Monthly Archive for: ‘September, 2012’
Second camera: Sael Simard
Before my Von Wong does Europe tour, I put together a crazy photoshoot with Montreal Based Stripper Suntory to attempt to put together a couple of unique shots of him suspending himself in chains. This was a very challenging shoot to put together as we required a bunch of elements that were not necessarily easy to obtain.
- A loft with metal beams that we could suspend a person and a couple hundred pounds of weights.
- Some sort of support system
- Large industrial chains
Initially, the original plan was to find some sort of an abandoned building and suspend chains from whatever we found there… I’m quite happy that we decided to go with the safer option of renting a friend’s loft for the afternoon as there would have been no way that we would have managed to drag the chains into an abandoned building (which weigh A TON) or find a safe way to suspend them.
For the industrial chains, Suntory did some research at the gym he was attending to actually got the huge chains used to suspend the massive punching bags and we came across http://www.chainestraction.com/.
We took the time to call them, drive over to see what chains they had available they could lend us. The folks over there were actually quite friendly and gave us a really sweet deal on a 3 day rental on the chains.
Finally, we had to figure out how to have the entire thing hanging from our ceiling so we had a specialist come in, check out the ceiling beams and solder some big chunks of metal together to make this whole thing possible.
I have to admit, the entire experience was quite stressful not quite knowing if our home brewed solution was actually going to work… but it did
From there, we had to figure out how we could transform a very yellow asian man into a silvery statue. This is where Jessica Renahan, a fabulous makeup artist came in with a solution.
She prepared a mysterious concoction by blending Vaseline, acrylic, oil paint, charcoal powder all together to get the effect. Initially, we didn’t get the blends quite right and Suntory was so covered in Vaseline that he was slipping all over the place and the Vaseline had a tendency of clumping up in odd places so we rubbed down the Vaseline as best we could and covered him back up with a whole bunch of charcoal powder that really gave him a proper matte texture.
In addition to the makeup, we had to have Suntory actually dehydrate his entire body to accentuate his muscles even more. Three days before the shoot, Suntory tightly controlled his diet in order to slowly and safely dehydrate himself to increase his muscle definition.
And last but not least, lighting. I threw my lightstands up as high as they could go. Using my Paul C Buff. extra large softboxes, I could get some pretty decent body coverage… almost 10 feet into the air but that was unfortunately not quite sufficient to get any sort of lighting from the top of my model.
The solution –> Clamping a couple speedlights on the ceiling using a pair of nifty Nasty Clamps
To help increase muscle definition in a photograph, it’s always important to remember that harsh directional lighting is what will make the difference to help increase that body definition.
Note: for those wondering about the black background, we actually suspended a 10 foot wide black backdrop onto the ceiling using a combination of gaffer tape and backdrop stand! Unfortunately no BTS footage was captured of the setup
Note#2: Any jewellery designers out there want to transform these photos into works of art? Hit me up!
Photo: Benjamin “Von Wong”
Makeup: Jessica Renahan
Assist: Kaleena Jay, Nadia Zheng
Video: Sael Simard, Laurence Turcotte Fraser
I was asked about a month back by Simon and Chantal to create a crazy family portrait of them. They had seen my work in the past and wanted something equally exciting for themselves so I headed over to their place to figure out what exactly it was that they wanted.
Turns out they have a beautiful blank vertical piece of wall around their house that they absolutely wanted to fill with a huge family print so we toured the house and finally settled on their staircase as the perfect location to begin the family portrait.
The idea was to create something vertical, dynamic, a touch of surrealism while capturing the spirit of the family. In our case it would be Simon, calmly reading his newspaper as Maude juggled laundry, breakfast and kids all at once! (And yes you heard correctly in the video… those eggs are real, we froze them )
As with any composite shot, the first step was to make sure we had a well lit background reference image to start off of.
From there, we shot Simon who was the most seperated and the easiest to shoot from the action. If you’re studious you’ll notice that the lighting hitting simon was slightly different and the reason we could allow for that was because he is completely separated from the action above. I wanted to be sure that he was well lit so we had a diffused beauty dish coming in from the top along with a Nasty Clamp’ed SB-900 from above.
The next step, was to shoot mom. Of course the most complicated but we also needed to know exactly where she would be to place the kids in the right place so it was the next big step. As you can see in the video, we had to use both a hockey stick, and a broomstick with some fishing line to hang all our products up. Yves did a great job there to be our very own levitation device. As you can notice in the BTS shot, one flash was clamped onto the window to simulate windowlight!
I think the toughest part here was really get Chantal to look like she was convincingly waltzing down the stairs! It took a little bit of balancing and lots of laughs but we were eventually quite happy with this one!
From there, it was time to suspend Xavier from the railings. Of course we had to be sure that he would be safe so we had both parents discretely holding him from the back so we could easily remove him from the shot while Yves stayed underneath as additional security.
Maude was the final piece of the puzzle and also the youngest so we had a challenging time getting her in just the right position but in the end we got this one that we were quite satisfied with ! Once again, Yves playing security on the bottom to catch Maude should anything happen.
With all these pieces in place, it was time to play with some photoshop magic and throw in a solid white wall in the background to get rid of the distracting windows in the back, a nice window flare and some contrasts! Voila! Nothing particularly complicated.
To learn more about how to do this type of editing, simply google “composite” or “masking” and you should come about something quite close!
I’ve been receiving a lot of questions lately on who I am, what I do, how I do it… so I figured I’d throw together a 15 minute interview on myself for you guys! Since I had recently written an article on inspiration for Kwerfeldein, I figured I’d throw up the english version over here on my end of the world. Combined with the fact that PetaPixel requested an interview with me I figured I’d merge the two topics together and make this video. It’s quite challenging filming and editing things yourself so I did the best I could here….! Sorry for the “ums” and “has”… I’m still working on my camera face !
To commemorate this interview, I have whipped out an extremely old set of images I had taken in the past and finally completed a concept that I’ve had running in my mind for the longest time. These portraits of me were actually shot somewhere in Feb. 2010… the background in Israel on March 2012 and finally all spontaneously thrown together in Sept 2012.
The message? That we are the sum of our experiences. Good, bad… they are all a part of who we are today. There is no need to fear what is to come… we’ll get through it.
That’s it for now! I leave you with my article on HOW I FIND INSPIRATION.
As a creative artist, I am often asked: How do you come up with such crazy ideas? How do you find the people to participate? Where do you find the time and the energy?
The answer is one word: Inspiration.
Inspiration is paramount, for without it, we cannot create. It is the momentum that pushes an idea into motion. That starting point before you even pick up the camera. Being open to inspiration is to wake up in the morning and feel excited to be alive. To look at the world as a place of endless opportunities, and have the energy and drive to follow through with them. Being inspired is like being in love – it moves and transforms you.
“The Agonist” – Behind the Scenes with Video
Before continuing, let me introduce myself. I am a 25 year old self-taught photographer who spontaneously dived into photography following a break up in November 2007. At the time, I was working in a Gold mine in the barren deserts of Winnemucca, Nevada, and decided that taking pictures of the beautiful night skies would be a great distraction. The journey began with a trip to Wal-Mart.
Most recently, I quit my job as a Mining Engineer to pursue my passion. I do not consider myself an expert so what follows is merely an opinion. However, it is my deepest hope that these words help inspire and excite your own desires.
What If I am not Inspired?
The answer is simple: Get Inspired.
The truth, nobody is always inspired. Not me and probably not the artists you aspire to, who craft ingenious masterpieces. Passionate individuals are especially cursed as the waves of up and down swing greater than average. The exhilarating high that you get from creating invariably leads to a resounding low or a disappointment when the latest project fails to meet your expectations.
What separates artists who stand out from those that fade away is perserverence – the ones who continually innovate and create in spite of any challenging obstacles.
How to get inspired?
Everyone has his or her own way of getting inspired. Personally, I believe the best way to become inspired is live life. Get out there, meet new people, and listen. Everybody has a unique story, and more often than not, these tales can trigger emotions which may inspire you.
For instance, the image below shows the outcome of meeting with a fan for coffee and a brainstorming session. While chatting, she slowly opened up to a burden of pain and sadness brought on from the death of loved ones. The raw emotion transformed into a concept, which grew into a photo shoot. There was no way I could have discovered this idea alone. Yet, by taking a chance, meeting new people and listening, I was able to reveal empathy and facilitate healing with a creative twist.
Collaboration with Chester Van Bommel via artsome.be
Alternatively, looking within can also yield surprising results. I have always found emotions to be a great muse for creativity. Heartbreaks in particular have always been an impressive source for innovation. It is not easy, you have to force yourself to get up in the morning and focus on transcribing your emotions into art. Once you get into motion, you will be amazed at the things that you can accomplish. For it is useless to remain fixated on something that cannot change.
While being in this state can be absolutely fantastic for creativity, chances are you probably don’t want to spend your time in permanent heartbreak. The key, I believe, is to learn how to experience that same burst of creativity while in a state of happiness and peace.
Whatever your case may be, whether you have the strength to believe in yourself or not, inside of you lies the key to unlocking your inspiration. You just have to look for it.
Still not inspired?
Start to surround yourself with passionate individuals.
There is something incredibly infectious about a person who is passionate about what they do. Find people that relentlessly strive to perform and succeed because their drive and dedication to persevere will rub off on you too.
I recently crowd-funded a tour to travel through Europe and had the opportunity to meet up with some of these very passionate individuals. One instance was putting together a shot for Dave Reynolds, the director of the Underwater Realm. At 26 years old, Dave not only gathered an entire crew of people to shoot a series of underwater shorts probono, crowd funded over a 100,000$ for his project, but also developed new equipment and techniques to facilitate the whole process of shooting underwater.
Another moment was meeting with Andrey DAS, one of the pioneers of fire breathing in Paris, France. He had spent the last 9 years of his life building a community of pyrotechnicians and developing new spitting techniques to share with those around him at no profit whatsoever.
“Epic Pyrotechnician” – Behind the Scenes Video
Both artists find inspiration in art. They have an innate drive to push the boundaries and use their talents to the fullest potential. Concepts and ideas thrive in teams, and those who dare to dream can help make yours come true.
Alright! I got this. I have the most brilliant idea ever. Now what?
Convince the people you want to participate in the project that your idea is undeniably the most brilliant idea ever! A couple tips that can help you along the way:
- Believe in your project. People pick up on that passion and drive. If your eyes are shining with enthusiasm and confidence that this is THE project of the year, people will get hooked onto that. If you’re confident in your project’s success, let it show.
- Show a good track record. Showcase past projects that have yielded good results. It does not matter if the projects are slightly unrelated; people are looking for proof that you won’t be wasting their time. If you happen to be starting out and don’t have very much to show then consider starting small. Build that track record.
- Make it about them. While your projects might be amazing, people are going to want to know what’s in it for them. In creative collaborations, people are donating their time and talent and will be expecting something in return. Whatever you’re offering, whether it be a unique experience or a portfolio piece, make sure you emphasize what they will gain from their involvement.
- Delegate. It can become overwhelming when there are too many pieces to hold together. Try to delegate responsibilities, give people additional tasks to help you with the project. Not only will this lighten your own workload, it will also make people feel included and acknowledged.
- Follow up. Although people may become enthusiastic about your project you have to remember that you are the glue holding the whole thing together. Make sure you follow up with your fellow artists to make sure they are still on board. It is your duty to keep that excitement going. Let them be aware of the progress to keep the momentum alive.
“Les Artisans d’Azure” – Behind the Scenes Video
Last few words…
I hope that these words will inspire you. I think that the key to starting something is to simply start it. People have the tendency of doing things “later” and they never get done. If you have an idea in mind, give yourself a deadline and make it happen. Don’t worry about making it perfect right off the bat… you will make mistakes, guaranteed! You will also fail at some point in time, so accept that reality and try anyways. Whatever it is you want to do in life, start today. Don’t wait until you’re old and your life becomes a series of should haves.
“Ballerinas from the National Slovak Theater” – Behind the Scenes Video
Learn more on…
- Blog: www.vonwong.com/blog
- Youtube: www.youtube.com/thevonwong
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/vonwongphotography
- 500px: www.500px.com/vonwong
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/vonwongphotoSpecial thanks to Kara Jeffery for helping me proof-read this article !
Hope you enjoy this weeks video. This week we bring to you Part 2 of our shoot with Ballerinas from the National Slovak Theatre! I tried to make things a little bit more technical for this weeks blog post video so let me know if you preferred this or if you liked it more casual! For those of you that are curious, the software that I used at the end is a nifty online diagram drawing sotware also known as Sylights who happens to also be one of our Von Wong does Europe partners. It’s a fantastic tool!
As mentioned in the video the setup is rather simple. The idea is to have a bunch of large but harsh light sources that rim your subjects from all direction. Front, side and back. There was no magical ratio for those of you wondering! It’s one of those feeling things for me.
When I build a lighting setup, rather than follow a pre-scripted formula I tend to build them in sets… so in our case, just having the first two soft boxes set up…followed by the frontal fill… followed by the rear speedlights! All in order Depending on how many people were in the photo the lights would either get closer or father from our set, and depending on what I saw on screen we would make small or larger changes!
For those that are curious on the precise gear we used to create these shots:
- 2x Linkstar 300 Watt strobes
- 1x Linkstar 500 Watt strobe
- 2x large soft boxes with grids
- 1x large octobox with grid
- 2x Nasty Clamps
- 1x Nikon Sb-900
- 1x Nikon Sb-800
- 2x Nikon Sb-700
If you’re looking to produce a similar look to these shots and simply don’t have access to studio strobes, you can recreate a similar look if you have a lot of space and some bed sheets to create large soft panels of lighting. Depending on where you place your light in relation to the body, you’ll be able to have a more or less of a dramatic feel.
Check out the final results, let us know what you think. My personal favorite? This gorgeous one of Ana and Dominik.