I remember the very first reflector from Sunbounce that I had in my tool kit. It was a beat up 4x6 GOLD/WHITE that I religiously dragged around the globe on my photoshoots. It was my go-to lifesaving tool. It served as an umbrella, a tablecloth, a bag, a beach towel, a sail, a changing station, a sweater for models and finally found its home in a village in Kenya with a local priest who fell in love with the faded golden surface that was still reflecting light. The village’s high priest could not be convinced, no matter what I said to him in order to keep my favorite tool, that it wasn't a holy gift from the gods. Well, maybe there is a Sunbounce god after all.
Since I miss my Sunbounce reflector, I was thrilled to receive quite a few different reflectors from Sunbounce for the production to demonstrate what makes my lighting style so unique and makes my images’ colors pop. I now have a Zebra, Black Hole, Zig-Zag Gold/White, Light-Grey, Silver, the unique Sun-Strip and the must have Sun-Swatter. (I have not told them yet that I am not shipping them back!)
After watching Sunbounce's existing videos, I realized they had plenty of behind the scenes and educational clips that I should not simply duplicate. I was told that the reason why I was given the assignment was because HBI CEO Michal Hejtmanek was impressed by my video "The Bow" that I produced in Santorini. As a photographer, I say no challenge is too small or too big. But the possibility of making something impressive that would live up to Hasselblad's expectations was another story completely.
Knowing that Hasselblad judges a photographer for their last best creation, I now had to raise my game. The "Bow" video featured beautiful Santorini landscapes which are very impressive and hard to beat. The model sure helped but the creativity and the concept would need to out-do the past and set the bar for the future.
One of my conditions for taking up the challenge was to have full freedom to produce my own vision. I had some soul searching and pondering to do about what would impress viewers. It would have to be something that you don't see every day. After all, HBI’s expectations were sky-high and what else would anybody expect from a leading reflector company anyway?
Most photographers are familiar with Sunbounce products. I wanted to unleash the power of Sunbounce and demonstrate the unusual but common functionalities which are mostly known among professionals. I love using natural light and with their reflectors I can achieve a perfect balance between beauty and performance.
I contacted the world famous dancer Irina Kazakova to see if she was interested in the project. And luck was on my side as she said yes. You might not be familiar with Irina Kazakova by her name and neither was I until I was blown away by watching her Russian national gymnastics team performances on TV. Since seeing those, I dreamed that one day I’d be able to work with a true full-blooded professional dancer of her caliber in a serious project. And that dream was now about to come true. Irina takes her moves and performance more seriously than any other dancer I have worked with and she utilizes it to achieve perfection.
We started with a casual meeting together at the Temple House Studios in Miami. I asked her to show me something impressive after she asked me, "What would you like me to do?” I told her to dance and forget that I was there. I wanted to see how the light and motion was going to affect and accent her beautiful form. I found myself in awe, requesting her to move certain ways while I was taking notes. It was beautiful to watch a world-class artist who has dedicated her entire life to her magical craft.
I was inspired with ideas that just kept flowing with Irina's performance. It was such a beautiful and harmonic dream-like state that I was not able to get enough of it. Some of her moves where fast and some slower. Just like photographers vary with several expertise levels, so do dancers. I was astounded by the realization that she was much better than any dancer I had ever worked with previously.
The longer I watched Irina's performance, the more the challenge grew knowing that there was no way to reflect any light on some of her moves unless I grew wings to fly alongside her magnificent performance. Then again, I thought, Sunbounce might give me the wings that I need. And they sure did.
Photographers live for great light. Everything begins with a vision and without light there would be very little to cherish. Since this demonstration is all about motion and lighting, I wanted to shoot in a location with flat lighting to emphasize how Sunbounce reflectors can be utilized to revive any lighting situation by choosing the right product.
Wardrobe also played a big role and who better than Irina herself who gave me a tour of her closet and its contents. You can imagine a woman's closet and her collections of shoes from which to choose. Never underestimate the power of wardrobe and what it can do for your shoot/production. Her red dress and the silver performing outfit as seen in the video were perfect choices to demonstrate form and beauty in motion. In general, the color red is quite difficult to light correctly as it tends to look over saturated. This is where the strength of Sunbounce becomes the king and its selective variety of reflectors is the essence.