I always feel like I was born in the wrong era. I always feel as if I don’t belong where I currently am at any point in time. In the US I feel like I belong on the west coast, in Jamaica, I feel like I belong in Spain, in England, I feel like I belong in Germany. So essentially my feelings of wanderlust changes based on where I am.
However, a constant is and has always been; I feel like I would’ve been the greatest Samurai ever. Now I understand the historical impossibilities of this ever having happened. The thing is though, ever since I can remember, I’ve been in love with Japanese culture, style, language and of course it’s history.
I was first introduced to Samurai culture by watching this anime when I was younger called Samurai X (Rurouni Kenshin). That show was and can be argued today to be my favourite anime ever. The only other anime that I can consider my favourite is Bleach (swords are central in both). I became so enamored by Samurai X that at one point I thought it would be a cool idea to get a large X scar on my left cheek. Needless to say, my grandmother had a few choice words for me when I told her that I wanted one (she offered to give me one if it came with a beating for the rest of my life). After a while, though, and I’m not sure what happened, but I just lost interest in a lot of things.
Fast forward a few years (2016) and I have decided to take up photographer as not only a hobby but a career. It’s at this point where, after feeling lost for a couple years, I felt that I was lacking creativity. I lacked the drive to do anything. My personal life was in tatters and I was battling demons from my time in the Army. Luckily though I have a mentor who is willing to let me screw things up as a way to learn the craft of photography more.
So after a year of working with my mentor and putting out halfway decent work, I decided to reexamine my love for all things Samurai and this is how my Ronin Project came about.
Choosing the right people
A large part of this project for me was ensuring that I kept true to the culture. This means that since I’m dealing with a concept that is from Asian culture and specifically Japanese culture, I need someone of Asian descent (preferably Japanese). The reason why this is important to me is authenticity. I completely abhor whitewashing (cough Hollywood cough) and I see no real reason to do it ESPECIALLY in the melting pot of a society we live in now. What need is there to do that?
Another big thing for me is putting women in typically assumed male positions. Gender-bending is a big part of a lot of the concepts I develop. I love seeing powerful women. I love seeing women take control and be seen as their own bosses or the hero (/I’m also planning on recreating some movie posters in this way. More to come/). The only big issue I had was finding the right person for this shoot (I still haven’t). However, I was able to get someone close to what I want and someone who is potentially going to be the main subject (thanks, Sharon).
Doing test shots
Should go without saying that, no great image was taking on the first try. I wasn’t completely oblivious to this, but being a photographer is 80% planning, 10% business, 5% social media and 5% shooting (this breakdown is just what I think). I’ve been planning this concept since October of 2016 and I don’t perceive to be finished with this concept until potentially the end of 2017.
Doing test shots are key to everything I want to shoot. It helps to provide small bits of visuals that will then aid in me seeing in my head. It also helps me work out the kinks and see problems that I didn’t think about.
With the studio I shoot in, we have foam heads and dress forms that can fill in for a human person. Nothing beats having an actual human, though. NOTHING! If I can get a human who doesn’t mind standing in for a few hours, I’ll get him/her.
Where to go now?
So for now, until I finish this shoot and get the images that I want, I’ll be doing test shots to keep chipping off bit by bit the final idea that I want. I have another test coming up with a new model soon, so let's hope things progress from there.
Here are some photos from a test I did with Sharon.