Our Venice Beach photographer Cary Miller creates killer images and we've asked him to share his process for his latest image, "Knife Fight".
The best way for me to visualize my motion images is to storyboard my concepts. Some ideas I come up with are pretty complicated so they might just sit in a file until I can actually figure out how to make them work.
Others just seem to "Come Alive!" Unfortunately, my sketching and drawing skills are not the best so I often grab random images from my personal stock archive to help me conceptualize the scene.
For my image "Knife Fight" you can see the storyboard I created to illustrate how the idea evolved.
Some of the preliminary footage and stills were shot in my home to help bring together different ways the image might look. Those images were then incorporated into a storyboard to be used as a blueprint for the final image.
I ended up shooting the person wearing jeans in the foreground (that's me) in my living room and placed the attacker with a knife in his hand on the Boardwalk in Venice Beach. I wanted the knife to look really scary so I bought a fake knife used in a Halloween costume.
Although the knife was rubber many people who watched me capturing the image of my model with a huge knife dancing menacingly back and forth actually thought the knife was real. I had to make sure no one panicked!
As most people know, California is going through a major drought. We are almost down to water rationing. Luckily, as I was setting out to shoot it actually rained here in Los Angeles! I knew this would not happen again for a while so I scouted for alleys with puddles and pavement with that "wet down" look... something almost impossible to locate during a drought in SoCal.
I shot several possible locations for the background. The alley I ended up using is located on Motor right off Venice Blvd and about a quarter-of-a-mile north of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. To make the background image look more in line with the lighting on the foreground subjects (and especially for the assailant image) I flopped the background. I also added a sky and moon from an old image I captured a while back on a beach in Malibu.
My storyboards sometimes take on a life of their own but when I start out with a solid direction, I'm always pleased with the end result.
Thanks, we are too, Cary!