Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why Can't You Relax?!

One of the reasons I particularly love documenting the creative process on film sets is because there are always a bunch of people, each with a specific role, roaming around doing the best work possible to make a creative project come to life.  Film sets are the places where you get to see the unexpected, the original, the strange, the inimitable, the odd and everything else in between all at the same time (a bit like Life, come to think of it!). 

Last November, I got to photograph the beautiful and the musical on the film set of the Can't You Relax videoclip. The entire crew made up of one singer (Ruth Damas), 2 co-directors, a DP (director of photography),  2 lighting/technical assistants, 2 makeup artists, 1 hairdresser, 1 film set photographer and 4 dancers, came in at 8 am on a Saturday morning and left 10 hours later after a very long day of filming.

Before the day of the shoot, months of preparation went into pre-production which usually involve finding the location, the equipment, the crew members, planning the budget, the shots, etc.  And once the filming is done, everything goes into post-production where long hours are being spent editing the film, mixing the sound, adding special effects,  etc. And then when all is done you have 4 minute video ready to be show to the world!

Are you exhausted yet by the thought of how much work went into a 4 minute video?  Now can you imagine the work that goes into making a full feature film?

Relax! Just check out the video and more photos of the filming here. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

For The Love of Lace

Ever since I started doing henna, the way I look at patterns and design that surround me has changed. Suddenly, the peculiar curve of a wrought iron gate or the density of a design on a t-shirt would catch my attention like never before. And while I would  observe them intently, I would always think to myself how I could translate that into henna,  particularly when it came to the intricacy of lace.

Over the years I've accumulated images of various lace design — from lingerie to haute couture fashion —  to inspire me.  I had done a large henna lace design several years back, but I wanted to create something much more delicate and densely detailed. I didn't want to draw lacy gloves, because there is so much of that already within traditional henna.

I needed to create something really unique. Then one day, I happen to stumble upon a coupon flyer that was having a sale on tissue boxes.  The image of the box on the flyer had an interesting lacy pattern printed on it which made me do a double take.  As I examined the pattern closer, I started to imagine how I could transform that motif into a henna design and I suddenly figured out what my next henna project was going to be.  Henna lace socks!  All I had to do now, was figure out who was going to wear them!

The Muse
Sometimes, you meet certain people and you just know you are going to have the opportunity to work with them on something special.  I've had that experience several times already and when I met Miss Barbara at a corner street not far from my house, I had that same impression. I had heard her name through the flamenco community, but I never got to put a face to the name until our delightful encounter. She mentioned that she was a fan of my henna work and that she would love to pose for me one day.  With her long hair, black as rich soil, her crystalline blue eyes, a presence and a sassyness √†-la-Mae-West-with-a-Mexican-twist that could charm the pants out of anybody, I knew she would be a great model for my next henna project.

The Lace
So back to my tissue box image I went and started sketching. My sketching phase is also the part where I start digging deeper about the kind of design I want to create: what kind of lacy motif do I want?  How high do I want the socks to be? Do I cover the bottom of the foot, if so, do I cover the soles completely or do I extend the lace of the pattern? What about the border at the top of the sock; do I want it thick, thin, bold, light?  How much floral pattern do I want? Bigger? Smaller? How much negative space do I use? etc.

Once I had a pretty good idea of what kind of elements I wanted to integrate within my henna design, I had to make sure I would be able to execute them with ease when the time came for the henna session. As you can see from the example, the background of the design is not checkered, it is more like a stretched honeycomb pattern.  I spent quite a bit of time figuring out and practicing this type of laciness, first with pencil then with henna. The difficulty was in keeping a steady rhythm as I was drawing the wavy zigzag lines one by one.

If at first you don't succeed...
Before the photo shoot, I had decided that I wanted to explore the design within two different settings: one in flamenco and the other in a modernized 50s pin-up. I was hoping to find a pair of blue patent leather platform pumps, but for some strange reason, most of the shoe stores I went to don't seem to carry that particular color and style when it's the middle of January and that it happens to be -19 °C outside. Go figure!

So with resignation, I opted to purchase a pair of black platform shoes instead (probably some leftover Christmas party inventory!). When I noticed they were covered in black lace, I became a little more enthusiastic and realized for want of having blue shoes, I could set up a blue background instead and the contrast I was aiming for would still work
It was finally time for the photo shoot and everything was ready.  I wanted to start shooting the flamenco version first. Everything was in place, the flamenco shoes, the shawl, the rose petals... But as I was taking the pictures, I could feel that something was off.  It didn't fit. The henna didn't “shine” within this setting.  Things just didn't blend in. So I made a quick switch for the pin-up set-up and suddenly everything came together.

Sometime you have a clear idea, you think it's going to look great, but when everything is set, you're clicking away and you can feel that it's just not working.  That's when you have to be flexible enough let go, stay open, and remember that something else will come up.