Coming up with a shot idea?

I usually create images that are part of a series (Aerial, Dark Ballet, etc.) and most days I know exactly what I am shooting.  I may not know what the final shot will be but at least I know what series I will be working on.  There are times however when I have someone come into the studio and I have no idea at all what I am going to do.   I think I like these days more than any other because there is absolutely no guarantee or expectation that I will end up with a decent image and it allows me to experiment more or in the case of working with my friend Adrian last week it allows me to take a relook at a series that I had ended a long time ago and apply what I have learned since then.

In this case when Adrian came in the only thing I knew I wanted to do was use a large light source that I designed to emulate beautiful directional window light.   Adrian has an exceptional muscle structure very much that of a Greek sculpture and I wanted to experiment with using this beautiful light source.   I had dug out a large set of custom-made angel wings that were used in the Angelus series almost a decade before and was actually bringing them to the studio to discard them in our large garbage bin.    We discussed a number of potential ideas but the thought of using the wings one last time to try and create something in the style of the Angelus series had the most appeal.  

I have to admit I had never intended to work with this series again, and after trying to get these wings to look the way I intended I remembered why.   I have worked with moving cloth, water, smoke and powder, and I can tell you none of these offer near the frustration as getting wings to look like wings.  Thankfully Adrian knows that I can take hours to get one shot and he was patient enough to put up with the numerous takes to get this to look “right”.    After almost two hours of variations were happy with the direction we were going with the look of the body and wings but there was just something missing with the story.   Angelus was always intended to be a tongue-in-cheek look at angelic art and I wanted to add something to the scene that reinforced this.   I always like to use an element that is unexpected to create a diversion and in this case we decided on a cigarette.  Ironically neither one of us smoke and all that was available in the studio was a short cigarette butt used in a shoot a few months before.  Knowing we would only get about 3 or 4 attempts at this before the cigarette was two short and that we would have little or no control over the placement of the smoke (I refuse to do post production work) we decided to leave it up to the “genie in the room” and give it a go. By the third attempt we ended up with the following shot.   

From not having any idea at all to successfully rehashing a very old one, this was one of those days where I think we did OK.   I wish I could say days like this happen often but in fact they are rare.    I hope you enjoy the image.

Next time -  Big Light Sources