Category Archives: Conceptual

Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz, AurumLight – Interview

Today I have an interview for you that was just published by N-Photo photography magazine in the UK.
In the actual print you can find only an unauthorized shortened version of my thoughts below.

So, I thought it would be nice to drop a full length of the 10-Q&A, I hope you will find useful!

Keep up great work Guys!

Cheers
Jaroslav

[N-Photo] How did you make the move from architect to pro photographer?

[JW] Depends on the assignment I still work simultaneously as an architect and a photographer. That ability is giving me a lot of freedom with choosing the right job or client.
Both of these worlds are keeping me focused and sharp. I believe that being an architect first has helped me to become a much better photographer. Working on a multi million development with a team of specialists around you, taught me how to deal with stress and find simple yet innovative solutions to complex problems.
After training like that, a $50K photographic assignment is not that scary anymore.

I went into photography because in this field the creative pay-off is much faster. I don’t have to work for a two-three years to see results of my efforts.
It is a tremendous burst of satisfaction.
Photography also takes me to many different places, allows me to meet talented people and to create a fantastic work with them.

Tell me more about promoting your work on FB, Flickr and Twitter – how do get your work and your name talked about? Which social media outlet works best for you? Has it lead to extra work or unexpected jobs?

The truth is I don’t use social media very well, nor do I like to do that.
We live in really interesting times. You have direct access to your potential clients, publishers, peer group and promotional tools for free. Never before the work was viewed or shared so instantly and by so many.
But in the process many people were caught in that terrible pace. Our news feeds are bombarded every minute with hundreds of pictures from all over the world. Many people think that if they want to stay on top of the game they need to share often and a lot… the more they share the lower the quality of work is seen on-line.

To me the most important thing is the content. I believe that people appreciate the hard work, and because of the respect to the viewer I only post my best work.
If you like people to talk about your illustrations the best way is to step out of that on-line community for a while produce quality work and come back when you are ready to do so.

To give you an example, the Milky Pinups series took me fifteen months to finish and eleven months before I posted them online the first six to promote the calendar.

How did your milk portraits project come about? Were you expecting it to be such a big hit?

I didn’t expect that there would be such an interest especially not from mainstream media and TV.

Liquid photography in advertising and other genres has been around for many years.
My all-time inspiration is Jean-Paul Goude – for one a photographer, for others graphic designer, choreographer or director. But to me first of all an artist who never was afraid to work hard. Similar technique used in early 90s in the dark room and working with negatives!
The digital photography made this process simpler and more affordable. Photographers like Paulo Vainer, Kurt Stallaert, Andrey Razumovski, Christophe Gilbert or Bill Cahill was doing liquid photography years before me. When I was experimenting with my work I tried to learn from them all as much as I could. I was sending emails, calling, traveling to workshops and assisting. And when I was ready, I started to work on ideas from my sketchbook.

Attention that I recently received proves that if you are willing to go the extra mile and work harder than most you will find your place in any field. And I think that there is a space for absolutely everyone, no matter where you live and what you do. If you are good and persistent, the success will come with time. Just stay focused!

How has it changed your career (I see you now run milk workshops and have won prizes for your shots)?
What was it like getting your shots printed and talked about in magazines and newspapers?

Attention really helps and brings not only exposure but also more work. It makes you feel that what you do matters to other people.

But it doesn’t make my illustrations better or worse if there is no exposure.
Some of my work makes me really proud because I remember, the obstacles me and my team had to go through to make it happen. I really don’t care if it is popular piece or not. We did it and that’s what really matters.

Does your website help you find opportunities?

I think that there is a lot to do to make my website user friendly. I just have no time to look into that.
But, it is an important medium. It is your digital business card that should instantly tell people who you are and what you do.
It should be a great one, that is a fact, but first you need a great content.

Can you describe your daily routine when you aren’t on assignment? (taking bookings, editing shots, using social media, updating your website etc).

If not on assignment…
My day start around 21:30-22:00… Yes, this is the time when I like to sit down with a clear head, no one calls, I can legally ignore emails and focus on work in postproduction. I usually edit until 3-4am.
Then waking up at 9am ,quick breakfast and answering emails and phone calls until 11am. I rarely take bookings from private clients, instead I focus on bigger productions, advertising or calendars. Jobs like that are great if you can get them. It is hard but will take you much further than shooting portraits every second day. There’s a lot of phone calls and emails to do. To seal a resent contract it took us 4 weeks just to agree on the scope, brief and fees. It is a pretty tricky part especially when you work for clients from oversees and you can’t just sit down and talk about the project.

After all that I can again clear my headspace and spend at least a couple of hours on storyboarding, future thinking or study history or other cultures if the story or design of the project requires it.
I have at a minimum two personal projects that are ongoing and when they are on advance stages I often pitch them to potential clients. It is very a effective way to work with new people.
I try to stay away from the social media or news websites as much as I can. I consider Facebook as time-vampire exactly like television. I haven’t had a TV set since 2003 and it works well form me, I wish it would be so easy with the net.

Between 2-4pm I have some current tasks to do like prop making. Not many people know but most of the elements that are on my photos are actually made or designed by me.
After that editing again till 6pm. when I am back home with my wife we have some time together. That is pretty much it and it has been my routine for the past three years, 7 days a week. It was hard but there is no other way.

What advice would you give to young photographers keen to get their name known?

If that is your goal you should sign up for some kind of reality TV show or something similar on TV
That shouldn’t be the goal itself.
The destination on your road map should be great work. Quality material and personal satisfaction. These things will keep you healthy and happy. If you focus on getting your name out there you need to understand that it takes time and if you think that it can happen overnight you will quickly become disillusioned.
If you want to be successful you got to work harder than other people. Simple as that.
I do photography because I believe it is more cool than going to the pub. Do not complain about simple stuff there are always people that are in a worse situation than you just keep going.

What kit do you find essential as a professional?

Kit is a secondary thing it is what you do with it and who you work with that counts. All of my work was possible only because there was a team of dedicated people with me. Together we can make dreams a reality.

Until the end of 2012 I had just one camera a Nikon D300 and two lenses. If there was a need we were hiring gear for jobs.
You really don’t need much to take off.

What’s been your best-paid job so far?

I love when something that started off as a personal project receives a warm response from others and later becomes a fully commercial advertising project.
That is my favourite scenario.
Money wise, so far every job we are getting is more complex with bigger budgets and fees. the project I have mention above is our best-paid to date. In mid-2014 I will be able to talk more about that. But I hope that until that time we will beat it.

Have you had any disasters when it comes to paid work or assignments?

“Knocking on wood” we have not had any disaster on commercial assignments. I think that in that case it is not the right time to experiment or test something or someone. We spend a lot of pre-planning and pre-light time which I always try to argue over in the budgets. And when it comes to the day everyone should be well briefed and prepared.

But when I do my personal projects we do all sorts of assumptions and go with a flow, taking risks to pull of the concept. We have failed a number of times. But that is part of the game. Interesting failure is much better than boring success… not in front of a client though!

Cheers
Jaroslav

http://www.AurumLight.com

Australia SPLASH TOUR 2013 – Summary

Hey Everyone!

I don’t know how about you but for us January went like a blast!

Very exciting times ahead and we are thrilled about new up and coming projects.
I Will let you know all about them in the near future…

But first I would like to thank everyone who purchased the AurumLight 2014 Milky Pinup Calendar!
It means a lot and makes what we do possible! We deeply appreciate it.

Cheers for a fantastic end of year!
…and what a finish it was!

We wrapped up 2013 with an Australian Splash Tour and we had a fantastic time!
This time we visited Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Big thanks to our friends at L&P Digital Photographic – who made the tour possible!

Without their great efforts at the other end, the tour would have been a serious mission.

Our participants were given an opportunity to work with high-end gear, and shoot with Phase One IQ260 and full house of Profoto lights!




The last time we shot in Oz, we made quite a mess [images from 2011 Splash Tour], and since our Australian friends were so encouraging I decided to make a proper splash again!
Thanks to understanding owners of the studios from Brisbane – Ross Street Studio, Melbourne – Young St Studios and Phase Studio in Sydney we were able to shot illustrations like this one below.
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Here is Shay as The Milky Demon from a new series that will follow in a short while.

[Click to Enlarge]

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We also have found a bit of time to relax in Byron Bay which is quite an extraordinary part of the world!

I have a sketchbook that I carry around. When the moment is right I love to sit down and make some visual notes to myself.
And this is the environment where the storyboard for new AurumLight 2015 Milk Calendar came about! And the first shoot for that project is already sheduled this month. We are very excited!
I’ve felt like a writer on his winter retreat.


… it was a great time that I shared with my lovely wife. We can’t wait to come back in 2015!

Once again, Thanks to our partners, teammates, models, participants and everyone who made this OZ tour possible.
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And now… AurumLight WORKSHOPS 2014 !
Book your place now, here: >>>BOOKING PAGE

To all who are asking for up and coming dates – Yes, we are preparing something special for this year!

We will visit this year:

April 5-6 – London, United Kingdom
May 17-18 – Frankfurt, Germany
May 24-25 – Milan, Italy
July 20-24 – Schloss Hoff, Austria
August DateTBC – Switzerland
and…
USA SPLASH TOUR 2014 in September/October!
We would like to visit both coasts this time and few a cities in between!

If you are interested in any of above events you can register you interest by sending us email with your city of choice to: workshops@aurumlight.com
We will get back to you with the newsletter as soon we will secure the venue and the date.
The booking pages for London and Frankfurt events will go life tomorrow morning.

Cheers
Jaroslav

The “Milky PinUps” 2014 Calendar – available for ordering!

Hey everyone,

We are back to London after closing this year with an amazing Australia Tour!
It was great and we loved going back to Oz, but more about that and our plans for 2014 (and yes USA Tour too) a little bit later…

Today we are very happy to announce that the AurumLight 2014 Calendar “Milky PinUps” is now available for ordering!

The “Milky PinUps” 2014 Calendar is a limited edition of only 100 copies [A3 size], cost of which is £39.99 excluding postage.
We are offering it on the first-come-first-served basis and over half of the stock has already gone to our happy subscribers!

To order your copy please check below the Royal Mail price list and delivery options and pick the suitable one.
We strongly recommend the signed option with the proof of delivery.

To check availability and secure your order please email info@aurumlight.com for the PAYPAL payment details.
The total cost is the price of the calendar and your chosen delivery option.

- Please remember to send us a confirmation email with your postal address and chosen option of delivery.
- Please note that postal charges may differ if you order more than one calendar and this needs to be confirmed beforehand.
- We will dispatch the parcel as soon as we receive both, your payment and the delivery address.

Last but not least.

Thank you for your support. It is deeply appreciated!
It was a great year and we are grateful that you guys are around. It made the whole thing worthwhile!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the AurumLight Team.

Best regards
Jaroslav

MILK Workshops 2014!
Book your place now, here: >>>BOOKING PAGE

5-6 April 2014 – London, United Kingdom
17-18 May 2014 – Frankfurt, Germany

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AWAKENING – PART IV – TAKE YOUR TIME…

Working on a personal project without the pressure of time can be actually a tricky task…

With the usual pace of working on a jobs to pay your bills the time is a luxury that most of us can’t afford.
In the times of “likes”, one click glimpse and content constant flow through your newsfeed we all experience the unnatural pressure to produce quickly more body of work. To shoot and shoot and shoot…

Whenever I work for myself, (especially then) time is the crucial factor.
My approach is to take my time. Relax and do whatever has to be done. Find people you really want to work with. Organise location and gear that you need. And when that all falls in the right places press the button and set the date.

You soon understand that you don’t have to do anything for anyone, you will have clear headspace but finding time can still be a challenge.
That is when people start cutting corners, trying to find the easiest way out. This is the moment when things can go wrong.

When I work on a bigger scale project I always take three important elements into consideration: The Scope, The Time and Money.

It is clear for most that the project with a big scope needs more budget to cover props, location, team etc. But it is not necessary clear for everyone that projects like that need relevant amount of time.
By affecting any of the above circles, like having not enough money, or time you will affect the common part of sets…

That common part to me represents a Life Span of your project.

I had a professor once who would say to a student during the project consultations that:
“…you had a month to prepare yet your proposal looks like you have spent on it 30 minutes last night. Therefore I can give you only 30 second of my time…”
I think that was fair game.

It is pretty much the same situation with your viewers, if you will cut corners while working on your project, people will notice that and will not spent their time to look and explore it, to understand it, to share it…
Your project life span will be rather short…

Don’t rush things!
If you have to wait, so be it. I am taking my time to develop the concept, to find more money, to work with great people.

Regular readers know that I have been working on Awakening for two years now and here is one of the reasons why it is taking so loooong…

In 2010 I was introduced to a very talented artist, designer extraordinaire and a really nice person Sophie de Oliveira Barata.
Sophie founded The Alternative Limb Project and she is designing prosthetics for amputees.
But not just limbs… her work is really special and recently you could read about her in WIRED .


Photo: Alex Lake via WIRED

We became friends instantly and since day one I knew that we will work together the problem was the time of course. We couldn’t match our calendars in 2011 and in 2012 she was overwhelmed with work for people from around the world coming for London Paralympics 2012. You could see Viktoria Modesta in Sophie’s Crystallised Leg during the Paralympics Closing Ceremony

So I had to wait…

In my second instalment you could see the concepts for the main character outfits. I needed Sophie to help me with the Helmet.

The concept for the helmet was done by talented Marek Okon who did this illustration and kindly let me use it as a base for the concept.

I have developed technical drawings for Sophie to take a look and in June when we finally had some free time on our hands (!) we pressed the button!

The model is no one else than the one and only Jay Jessop!
You have met her on our blog as a Bamboo Forest Warrior. Jay is a good sport and is always up for crazy concepts!


We went through many changes but I really love the effect and I think we did a great job on this one!
It was absolutely worth the wait all that time to get it right. I wanted to stay true to the original idea and just couldn’t accept a standard helmet replacement – it had to be special and I couldn’t make it happen in a short time, without special people around me!

The journey is as important as the final effect!

It was tiring but now we are ready to move on to the next element…
Stay tuned there is more to come!

Thanks for checking!
Jaroslav

www.AurumLight.com
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AWAKENING – PART III – Make It Happen vs Make It Real

AWAKENING – PART II – Building Your Team

AWAKENING – PART I – Finding Your Anchor Point

AWAKENING – PROLOGUE – Seeing beyond the obvious…

AWAKENING – THE PHOTO-QUEST with AurumLight Team

Milk Calendar 2014 – Coming Soon!

Hey everyone!

Please meet Alice as Miss August, Johanna as Miss September and Patricia as Miss May.
These three Milky Illustrations were made for our upcoming limited edition Milk Calendar 2014.

The Calendar contains recent Milky Pin-up Series and it will premiere during our Milk Workshop in Australia this November 2013!

The Calendar will be available for pre-ordering shortly after and shipping starts in December!

There are still three unpublished Milky Pin-ups and next month you will meet Lilia as Miss October.

I have mentioned in the previous blog post that we are referring to the masters of the Pin-up genre and those into that theme already have spotted pieces by Gil Elvgren:

Many thanks for checking!
Please stay tuned there is more to come.

MILK Workshops 2014!
Book your place now, here: >>>BOOKING PAGE

5-6 April 2014 – London, United Kingdom
17-18 May 2014 – Frankfurt, Germany


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My best regards
Jaroslav

AWAKENING – PART III – Make It Happen vs Make It Real

I could do pretty much anything to pull off the concept and make the idea happen.
But at the same time it is really essential to me to make it as real as possible !

As usual it is all about the context.

We are working on-and-off, on the Awakening project for a while now and the whole idea is to make it “big” but on a budget.
At the moment we are scouting for a suitable after-fall / sci-fi looking location… in the London area..

Yeah I know…

Pretty much every single quirky property in London is already signed by one of the local/international agency and in most cases it costs a fortune to hire.
If we will take into consideration that we will need it for at least three days – one pre-light and two shooting days – we could easily look at a minimum £5K just for the place to shoot!

It is obviously a no-go so we have to improvise and find something as close as possible to the initial idea and then build a set within that space to create the look-and-feel we need.

This comparing to the above scenario could be really cost effective. If somehow we could get directly to for example care taker that will let us in for a couple hundred £££, it would be a win-win situation.

My goal would be to build and light the full set in front of a camera as I want to make it “real”!

Physical set gives you a few important elements.
- First of all you, your team, (and client) will have the complete scene to examine and work with. To frame the shots and find the best angles etc.
- Secondly it provides a solid grip for the models. They can interact with the set/props and act in a convincing way. It is especially important when working with inexperienced models, when it could be a real issue to improvise with hypothetical machinery and surrounding.
- Another very important if not the most important detail is the integrity of the whole illustration. When the set and the models character is well build, composed, lit and then photographed at the same time, no one can question your final piece and you will have a cohesive output.

So what is your option if for some reason (money, time, man power) you cannot build an extensive set or hire suitable location?

The answer to this could be a composite.
And you have a few options to approach that but unfortunately none are ideal.

- The most obvious solution is to photograph the “plates” for composites on the day and then separately shoot props, a few different locations and mix it with the actual scene. Then later in complex post production combine all elements into the illustration.

- You could build a bespoke miniature set and photograph that model with proper macro lenses to match the perspective and depth of field and combine that with your “plates”.

- Another way-out is to build the 3D CGI model and then set the digital camera view to match the rendering to your photographs.

All the above scenarios could overcome your initial problems but could easily create a few more in the process.
The most significant is that you would have to fix the frames and composition pretty much in advance. This might be OK for people used to working with a precise brief/storyboard from a client or art director but it leaves a very limited space to improvise with your models on the day.
It is one thing to have a sketch in the hand and another to deal with props and ten models on the day.

But the issue I am talking about here is more philosophical than technical.

It is about justifying the tools for the right work…

To me it feels quite reasonable to use the computer generated imaginary when you are battling a commercial project like Sci-fi photos or a movie about landscapes/machinery/species that never existed, but I don’t feel the same about less action packed motion pictures like dramas and love stories.

Take for example the recent two big Blockbusters – Pacific Rim and on the other side – The Great Gatsby.
I am not naive, after a few years in 3D visualisation market I have a good and clear picture what goes into today’s productions and that both the above movies will use CGI’s to pull off the impossible scenes.
You would expect anything from the first title, but I must say that I was a little surprised and maybe a bit shocked when I saw later how extensive the computer generated imaginary was in The Great Gatsby.

Check the VFX breakdown below:

It is a great piece of hard work of the many people involved, but I can’t help that in this case it’s a little bit of showing off and I must say it drove me away from the main story while watching. Of course it is just my opinion, my wife for example have no problem with that and says it gave this fairy tale look to the footage.

I could still argue, but what would be the point if it worked for many.

The point of these blog post is that your goal as a creator of the illustration or if some prefer “the artwork” should be to make your “art” as true to your viewer as possible.
It is all about the respect to other people, about the extra effort that not many can handle…

We will try to build our set as complex as possible and we will let you know where and why we have drawn the line between real and illusion.

To Be Continued……

Thanks for checking!
Jaroslav

www.AurumLight.com
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AWAKENING – PART II – Building Your Team

AWAKENING – PART I – Finding Your Anchor Point

AWAKENING – PROLOGUE – Seeing beyond the obvious…

AWAKENING – THE PHOTO-QUEST with AurumLight Team

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