this is done I place the images into the background one at a time, looking for any alterations that need to be made before the final placing (for example tge fan might not have picked up and floated a piece of fabric on their clothing in just the right way so this is the stage that I would make alterations to accommodate that). Once the final resting place of each image is ‘set in stone’, i begin to work with the shadows on the ground/steps/walls as they should be, and generally melding the shots into the background as they need to be.

Finishing the Project

At the time of writing this I’m about 1/4 way through the post production process here, so I can only show you partial images and concepts.  I hope to have an update in the next two weeks with a finished image.  Stay in touch as this project unfolds… it’s a big one!

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