When I was first presented with the assignment of producing a cover for photo technique, I immediately began the initial and most important task of conjuring up a strong concept from which the visual image could emerge. I use the verb “conjure” because the process is both evocative and mystical with little logic.
As a beauty photographer, I look for inspiration from many diverse sources: museums, mythology, films, cultural events, opera, ballet, etc. I had just been to see James Cameron’s Avatar and was completely captivated by all aspects of the film—so much so that I went to see it twice. I was drawn to the obvious, such as the camera work, the story and the technology, as well as its subtle parallels to the treatment of the American Indians, gross neglect of our own planet’s ecosystems and Eastern inspired spiritual philosophies. For me everything came together in a marvelous way. He is a master story- teller, and I think it is his best film to date. It really resonated with me on a very personal level. Here was my inspiration!
Since my approach to photography is neither literal nor linear, I used the film as a point of departure. It inspired my choice of color palette, lighting, make-up, and of course, the fabulous feather hat by Makins, which was the basis creatively for the cover shot. I wanted everything to have that organic, wild, tribal feeling. A very important part was also the fashion. I chose a silk jersey top from Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2010 collection. I felt their animal design motif was perfect—again not literal, but very interpretative. To have used something more literal like a traditional animal print would have been, for me, too obvious. Using two subtractive primaries, magenta and green, creates a sense of color depth as the eye is unable to focus on both simultaneously. It is one of several techniques that I am frequently inclined to use in order to enhance the perception of three dimensions in a two- dimensional art form.