2 years ago, the Agonist approached me to do a photoshoot – they wanted it to be edgy, different, and to defy the status quo – the result was an explosive action packed shoot that became iconic to their name and brand.
Fast forward to today, they had a big announcement that they needed to make – a new singer had been added into the roster, Vicky Psarakis and they needed some brand new imagery to make the announcement – they called me up again.
BTS Video by Niko Sarki
The Agonist wanted to create an image that would transport the viewers into a semi post-apocalyptic world. Somewhere in which their newest member of the band could be “constructed” and introduced into the world.
Rather than go for an abandoned warehouse or something similar, I wanted something a little bit more exciting that would tell a story. The idea of shooting in a forge came up and stuck. Reaching out through social media, we began hunting for a variety of different options until I finally landed a jackpot when one of my fans, Stephane Brazeau, recommended that we check out “Les Forges Urbaines“. Negotiations ensued to get permission to shoot and finally a deal was struck.
From there, we began brainstorming a variety of different styling options. We created a set of Pinterest boards to communicate with the band and make sure that everyone was thinking on the same wavelength. I quickly realized that if we wanted this world we were creating to be believable, would need someone fantastic not just at special effects but also at prop building. I invited the one person I could think of to join the group: Montreal based SFX makeup artist Tamsen Rae.
From that point forward, we had the pieces lined up ready to move forward. We spent the better part of a week scrambling around the city scavenging any small pieces of electronics and props we could lay our hands on to prepare for the shoot. The list of props ranged from CRT monitors, to hockey gloves, to mannequin bodyparts complete with tons of silver spray paint and oodles of plastic tubing.
Before we knew it, time was up and shoot day was upon us. We began hair and makeup at 10 AM to prepare for our shoot. Each character had to be slowly built up from scratch and I took the opportunity to shoot them as they were ready one at a time. The challenge was to make sure that the lighting stayed generally consistent despite a huge variety of positions and props that my models were going to be interacting with.
I used a simple three light setup, lighting my subjects up from beneath to give a hint of theatrical drama that is not often seen. I knew that I would be photoshopping sparks and effects into the image so this lighting would ensure that the final image would be believable.
The hairlights were a combination of hard and soft – the hard one adding some harsh glows accross the hair while the soft one ensured separation of the subject from the background.
Finally it was time for the group shot.
I’ve always preferred to get things right in camera as opposed to spending hours on photoshop repositioning and replacing things. We spent a good hour rigging up pipes, tubes, straps and chains to suspend Vicky in a harness and slowly built our set by scattering our carefully prepared props across the entire set.
Lighting was also built progressively using almost every single light that we had available: A combination of White Lightnings, Einsteins, Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and speedlights.
Two speedlights inside the forge with orange gels were used to create an ominous glow and imply a burning fire. Side lights on either side of our models to make them pop, as well as a single light behind Kells(right) to help him pop out of the background. A softbox above the entire set provided critical toplight to pop Vicky (Centre) out and a couple lights in the front were brought in for some soft fill.
One week of pre-production and construction, a 14 hour shoot day and one week of post-production… but at the end of the day we came out with a completely surreal image.
- Models: The Agonist
- Makeup/SFX/Set: Tamsen Rae
- First Assistant/Digital Tech: Jessika Chiasson
- Production Assistants: Adrian Barret, Guildo Gagnon, Katia Provencher, Carlos Gouveia
- BTSV: Niko Sarki