I had the absolute pleasure of working with Avant Garde last week on a couple of ideas. The first was this one, inspired by the Counting Crows classic, Mr Jones.
After playing around with lighting and various poses, we settled for something like this. The charming Avant is a ballet dancer, burlesque performer, make-up brand owning professional therapist. In fact there isn’t much she isn’t doing currently! So striking various ‘spanish’ dance looks wasn’t too taxing for her however, I loved the eye contact and confidence of this shot.
The eagle eyed among you will also notice a couple of other references to the song in the final picture.
Mr Jones is about two guys doing what I used to do a lot. Going to see a band and then hanging out getting drunk and talking about our hopes and dreams for the future. Fantasising that one day we’d be famous, popular and attractive, whats not to like?
As a footnote, Adam Duritz, The Crow’s songwriter, references a girl called ‘Maria’ in a few of his songs across different albums and nobody knows who she is. I think she’s his non-existent dream girl but it’d be ace if she was real!
Another from a shoot in a nearby woodland. This was an impromptu shot and the idea was easier to execute than the reality. Soria first had to get up onto the log which was a good 4′ off the ground and then balance while adopting different poses on a slippery and uncomfortable top! Full marks to her for persistence and grit.
There nothing remarkable about these two pictures of a snowy Lapland in Finland at the beginning of the year. However, there are two mildly interesting facts about these images.
The first is that despite both looking totally ‘normal’ they are in fact shot at the dead of night. If you look carefully there are stars twinkling through in the blue sky and there’s a yellow glow of town lights on the left of the first one.
The second point is a more personal one. The shot of the car belies the fact it was parked on at least two feet of lying snow. This was fine until we tried to reverse onto the narrow track. The wheels sank and we were left rocking aimlessly back and forwards for a few minutes trying to gain some traction, imagining knocking on a local’s door to try to locate a tractor to pull us out! Despite it being a Volvo 4×4 we were well and truly stuck there for a while!
Travelling around northern Iceland was a challenge photographically. Not because there wasn’t anything to shoot, quite the opposite, there was too much to shoot. Doing the landscapes justice and creating images that weren’t the same as millions of others was difficult.
While I was shooting landscapes I found myself drawn to the roads. They seemed to be one of the few things that seemed to add scale and a sense of drama to the shots. I ended up shooting hundreds of road shots. The black winding paths leading into these vast and dramatic landscapes seemed to anchor the shot perfectly, especially after a mono treatment. The contrast between natural and man made, the hard surfaces mirroring the often harsh vistas…This shot gives me the feeling I had when I was there.
On a recent trip to northern Iceland I was struck by the remote locations the human race choose to build their homes. Yes, many of these dwellings are working farms which at least go someway to explain why they would be in the middle of nowhere with nothing but old volcanic formations surrounding them.
The views are absolutely awesome but it did get me thinking. Living in such an area with virtually no other human life for miles around must make for a totally different outlook on life. Iceland is a well developed country but shopping for basics, ensuring there are enough provisions and essentials available in times of extreme weather must take some planning. We take diverse social interactions for granted in the UK but over there, everyone knows everyone else’s business, all of it.
Then there is the social side of things. I met a young couple while I was there, Judith is German and was well travelled before settling in Iceland for the past year. She was dating a young lad who was from a local farm. On chatting she was desperate to get him off the island to travel and see more of the world with him. She wanted him to experience other cultures and the world, open his mind. Bear in mind he had only been to the nations capital, Rejkyavik, a few times and “didn’t like the bustle”. It struck me it might not be quite as easy as she was obviously hoping. He didn’t seem quite as keen as she did although he quite fancied the UK cos he wanted to see the “funny sheep” (apparently we have odd looking sheep!).
The couple admitted that life was very different from that which I know in the UK and there were many compromises that had to be made. Judith constantly mocked it but Oli unashamedly loved the way he lived. He had great plans to buy a JCB (in much demand in Iceland) and working it all over the island. His only regret about his lifestyle seemed to be what he described as “awful New Years Eve parties!”
Whatever, the remoteness of these dwellings is a fantastic backdrop for setting scale amongst the vast volcanic landscape that is Iceland. I found myself drawn towards them like a moth to a flame and shot hundreds of frames of them.
I did a re-shoot of this one as I wasn’t happy with the previous version. The little glade I’ve known about for years and I knew it would be perfect for this one.
Location: Nr Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK