Joseph is one of the few people that I’ve met that does fantasy photography. He goes beyond photomontages since he sets up the photographic production himself with the final product in mind. Most of this images keep a great balance between every day life, surreal and fantastic. Let me introduce you to his fantastic work.
Joseph how did you get started as a photographer? Do you work alone or as part of a team?
I first picked up a camera in high school as a last resort before failing out of school entirely. After finishing up my class and getting the credits necessary, I promptly put down the camera again. It wasn’t until years later that I started shooting my friends and compatriots as we lived life to the fullest. From there, I began telling stories using photography as my medium.
Nowadays, I create Time of the Faeries with my wife Donny and I continue to use photography as my primary medium.
How did your photography evolved into fantasy photography?
I have always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy and I’ve been a storyteller since middle school. It seemed natural to dress up my friends, stage scenes, and shoot them. As I continued doing this, I got better and better. Now, I have a full blown epic mythology in which I can play and shoot.
How is fantasy photography perceived by the rest of the world and by your colleagues?
Do a search on fantasy photography and you may very well get sexy shots of nearly naked women. That is essentially what most people envision when they think “fantasy photography”. It’s certainly the bastard child of fantasy art and photography. When I first started five/six years ago, it was very difficult to get into art shows and when I do, I find very rough fantasy photography pieces hanging in the gallery. Things are very much improved in the last couple of years as technology has advanced drastically and more and more photographers get into the field. In the future, I hope that I will never get this question at shows, “Oh, is it photo manipulation?” It’s almost like asking, “Oh, did you scribble something with paint?”
I saw you evolving from on site props, to Photoshop. What is the advantage you see in using Photoshop? Is there anything you enjoy more about props?
I love using real backgrounds and real objects that the model/actors can interact with. Nothing creates that sense of realism more than the real world. However, there are many magickal effects that I envision that can only be created using “green screen” technology and tools. When I first started, I used and built real wings exclusive to each individual characters. I learned quickly that the wings limit the models’ movements, therefore limit what we can achieve. Now, I judiciously use props where appropriate, real settings when possible, and create the rest using my imagination.
How much of what we see in the final image was there in the photoshot?
This depends entirely on which image you are talking about. Some images are nearly untouched except for some lighting and the addition of wings on the faeries. Some images look NOTHING like the original image, if you can even say there was an original image. I’ve been known to combine 20+ photographs to create one completely natural looking background of nothing more than a moonlit meadow with trees and mountains in the back.
Do you work with professional models? How is that?
I prefer to work with people who have the “spark” of the fae in them. I keep an eye out for people I meet in the real world who embodies the characters I enjoy writing about. I do work with professional models, not simply because they are models, but because they have the “spark” that I want and they have experience. ModelMayhem.com has become a great networking site for me to find the faeries that I’m looking for.
Could you tell us about how you select the stage? What about the outfits?
I’ve been working on the Time of the Faeries graphic novel series. The story is mostly written. Photoshoots now support the story, so the setting and the stage is determined by the scenes that we are focusing on. Ditto for the characters and the outfits. It’s an exciting project, but at the same time, I’m saddened by the fact that I can’t just throw something random on a model and go out and discover the characters as I once did.
Tell our readers about your project “Time of the Faeries”.
Time of the Faeries is an epic retelling of the faerie mythology in order to bring them to the modern world and answer the question, “How would a faerie fare if she should return to our world?” Our answers are dark and adult and meant to provoke thoughts and discussion about the world in which we live in. A prologue book was published by Imaginosis in 2007. Since then, we’ve been slowly developing the graphic novel series. We are at the exciting point where we can almost see the finish line, a beautiful graphic novel in our hands within the next few months.
Why do you include angels and vampires together with faeries? How do you consider them similar?
In Time of the Faeries the angels and vampires are sub-species of faeries. They are all magickal, if not winged feminine creatures. It just seemed the most natural evolution to me. I created this mythological evolution so that I can compare three aspects of our modern day human life: internal growth, stagnancy, and outside control. The faeries represent our capacity to change ourselves and become something better, whatever that may be. The vampires represent our human tendency to stagnate, stand still, and do nothing with our lives. The angels represent the outside forces that, if we’re not careful, determine our fate without our awareness.
Your style is dark and urban, yet not heavy or oppressive. How do you achieve this balance?
Trial and error. Trial and error.
Is there anything else you are working on at the moment?
Oh, you’re so funny! I wish I have time to work on something else. The writing takes up a lot of time, that’s true. What also takes up an incredible amount of time is the images themselves. Each image can take anywhere from one day to two weeks. In order to finish the graphic novel anytime in the near future, I’ve tied myself down to my computer chair and have given up on the idea of having a life.
What is something that you would love to do and have not done?
I would love to travel to many different countries so that I can, what else, take lots of photographs. Once the graphic novels are complete, the first order of business is to visit Japan. What I wouldn’t give to have that magickal world become a part of Time of the Faeries.
Where can our readers find your art?
Will you be doing conventions?
This year, we are limiting our convention attendance in order to focus on the graphic novels. We will be at Dragon*con, so if you are heading there, be sure to look us up!
I’ve been a fantasy model for six years, and even with all of that experience, I don’t think I could portray a traditional, classical faerie. I don’t know what it’s like to be pretty and perfect, and live a pretty, perfect life. But what I think Joseph has done (and why I think he’s received such tremendous response to his artwork) is created faeries and other characters we can identify with. What sets his faeries apart from other past and contemporary renderings is that they are flawed, and through these flaws we can see glimpses of ourselves. I see the hunger of his vampires, the arrogance of his angels, and the chaos of his faeries and I understand them. Joseph’s art isn’t just a window into a mystical realm; it’s also a mirror that reflects our own image and our own world back at us.
Joseph has the ability of the world-traveller bringing the magic of the magical creatures and realms into a reality that is closer and more real, just as if you could go into a dark alley and find a fairy in disguise. “Time of the fairies” brings a new dawn for the feeric creatures as if they never vanished at all. Plus I’d say Joseph is a very gentle and passionate artist and I’m very sure all the models had a great fun making the shoot.