by Tom Lee Published 06/06/2012
"Fantasy is being able to see what is beyond reality. If we don't understand what is in front of our eyes, perhaps we're not looking hard enough" It may sound strange to start this article off with a quotation; however, it is a big part of my psyche when it comes to tackling fantasy portraiture.
All artists should recognise the importance of 'mantra' - a word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating spiritual transformation". The recent Societies' Convention in London allowed me to fulfil my own spiritual transformation in the project Innocence Turned.
I have been fascinated with swords and sorcery from an early age and with the advent of computer generated graphics, works such as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings have become a reality. Much of my inspiration for these images comes from these fantasy tales, Norse legend and also the works of the Spanish artist, Louis Royo.
With the decline in demand for wedding photography, I found a huge hole in my regular business schedule which has necessitated some business remodelling. This was an ideal opportunity to undertake the project that I have had in the back of my mind for several years, but never found the time to carry it through due to client commitments.
This was never going to be a quick portrait session and turn out a few prints...far from it; this was to be an epic production worthy of Cecil B Demille.
So how do you take on such a project and where do you start? Any project of this size needs a raison d'ętre - reason for being. I already had the genre of fantasy and based it around a blend of medieval fantasy and Buddhist teachings, with a large slice of my own imagination. Before picking up the camera I researched the numerous moral and virtuous teachings of Zen and Buddhism, then reworked them into a more rounded tale of good versus evil.
Once the story had been fleshed out I needed some way of keeping track of my progress. The easiest way of doing this was in storyboard format, imagining my characters playing out the written elements in picture form to convey an ideal. I opted for an ambitious 20-print fine art collection that could be sold through my online gallery.
After the storyboard was complete I could set about gathering a team that was capable of undertaking the project, bearing in mind it would not be finished after one day's shooting! The timeline was to be over a six-month period, allowing for four separate studio shooting sessions, image preparation and printing. Finding people willing to commit to something over this timeframe was difficult when they themselves would have other commitments.
I had a model and make-up artist pretty much on board but was missing some other key elements. These included a snake wrangler, (snakes and other animals) - oh, and yes, another principal mode
There are 286 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 20th January 2021