Last week, I travelled to Dubai for the annual Sole DXB festival. I was covering for two publications - one of them being Nylon. Heading out, I had a rough idea of what I was going to do, but I reckon the art of true and honest creation is to let the subject tell it's own story. So, little ol' me, my camera and my laptop flew 7 hrs to catch all the madness!
It was by far one of the most demanding jobs i've done - in a good way. I was able to push my own limits in terms of determination and delivery, and most importantly, creativity. At one point, I had been awake for 22 hrs, with three days of writing and editing ahead of me! Jobs like this always look glamorous, and you know what? To some extent they are - you are looked after, and if you're invested in the event/culture, it's an added plus. If you want to hit above mediocre though, the pressure and hard work that comes along with it sometimes outweighs the fun. You need to be all eyes and ears, mentally noting down all the things you're going to write about later, praying that your memory card won't fill up when the moment for the money shot happens, and still want to enjoy yourself and be on form to welcome and celebrate all the people you encounter. Plus, you want to produce phenomenal, jaw-dropping work. There is no space for doing what is expected. Do the most.
Integrity and honesty in my work is imperative, and as long as I have creative control, I will never make content without substance and intent. Why? Because every conversation we have, everything we do, has rhyme and reason. The exchanges I have with my friends and loved ones are always centred around real issues that affect us either directly or passively, so why live under the facade of pretending we care about making content...we don't really care about? I mean, I totally believe in escapism, as long as you recognise that that's what it is...escapism. Not a substitute for the realness. So, as I experienced Sole and absorbed the culture, complexities and creativity, I was of course inspired, provoked, and stimulated in many ways, and was so excited to get stuck into creating a piece that at least touched on a few of my moments of inner thought.
As for the images, I wanted to present street style in a fun, carefree way. This was my first time experimenting with collages, and everything I know about photography and photoshop is self-taught, so a lot of the time the process is extremely slow and frustrating. I have to be patient with myself, and trust that I can make my vision come into fruition. I believe that these jobs are the experiences I'll look back on in 10, 20 or 50 years time, and smile at the fun I had...and so when putting together the visuals, I imagined what a scrapbook of the festival may look like. Have a look at a raw image of Kristyna Policek versus an edit:
I began with a base image and then used clippings of details I found in and around the city and festival to translate the full experience. Played with tinting the images, layering, and trying to encompass how I visualised and felt connected to each subject. I also now literally have a bunch of these smaller clippings!
Special and eternal thank you's to to Sir Charlie Vance because you always have my back for some weird reason, Maria Sihalo for being the littest person on the dance-floor in between scheduling and booking cars, Eddie Smith for aligning the chakras and all dat, Tina Vaden for trusting & believing in me, Seema Rao for housing and feeding me while I sat staring at my laptop for 72 hrs, Miss Tana Shaw for making my work feel beautiful before it even began, Kay Davis - "a little left, a little right, no....no...YES!", and Gavin - without your amazon links to soft boxes where would I be?