They Say Roses Are Red

The stunning red rose had long bathed in the glory of nutritious sunlight and flourished with utter beauty and vividness. She was rooted, unable to detach herse...
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The stunning red rose had long bathed in the glory of nutritious sunlight and flourished with utter beauty and vividness. She was rooted, unable to detach herself from the warm light that gleamed upon her, though her heart was cold and empty, longing for the return of her lost soul mate, the violet rose.

"Through winter's cold and summer's heat, your touch, your kiss, is all I seek..."

© Adrian Farr 2014

Photographer: Adrian Farr
Client: Norwich Fashion Week
Model: Anna Konstantynowicz
Stylist: Abi Gray
Hair Stylist: Leanne Maddock
Makeup Artist: Patrice Szubska
Headpiece: Mystic Magic Masquerade
Corset: Kirsteen Wythe
Skirt-Fabric: Anglian Fashion Fabrics
Videographer: James Clayden
Assistants: Matt Rump, Katie Bradford, Amy Collingsworth, Sharon Pearce, Dean Pearce
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Contest Finalist in Elegant Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Dixie Dixon Photo Contest
Curator's Choice
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4 Comments | Report
onyanita PRO+
onyanita September 12, 2014
stunning...congrats on being Contest Finalist
AdrianFarr July 12, 2016
Thank you!
pietnel June 09, 2016
Super stunning fantastic image
AdrianFarr July 12, 2016
Thank you!
korinna February 01, 2018
ARUNASPINIGIS November 10, 2020

Behind The Lens

On a cold January Sunday morning not long after the New Year had just begun, I ventured out for a run with a friend into the wonderful gloomy woods of Ringland Hills, not too far from my new home. We discovered an arduous hill buried deep within the brush and bramble; a long winding pathway to the top had been haphazardly trampled out through the thick of the middle of it, and so we curiously followed. When we finally reached the highest point, gasping for air, we noticed that the peak was gently kissed with the glorious rays of the golden winter sun, barely sprinkling a hint of hope on anything still living, whilst the sinister blanket of frozen shade strangled the surrounding weeds and decaying plants nearby. We tentatively crept around and explored the unbalanced terrain, patiently observing the natural spill of scattered light. Valentine's day was soon approaching and precipitously, the location gave me the unexpected idea of creating a magical fashion story of two beautiful roses; two secret lovers entwined with a shared destiny. In my mind I imagined a series of images that would define the unraveling of their long forgotten romantic affair. The scene I was standing in gave me one particular vision of a stunning young woman, dressed all in red, representing the powerful emotion of love, isolated and soaked in a rich radiant light that blessed her, but lost in her own somber thoughts and longing for companionship, paralysed by the fear of wilting away and dying alone.
Two intense weeks went into the meticulous planning and coordination of this wistful love story; chic dresses were sourced, intricate corsets were made, extravagant headpieces were created, an abundance of vibrant meteoric smoke grenades were purchased, and an assemblage of a disparate creative team were unified together, with the single aspiration of constructing a breathtaking, heart-stopping, enchanting outcome. The day started just as the black night before it had hardly ended. Soon after 07:00 in the morning, the creative team arrived at my desolate and uninhabited new home, and the scrupulous preparations of hair and makeup on the models promptly began, with shared croissants, tea and coffee. My assistants diligently made sandwiches, which would go on to be the fuel source of our day, and the chilling rain outside inharmoniously battered against the windowpanes, whilst I obsessed over each look for the story with my stylist and designer. Delightedly the weather calmed and all fifteen of us successfully arrived at the location shortly after 09:00, without getting lost or separated. We briskly trundled up and through the muggy bleak pathway of the mini colossal mountain that laid ahead us. Each of us carrying an awkward array of assorted equipment; from food, umbrellas, clothing rails, blankets, outfits and props, to stepladders, reflectors, tripods, camera equipment and even a pop up tent, which was later nigh impossible to get back down! The first model was elegantly styled into one of her alluring gowns, and the heavy clouds of multi-coloured fog, speedily surrounded the isolated woods, as our non-whispered echoes of fun and laughter rattled across the mixture of barren winter trees, miles away and ignorant from the rest of the world outside. Engrossed in the fantastical story that unfolded before our very eyes, we kept roughly on schedule and shot deep into the late afternoon, right up until the dwindling sun eagerly slipped away behind the vast curtain of dusk.
Nature was on our side this day, even though the heavens had commenced the morning with an uninvited torrential downpour, it was actually a welcome blessing in disguise. The frosty winter sun that trickled through the narrow gaps in the trees was mirrored back from the plethora of precipitation, left behind on the forgotten leaves of fall and suspended from the wild shrubbery that would slightly tear at our arms and legs, as we cautiously maneuvered our way through it. We used a collection of reflectors to carefully bounce and manipulate the subtle shafts of golden illumination, emitting from the low seasonal sun, seldom sneaking out from behind the rain filled clouds in the dismal sky above. We used them to intensify the vivid colours of the magnificent dresses and to amplify the surreal atmosphere, which was created by the multitude of smoke grenades that lingered on the deep breaths of the whirling agile wind, as it teasingly stroked our rosy cheeks on its way past. The soft glimpse of natural light peeking out from the murky overcast was all that was needed to create the perfect balance of mystery, intrigue and drama. Any flash would have killed the ambience of the looming mood of the hued fog, which had been so delicately crafted by my relentless assistants, as they patiently and secretly crawled around in the overgrowth, tucked away behind the scenes.
I rented a Canon 1Ds Mark II from a photographer friend of mine because the location we were shooting in was a fairly narrow and crooked space, so I wanted to use a full frame sensor to give myself a little extra room than what my own crop sensor camera would have given me. I used a slightly wider-angle 50mm lens to create the illusion that the area was bigger than it actually was. My videographer used a Canon 7D and a tripod to capture the story but the only time I used a tripod, was when I took the team photo at the end of the day. However because it was not my camera, figuring out how to activate the self-timer was a bit of a feat in itself!
It is hard to explain where inspiration comes from. Sometimes when my mind is overextended or agitated, I can often go days, weeks, or even months without the slightest sense of any kind of new stimulus. And then other times, it can strike me at the deepest core, like an unyielding shard of lightning; an electrical discharge of creativity, completely unexpected and out of the blue, and often when I am not even searching for it. It is an assault on all of my senses and I go into a heightened visual state of mind. It is a derivative artistic experience that transports me into a fantasy realm of unlimited imagination and possibilities, and I am ignited into a ravaging flame of ingenuity, compelled to take the seed of a simple idea and cultivate it into something quite extraordinary. I have to keep my mind open and alive with a constant source of exploration, just so that I can realise and discover inspiration when it is right there in front of me. I do so by trying new things, meeting new people, venturing to new places, listening to new music, watching new films, reading my favourite comics and discovering new interests. My inspirations, ideas and visions are only brought into existence through my own life adventures. It only took a moment of lucidity on the top of a hill in a secluded woods with an intermittent spread of light and shade, which allowed me to roughly map the fictional story 'Lover's Tryst'; a shadowed magical love affair between two seductive roses. Two lovers separated and lost from each other at the cruel hands of time. The fragmented tale of a luscious purple rose, left to grow alone in the bitter frost of the long winter shade, who embarks on an incredible mysterious journey, to rejoin her one and only true love; the sweet red rose, who has been kissed with the warm nourishment of light upon the top of a hill, but rooted into the deepest depths of her own loneliness and solitude. Finally reunited with her beloved sweetheart, the two adoring roses grow tall together, towering towards the furthest reaches of sky, showered in the exquisite glory of sunlight.
For some strange reason a lot of people were under the misconception that the images from this story were shot in a studio, and then the background and smoke effects were later composited in, with the help of Photoshop. Do people not venture outside the restrictive confinements of a studio space anymore? Thankfully I have plenty of behind the scenes pictures from the day and a video that proves otherwise. I shoot RAW, so all of my images always need some form of post-processing. I typically first work on an image in Adobe Lightroom to do a basic retouch, such as exposure, colour and contrast correction. I then take my favourite images into Adobe Photoshop to remove any undesirable imperfections, and to make any necessary slimming adjustments, in order to draw attention away from any unflattering body parts, which might have been over emphasised by the light, camera, lens or just my perspective when I was shooting. I try not to make any dramatic changes to a model's natural look. That part of retouching is my least enjoyable bit, it is quite laborious, and I look forward to being able to outsource that step one day. I then enhance the contrast by defining the shadows and highlights and add my own signature look, using a variety of toning techniques such as selective colour, curves and gradients. I'm not the kind of photographer who uses a bunch of actions and presets created by others. Whilst it would save me a ton of time, it is just plain lazy. Each to their own, but personally I enjoy the process of creating. Enhancing the colours and contrast of an image is a way for me to further add my own distinct style, and to fulfil or even improve the artistic vision I originally had in my mind. I like to build a very specific characteristic but consistent feeling, for each and every one of my creations, so that each one can stand on its own. Just like drawing, it is like taking the sketch of a beautiful concept and then transforming it into a striking piece of art before your very eyes. It is even quite therapeutic, editing an image whilst listening to eccentric dance tunes that are blasting out and ringing through your eardrums. To finish, I then take my images back into Lightroom and add a zest of an extra twist of secret magic, to further transcend the limitations of this grounded reality that we know and live in.
In my camera bag
I currently own a Canon 50D and a cheap little 50mm 1.8 lens, but I rarely use them for bigger projects because the crop sensor is very limiting in tight spaces, and the noise from higher ISO settings is not too friendly in low light. I upgraded to it from a Canon 350D about 4 years ago, it has been a robust little camera and has certainly taken a beating or two. It has been put through its paces; from Zapcat racing and other water sports on the sea, rally driving in the thickest of dust clouds and paintballing in greasy thick mud pits, to snowboarding at the icy peaks of some of Canada's highest mountains and of the French Alps. It has not faulted on me yet but now my creative fascination far exceeds its limits and capabilities. I cannot yet afford to upgrade to a full frame sensor, so instead I usually just hire the Canon 5D Mark III for bigger projects and client shoots, I absolutely adore that camera. I typically either hire the Canon EF 85mm f1.2 L II USM Lens, which goes perfectly hand in hand with that body, or the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM or 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II USM lens, depending on what my needs are and how much my budget allows. I simply cannot wait for the day where I can finally upgrade and own it all for myself. I also have three speed lights that I group together with a shoot through umbrella to make a bigger light source for more potential.
A lot of time, planning, preparation and a collaboration of a big team effort went into creating just this single image, let alone the rest of the shots that were captured for the story. I get a lot of people asking how I created the red mist in the background; I used amorous red smoke grenades and a team of exuberant assistants crawling beneath and amongst the twisting thistles, contorted thorns and stifling vines. One thing I would highly recommend for a shoot like this, would be to order twice the number of smoke grenades than what is initially anticipated. Actually, capturing this shot was a entire fluke, just in terms of trying to get the mysterious magical fog to settle in a way that seemed perfectly natural and balanced, like it was meant to be there. During the setup, the wind was as still as a frozen waterfall, but as soon as the first bomb was inflamed, the quiet stillness quickly mutated into an unpredictable gust of velocity, dispersing and diminishing the already short life of the fleeting flamboyant atmosphere, blowing it in all directions except for the very one place we wanted it to be, behind the model. An hour had passed and we had already gone through six grenades from sixteen, and this was only the third scene of the eight image series. Despite my assistants' best efforts and wherever we placed the model in accordance to the wind, the haze just kept going the wrong way. I gambled on one last attempt, The tinged smog continued to choke the sweet red rose, smothering her and watering her eyes as she sat gallantly, succumbing to the slow torment of numbness, and she was nowhere to be seen through the depleted clumps of obscurity. I kept cheering direction at her in the hopes that she would blindly follow my guidance, and endured shooting without ratification, until the final particles of dyed dust had scattered altogether. I still distrusted that I had successfully secured even half a decent shot, until I went through the collection of ambiguous speculation on the back of the camera. Where I discovered the single moment of clarity, amidst the unruly turmoil that had transpired only minutes before. I was suddenly jubilant with extreme euphoria, I knew I had won the money shot, and it was totally worth it, but next time I will take twice as many grenades, just to be on the safe side. Moral of the story, be persistent and never give up on the vision you have!

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