It is funny to consider where ideas come from. Sometimes it's a quote, like the one above, that is forever in my head. Sometimes it's a sketch, a place, a person, a painting, a story. Most interestingly, some of the ideas just come when you are on the set shooting, and the 'photographic answer' pops in your head. To me, those are as humbling and gratifying as seeing on paper the idea you had in your mind.
For the second and third photographs in the series, I had all those elements providing inspiration at the same time. I knew I wanted to involve two of my favourite dancers, Tatiana K and Atmo Kranti. In collaboration with them, we started building a concept for characters, props and costumes.
I went location scouting around the gorgeous campus of the University of Toronto and found a number of spots that would be perfect for the shoot. Since I knew I would be mixing studio lights and Sun light, I asked Iana Komarnytska to do test shots at the locations in order to determine composition, lighting and the best times to shoot. I used a great little app that shows the Sun's position at any time and any place, which determined the best time to shoot the images. We shot for about two hours, and I was able to shoot exactly the images I wanted. Since we had those 'in the bag', I was able to create a few other images which were conceptualized on the spot and ended up being interesting alternatives.
At the basis of the series, is the idea of recurring themes and elements. I wanted some characters and items to appear in multiple photographs, creating a storyline throughout the work. The shot bellow (unprocessed and straight out of the camera) shows Kranti's character delivering a knife to Tatiana's character. Although I probably won't use this particular image in the final selection of the series, it served as an experiment to test that concept.
I actually used this concept in a very modest fashion on my first fine art series, Portraits of Science, though I was not thinking of it when I decided this would be an important element in 'The Orientalist'. I invite you to take a look at the 'Portraits of Science' series and see if you can spot some of those recurring elements. "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again." I am very excited to see how this concept resonates in the creation of the project.