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
- (45 days)