Conceptual photography: exploring echoes of a female individual before man-made monuments in Paris.
NOTE about the video: the first 12 seconds of the video may be inaudible; this is normal.
My goal is to create a fine-art image collection of monuments created by man juxtaposed by an "unfolding" of a woman (a kind of "cloning"), each strong enough to stand as a single image.
The Kickstarter funds are sought to fund the photo-shooting process: In order to have a better control over the staging process, I must secure funding to cover professional models, as well as photo assistant fees.
Kickstarter limited edition book: if your backing is via one of the Book Pledges, you will receive a printed, self-published book consisting of at least 20 photos (or more: number depends on final funding, of course). It's a limited-edition Kickstarter kickback! The photos you see here will be in addition to final photos acquired with the Kickstarter funds.
All pledges of $25 or more get a PDF version of the book.
All pledges of $15 or more get a personally-signed postcard (quality-printed w/one of the photos from the project) and posted from Paris, France.
About a year ago I came across the following lines from a poem by Louis Aragon: "L'avenir de l'homme, c'est la femme / elle est la couleur de son âme", which roughly means "woman is the future of man / she is the color of his soul". Having just read an essay on Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, it suddenly came to me: man's search for perfection, as the standard of all things measured...Leonardo's use of woman not just as an object of art, but as an enigmatic individual as well...generations of male-made power struggles and a search for beauty among chaos...
I thought that the source of ideas from this was rich: the "unfolding" of a woman --an interpretation from Da Vinci's Vitruvian drawing--, against a man-made backdrop came to mind: a woman echoed against a static man-made monument. So I set about asking friends to pose for me to try out a few ideas.
Having enough material to compose a series, I submitted it to a few juried photo contests. This past July, a series of five photos accompanying a book proposal received an award:
This awesomeness has motivated me to continue this project.
Which monuments in Paris?
A monument can be any significant statue, building or landmark. To make a coherent body of work, sometimes a monument may have to be repeated between two photos with different models. Sometimes a monument may need to be "inferred" (for example, the Eiffel Tower is so iconic, having it at a distance, being up-close to the structure, or any part of the tower in the shot may enough to evoke it).
Some monuments in the list of possibilities are: Eiffel Tower (of course!), Pont des Arts (seen above), Musée d'Orsay, St. Michel's fountain, Notre Dame cathedral, Bir-Hakeim bridge, the Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon, Opéra Garnier, Louvre*, etc.
* The use of the Louvre's big pyramid requires special permission, which I have secured for this project's phase (read further below).
Please note that while I would love to shoot them all in the context of this project, I would also not risk prolonging its time length shooting-wise in order to make it an all-or-nothing endeavor. Nevertheless, an effort, within reason, will be made.
It is relatively straight-forward, yet laborious: identify a good vantage point with good lighting conditions, frame the scene with the camera --which is fixed on a tripod-- and take various shots with the model. There is a certain "serendipity" during this process that adds to the final photograph, in that sometimes a passerby or a bird --for example-- comes by and adds to the scene; the weather adds ambiance...things just happen!
Until recently, I had done these type of photos with a team of two: myself and a friend posing for the shots. It is difficult to carry all the equipment and props by yourself on a bus or the metro train, and asking for kind patience from your modeling friend to wait for the right time for the right light (or for passers-by to move along).
The model is not "copied and pasted" over a canned background: fixed on a tripod, the camera is configured for the framing and exposure settings required for the scene, on the scene. Like a director (I guess!), I stand behind the camera and give pointers to the model, always making sure that during each exposure there are no "visual obstacles" (such as passers-by, trash flying by, cars getting in front or behind the model, etc.)
After a painstaking photo selection process, a meticulous tone and color-balance synchronization is applied among them to compensate for time-lapse variations of the available light. After a long montage process, I frame the final scene guided by various golden-ratio composition rules (another idea borne out from Vitruvian Man), and finally apply toning.
Sometimes a monument and/or the best vantage point is under construction or repair, or the weather turns rather uncooperative and throws the schedule off-track when a subject does it for free. This means that a photo shoot is at the mercy of the elements first, and their schedules second. Rescheduling could drag on for weeks, and of course they can quit whenever they like (i.e. last minute). Needless to say, this project can be a scheduling nightmare if relying out of the kindness and availability of friends.
The photos you see here were taken with just one camera, a friend as a model, and myself...the creative process would be much improved and streamlined with a professional model and an equipment assistant, of course.
As chaotic as that may sound, that is part of the soul of this project: "serendipity" mixed with harmony.
The Case of the Louvre Pyramid
Most people don't know this, but Louvre's Pyramid (aka "la grande pyramide du Louvre") is under copyright. When I tried to upload the following photo to one of my online galleries, I was asked to get clearance from the copyright holder. I did contact them and they granted me permission to show the image as long as it was not for sale:
The right to use the image of Louvre's pyramid is essential to the series, and in order to distribute a photo containing its image, it must be licensed.
Just recently (Aug. 7th, 2012), I presented my project to the Louvre museum, and I was granted a special permission to include it in the Kickstarter limited edition book! If the reception for the images from this project result in a proposal for another, commercially-available book, I may have the option to pursue full licensing for commercial distribution, and it is my intention to credit the Kickstarter community in the first edition of a commercially-available book, should that opportunity materialize.
But first things first: I need more images, and for that, I need backing to move forward.
You! I'm already in Paris, and I'd like to maximize my time here. I already have the photo equipment, the post-processing resources and know-how, but --as I mentioned--, no funds to compensate models/willing subjects. I need to hire at least two or three, more if possible, depending on final funding. I also need an assistant to help with the equipment, which in itself will cut the on-the-field time in about half of what I have usually spent. I do have the means and contacts to carry out casting (I already have one model signed up).
So...I already have the technique, I have the contacts, I have a roadmap...and the beauty of Paris! I believe in the strength and potential of this project. Would you like to be a part of its success?
My goal is to have enough material for a series to create a self-published photo book, and I am asking the Kickstarter community for their help and generosity in making this possible.
I have estimated three-to-five weeks' time from the beginning of booking models through shooting material, another few weeks for post-processing, and a few more for final book editing. So, start-to-finish best case scenario for delivery of the Kickstarter limited edition book would be a few months, worst case may be about four (you can't rush goodness!) after funding. All book pledges will receive book production-related updates.
However, postcards and prints will be ready to be printed and sent within a few months of official project funding.
I am excited about this project, and every support pledge will mean a lot to me and those who believe in this project. And, hey, for at $15, not only do you get credit for the Kickstarter limited edition book, you get a cool postcard from Paris delivered to you!
- Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man
- Golden Ratio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio
- "A Women's World, A Better World?" book review: http://www.bluechipmag.com/bc/popular_detail.php?popular=405
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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POSTCARD PLEDGE - You'll receive: 1) My gratitude for your support! 2) Credit as a Kickstarter Backer in the Kickstarter limited edition book. 3) A personally signed postcard sent from Paris, France, made with one of the photos from the series (postage is included worldwide).Estimated delivery:
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*NEW* BOOK PLEDGE 105 - For a reward, you don't want a bunch of stuff, you just want to contribute and get a book, not even signed. KISS, so to speak. Well, you still get a postcard, a PDF, and of course, a softcover, 10x8" (20x25 cm) version of the Kickstarter limited edition book in matte paper pages (shipping to North America and EU is included; if you're elsewhere, please add $5.00)Estimated delivery:
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BOOK PLEDGE 150 - You'll receive all for 70-Dollar Pledge, PLUS: a 10x8" hardcover book, personally signed and dedicated (shipping to North America and EU is included; if you're elsewhere, please add $5.00)Estimated delivery:
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BOOK PLEDGE 500 - You'll receive all for 150-Dollar Pledge, PLUS: = A) an *extra*, signed 8x12" (20x30 cm) archival print, meaning you get not one but two prints total! = B) you will receive the larger 13x11" hardcover version of the book (instead of the 10x8" version), personally signed and dedicated. = C) Your name will be added to the "co-producer" credits.Estimated delivery:
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BOOK STAR PLEDGE - You''ll receive all for 500-Dollar Pledge, PLUS: = A) if you happen to be (or planning to be) in Paris, JOIN ME and I'll do a photoshoot *with you!*. Please note that given the nature of the project, if you're male you *must* appear with a female model (may be a friend, significant other, relative, etc.) in the same shot. Model release must be signed. Excludes travel and expenses. = B) OR: if you cannot or wish not to take A) above, you may instead have two copies of an exclusive 12x12" (30x30 cm) hardcover edition of the book PLUS a 13x11" exclusive edition book containing a dozen photos of your choosing from one of my galleries (link will be sent); both editions of the books personally signed and dedicated by me, and sent to you; printed within a month after your selection of photos is completed. = C) Whether you opt for A) or B), in addition to being in the "co-producer" credits, your name will appear in the dedication page for the Kickstarter limited edition book, as well as in the corresponding photo credits.Estimated delivery:
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