“Circus of Doom” is a circus-inspired conceptual portraiture with the Fujifilm X-T200. “Doom” sounds scary, but “Circus” sounds awesome, so I'm slightly confused, but I'm definitely in! This is not the first time Fujifilm ambassador Jan Gonzales has been written about and definitely will not be last. I mean, have you seen his work? There is no question as to why Gonzales garners the attention that he does. His work is fun, inventive, and unique, which is ultimately what every creative should be aiming for.
Gonzales is a photographer who has always been excited about new gear. Aren’t we all? Every time he receives an email from Fujifilm HQ (Japan), he gets ecstatic. Wouldn’t we all? He gets a code name of the project at first; in this case, it was Project Andromeda, which meant he would not know what lens or camera it was until it arrived in his studio. How incredibly nerve-wracking and exciting!
New gear, mysterious project names, and a sense of the unknown: Gonzales mentioned how his mind would quickly explode with ideas of what he could shoot and what he would put together. Gonzales has a fortunate position with Fujifilm in that he is given full creative freedom on what he would like to do with the camera, something that he greatly appreciates. Again, wouldn't we all? With freedom comes expectations, though, and so I’m sure many of us can appreciate the pressure he juggles, as there is no option to fail. The hardest part is that he always wants to outdo the previous shoots that he did, which is very tough for him.
Gonzales has always wanted to do a 1900 circus-inspired concept for the longest time and was just waiting for the right timing, and this was it. He had acquired enough props through the years, and the timing couldn't have been more right when his good friend and fellow X Photographer Elia Locardi sent him a message that he would be visiting Gonzales for an episode of "Moments in Time" the same week the shoot was scheduled. In case there was any doubt, the stars lined up, and the timing was perfect! This was clearly meant to be.
Gonzales did not divulge to Locardi his plan on the photoshoot aside from telling him they'd be doing a video together. Gonzales was really grateful that Locardi was actually up for it.
Gonzales went through his usual preplanning, which starts with calling his team in for a meeting and discussing with them his ideas, while at the same time getting their opinions about it. His team plays a very big and important role with his production, and he could not imagine doing something like this without them. Gonzales really focused on the discussion with his production designer to figure out the set that they could create for the amount of time and budget they had, as it would be one of the biggest factors, aside from the subject and the wardrobe needed to properly execute the concept and tell the story.
For this shoot, Gonzales decided to use five-point lighting to make the subjects pop out on the busy background. He didn't want them to blend in. He placed two Profoto B10 Plus lights with a gridded Profoto OCF 1x3' Softbox (Strip) as his rim lights (left and right), and he used a Profoto D2 1,000 with same gridded Profoto OCF 1x3' Softbox (Strip) for hair light and at the same time, positioned to be lighting the top part of the background as well for additional separation.
Then, he had a gridded Profoto B1 with a diffused beauty dish in front and on top of the stage where the curtains were hanging (hidden from camera view) acting as his main light. He then added another Profoto D2 1,000 in front of the set, boomed high up and facing down to simulate light coming from above, and this was modified by a diffused Profoto Deep Umbrella XL to provide lighting on the curtains in front of the stage as well as giving fill on the floor area outside the stage.
Lastly, he added a Profoto B1 with a gridded Profoto RFI 4' Octa directed to the subject for fill. In some layouts, he swapped out this light with a spot modifier to create a spotlight effect on the subject to mimic actual stage spotlighting.
Lighting Setup Diagrams
Setup One Result
Setup Two Result: Main Light Changed to a Spot Projector Modifier to Mimic Spotlight Effect on Stage.
1 Spot Projector Modifier
Aerial Hoop Girl
Video BTS: Fujifilm X-T200: Leverage Yourself
Gonzales mentions how he really had a blast shooting this project and how so many different components played a part in achieving that satisfaction: the initial mystery of the project, the way it came together, and the freedom to bring his own vision to life. Oh... and the gear! Oh my goodness, the gear! He finds that the Fujifilm X-T200 is such a capable camera in a very small package and that he cannot wait for the next big project that he'll do. It will be interesting to see what other concepts he’ll come up with!
He would like to again thank Fujifilm HQ (Japan) for trusting him always and as well as his Fujifilm USA and Fujifilm PH family for the unending support! “It takes a village to raise a child,” as the proverb goes, and so, no matter how fortunate we are to participate in amazing projects, so much of it comes down to the team around us. Onwards together!
Images used with permission of Jan Gonzales