The Circus

Posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 11:08 am

Life can be unpredictable and tough. Ask Peter about that. The guy spends weeks preparing a thematic photo shoot with 7 other photographers and the thing took a bad turn. It’s like you are on your way to the amusement park and on the way there, your car takes the ditch and you are stuck in the middle of nowhere. This sucks when you need to replace the amusement park by a corn field. Peter had it all; a great studio, 7 other photographers, props, time and models… wait… where are the models? Every time I organize a photo shoot with multiple models and photographers, I take in consideration no-shows and try to either identify backups of invite more models to come . Peter had several models lined up so a no-show or 2 should not have been an issue. Everyone can have a good reason or excuse not to show up. “I suddenly caught the flu after I posted that last Facebook update at 5am about that awesome party I was at” or “I had a fight with my boyfriend and did not bother calling you to cancel – but I hope that does not affect our relationship”. I am not judging anyone, shit happens in small and larger packages and decisions have to be made accordingly. But man, it was really raining diarrhea on Peter’s event that day.

On November 14th, I was invited to participate to a group studio shoot. The shoot was to have a circus theme to it with a number of models lined up to play different roles such as the clown, the acrobat, the lion and tamers. I had already spent a few days thinking about the images I wanted to capture. Since we were going to shoot on seamless paper, I had to adapt my ideas to that factor. Originally, I thought about David E. Jackson’s brilliant circus photoshoot called Shear Chaos Salon Circus. All the efforts put into the background, lighting, actors (because they were way more than models) were out of this world. This is the kind of images I would have like to pull out but not that day; think white seamless, a circus on white seamless. Sure, I could have photoshoped a circus background to my images but my photoshop skills in that matter would have been as efficient as printing the images, cutting the models out with scissors and hot glue them back on a circus background.

So I packed the truck one more time with more gears than any sane, non-professional photographer would pack. Thank god I was able to get the parking right in front of the studio loading dock! I walked in and my good old me-not-waste-time-socializing self started to put together the light stands, lights, softboxes, camera, laptop, triggers and was testing the light to be ready right as a model would step on that seamless. During that time, Alexandra Castronovo and Kim Collin were already in the makeup room working on the 1st 2 models who came in. I had a brief talk with them while they were sitting on the makeup and hair styling chairs about what I wanted to produce that day. With 8 photographers in the house, I believe it is extremely important to have a game plan and clear directions on what you want to have in the end on the computer screen. When I did my very 1st photoshoot with models, I was generic, I was simply just shooting away. Let see how quickly we can fill a 16GB card with an 18 megapixel camera! An hour and a half later I would have about 400 images identical to the other photographers shooting the model before and after me. “Not today. Quality before quantity. Originality before generic images.”. By originality, I don’t mean spectacular images. I don’t mean “OMG you are a GOD!” kind of thing. Simply images different than what is coming out of the 7 other cameras. Simply images that when the models would be looking back at them they would remember my face. Don’t we all want to stick out of the crowd in some ways?

I had the privilege to shoot 1st. Corey and Anastasiya stepped on my white seamless and starting to act as the knife thrower and the assistant. I believe that this alone was probably going to stick out but I wanted to push it a bit more. The theme was Circus, the concept wasn’t. I wanted to do a series about During and Afters. The characters showing their strong stage presence in front of the crowd and then their true self backstage. And of course, it had to contrast in some ways. How do you flip 180 degrees a strong, assured, confident knife thrower? Obviously, you turn it into a blood scared sissy!

The Knife Thrower – Corey Tomicic, Anastasiya Zhuravska

Then shits happen.

Suivant! Next!


Where is everyone?

This is where it hit me; I shot all the models we had already. Seriously? Yep. I came across Peter who looked quite upset about the whole thing. Weeks of preparation to come to this. One person calling at the last minute to cancel and others not showing up. This sucked, not only for Pete and the photographers but for Alex (MUA) and Kim (Hair Stylist) who were hoping to get more material for their portfolios out of a day of work.

Another model came in but given the fact I had the initial 2 models for me, I did not step up to shoot. There were 4 people already firing away at her, filling those 16GB memory cards. Instead, I chatted with Alex and Kim about everything and nothing. We talked about how Alex got sick for 2 weeks after Croydon, how pitbulls are big babies, how we each met our respective tender halves. When Alex told me that Kim was her model mayhem avatar, I looked at her “Want to get make-up on and get something out of today?”. Twenty minutes later, Kim was all glittered up and we started shooting. We started with simple fashion oriented images, showing the work Alex did on Kim. I then pulled out a scarf I borrowed from Anne-Marie (she is my tender half) and asked Kim if she wanted to be a gipsy. I had been running in circles in the morning looking for a crystal ball for this shoot and there was no way I would not use it. After a quick wardrobe change, Kim was a fortune teller. That was on my to do list; the woman who can see your past, present and future during her shift but still surprised when watching the news.

The Fortune Teller – Kim Collin

Yep, it rained brown matter that day. I am not even going to talk about what Peter had to endure when another model showed up at 7:45pm, 6 hours late and the “You can’t photoshop the images, only me can do it” coming out of the makeup artist mouth (not Alex; Alex is too awesome for that!). I spent 6 hours in a studio, shot 3 people, came back home to see that I only had 247 images on my card, including the light tests, the “Is this thing firing?” and the “Hey, you see that softbox behind you? You are blocking it…”.  Am I unhappy? I don’t think so. I have good images out of that day and I was able to deliver 2 of the 8 concepts I had in my black book.  Could it have been better?  Always, no matter what.

The car might have hit the ditch on the way to the amusement park but everyone pulled out OK, no injuries and corn fields aren’t that bad; they give you plenty of ideas for another photoshoot.

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