This shoot was an art project that Amber Gray had been dreaming of for a long time. One of the things that she often explores in her work is the relationship between feminine energy and the natural world, and this concept in particular really exemplifies that idea in a surreal way.
When asked about personal projects, Gray said, “I find self-assigned art projects and personal projects to be a great way to test out ideas and experiment with techniques before pitching them to clients. I have gotten some my biggest advertising jobs based on people seeing some creative project that I have done on my own, and wanting me to adapt that concept or execution to fit their message. There are two types of photographers out there, those that are technicians recording what they see, and those who have a vision that they are creating. I’ve always been the latter, (for better or worse).”
On a average commercial shoot, there are usually producers to help plan everything out along with substantial budgets to work with. However, as “Andromeda Suite” was essentially a self-funded art project, Gray knew that she would have put in a humongous amount of time and effort into it for it to come to fruition. She had to find the right model, a fabricator to make the glass box, and work with a stylist to create costumes from rudimentary sketches she had made. As if that wasn't enough, she then had to transport all of that to various ocean cliffs, forests, meadows, and beaches. All in a days work, right?
By the way, she had worked with the same model before where she played a mermaid in a music video Gray had shot. This is why you always give you hundred percent on jobs, as it could lead to more cool opportunities like this!
Anyway, it was clearly not at all an easy photoshoot. On the day of the shoot, the stylist assistant remarked that his activity-tracker had informed him that he reached his step-goals for the day by 6 a.m. As the results show, it was all very worth it in the end. It may have taken a lot of effort but she was able to turn a daydream she had into reality.
Thankfully she also had a very dedicated crew who had the same romantic appreciation for watching the sunrise through a glass box dangling off the edge of a cliff with a tiny blue lady dancing inside of it.
- Canon EOS 5D
- Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens
- Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens
- RED Epic
- DJI Ronin S
- DJI Inspire Pro with 12mm lens
- Custom-made fluorescent panel (floor of box)
- Battery-powered leaf blower (wind machine)
- Battery-powered smoke machine
Gray said that she's “not about the equipment” and believes that “you can make great pictures and video with just about any level of equipment.” On this shoot, she wanted the “elongation and drama that wide lenses give.” She said, “I love distortion, and felt that it worked in my favor in creating this sort of otherworldly feel.”
The lighting setup for this shoot was quite delicate because Gray didn’t want to disturb the quality of the natural light in the landscape, but wanted to bring an element of the surreal and otherworldly to the imagery. After she and her team scouted the possible locations, they narrowed it down to their top four. They then went back to said locations at dawn and dusk to see the light, and plan their positioning for the glass box.
Gray has always loved the look of under-lighting and she figured using a glowing floor would be a great way to light the subject without having to worry about reflections in the glass box. What a smart way to do it.
She also made sure to use fluorescent lighting for the glass box as it’s low in power usage. That way, they were able to get away with just using a small generator, which was immensely helpful considering how remote the locations were and how small her crew was.
Check out this video below that came with the shoot too. It's absolutely breathtaking.
Do you do much personal projects of your own? Do share them in the comments below.
Team Credits - Photographer, Director, and Creative Director: Amber Gray | DP for Video: Julian Bernstein | Wardrobe Stylist: Santa Bevacqua | Hair and Makeup Artist: Mykel Renner | Model: Claire Friesen
Images used with permission of Amber Gray.