During my last trip to San Francisco I had a pleasure of meeting and working with trio of dancers and choreographers Juxtashade
I have a code that if some other photographer organises the shoot and connects me with the dancers I wait until all photographers from the shoot publish their work and only then I start working on mine. I usually like posting my work fast because it's like a diary for me of places I've been to and things I've done. But this time I was working with Matthew David Powell who was the one who organised the shoot. He usually takes his time to edit photographs as his approach to his art is more thought through. He's never in a rush in sharing the next day and rather would spend time 'digesting' thoughts rather than forcing work to come immediately. We are different in that sense. At least we used to be different before I started doing photography as a full time job (so now I have other priorities what I retouch first) and also digital art takes time, so there's no way I can post an image on the same day.
I was patiently waiting. It was not easy. I would tell people about this shoot and wouldn't be able to show any of my images.
Finally the day has arrived. All photographers published their work and I was free to work on mine. But let me first tell you a bit more of the state of mind I was in when this work was done and the environment I was in. It's quite honest and I'm sorry in advance if it may hurt any of my friends. I don't mean to and here is a disclaimer: "My friends are amazing. It's just me and me often feeling that 'abandoned child' feeling that leads to certain thoughts and emotions."
When I was standing there on a hill in San Francisco I had hard thoughts in my head. It was the time when I was still consumed by my demons of "failed 30th birthday" and a feeling of "my friends don't love me" along with "I don't want to move to New York" (mostly because I was feeling that London loves me a tiny bit more than New York). Right now I don't feel that way. My friends are the best form of magic I have in my life. But that day in San Francisco that was how I felt.
Then it started to rain. It was cold and windy. My feet were cold.
And then what was happening in front of me took me somewhere else. I was in France during French revolution. I felt miserable and I thought of Les Miserables and I was Cossette with a camera instead of a broom.
I took few images from different angles. I felt like spending more time on the set but the shoot was going fast because of the weather. I didn't get the image I wanted. I've got a bunch of images that would never work one at a time. I felt even more miserable about it because, secretly, I blamed other photographers that no one cared if I got my shot, if I was cold, how I felt. I don't feel that way at the moment either and I'm quite embarrased about the feelings I had.
Usually my friends are caring and ask me if I need anything else. But, I think, that day everyone was focused on their own work and the fact that it's raining and freezing and dancers are working hard. Most of the time I'm the one who's so into work that I forget everything around me except how my models feel (that is always a priority).
I wasn't sure any of that work I've done I would even share. But I treasured the work because of the energy Juxtashade had in them and it was a very important moment for my photography experience because I told myself that now I will aim to work with people with same level of energy and creativity as much as I could. It was different from working with a model or a client where I'm both an art director and a photographer. Juxtashade was creating magic of their own, they had ideas, I was there to record and just slightly direct them towards the camera.
The time has past. Emotions I had on the day weren't there anymore. I met a lot of creative people who showed me another way of doing photography, which is digital art. And I felt like this work shall be made into what I had in my mind and soul while creating it.
Here's my contact sheet edit-free of the photographs I took and considered to work on. Click on to see different images.
They was no image that would be 100% perfect form wise and I knew it leaving the set. The images I was mostly drawn too would show something like "suicide and eagerness to connect" but observing from other people rather than support system. I would choose something like this right after the shoot was done.
But few weeks of thinking made me focus on Juxtashade and their message to the world rather than my feelings and emotions on the date. So rather than showing what I felt I chose to show what the team o Juxtashade is about: support, connection and brotherhood.
So I had to combine two images together to get a final form. It wasn't that easy because I wasn't using a tripod. I think, I spent at least 12 hours drawing a mask and blending together two images of dancers.
And the result looked like this:
Then I had to add all the rest of the scene. I've been to Paris several times but my past obsession with photographing only at sunset, sunrise and blue hour/night time made my photography quite useless for my composite. So I had to buy a photograph from DepositFiles. The lesson was learnt, which is "To photograph landscapes on the overcast (=boring) days too because you never know"
This particular JPEG worked well because I didn't really need big good quality RAW file for the foreground. I used a lot of Dehaze function in Camera Raw 9 to make it a bit foggy.
Then I realised I don't have any good sky to use. So I decided to buy sky at Deposit Photos as well. Unfortunately, the sky I bought didn't work mostly because I need it to be very detailed and lots of information. I needed a RAW file. And only JPEGs are sold out. Here is another lesson I've learnt: "Photograph a lot of skies" because there won't be available to buy in RAW..
But, fortunately, my New York friends are nothing like I felt about them in San Francisco! So Matthew David Powell although he was quite ill and after a hospital visit, busy and tired, gave me all his RAW skies even though I didn't pressure on him and said I can do without just making the original image smaller.
Here is the sky that I made work:
I turned it into this:
It was possible because it was RAW, so from now on I photograph as many skies, textures, etc. as possible.
You can watch my video of composing. Just as before it doesn't include toning.
You can watch how I toned it here. Although I did use different Color Lookup: