A letter must be delivered. There is thrill in its writing, there is adventure in the journey towards its ultimate destination. Sometimes a letter implies a conspiracy. It creates allies, lovers, enemies. Like a photograph, its hope is to put a dent in time, a longing not to be forgotten. A letter wants to be read.
This photo is called The Letter, and it's basically where the whole project really started, a year ago. I wrote previously about a photograph with dancer Iana Komarnytska where I had the idea for the project. Tatiana K and Atmo Kranti where the first people who came to mind that I wanted to work with. The idea was to create an intrigue scene, that hinted to a story. I decided to use a letter and a dagger as the main elements, and that gave me the idea of having recurring elements and characters in the photos, as you will see in the future.
Kranti is a fantastic dancer from Lebanon living in Canada. He is also a costume maker and he has a collection of original garments and artifacts from the Middle East and beyond, which we use in these photographs. In our conversation during the shoot, I was struck by his comment about the cross-pollination of cultures even on his costume. Items from Lebanon, Turkey, Afghanistan... It reminded me that the only pure thing is change. That culture is ever flowing, that trade between lands change their lives, their aesthetic. That became a big theme in The Orientalist series and my work in general.
The process of creating these photographs would dictate how I approached most shoots in the series. I had the idea for Tatiana's photo above as well as the main one. However, on location, I did find some other opportunities which were worth exploring. The one where they are both looking out at something evoked a different feeling and I considered it as my main selection. Choosing costumes with them, creating the letter as a prop, sketching the scene, finding a location and creating the light (a combination of strobe and natural light) was an exercise of crafting a vision. I also quickly notice I would need help from assistants as in any commercial shoot. In this case, I had the help of dancer Charlene Dawson, who took the behind-the-scenes photos of the shoot and helped making sure equipment, costumes and props where properly handled. I am curious to know your thoughts and how you react to the photos.