Narrative Photography | Polar Dust

October 9, 2014 · 3 comments

in Equipment,Lifestyle,News,portraiture

When Sara Eksteen approached me to do the photography for the album cover for her band, Polar Dust, I was delighted to work on such a conceptual shoot.

Sara’s brief was that she wanted dark, gritty, Alfred Hitchcock inspired images. Each member of the band represented an element (Earth, air, fire and water) and were to be portrayed in a death scene relating to their element, photographed at the moment the soul leaves the body. To achieve this effect, all the images are multiple exposures, with one of the images shot with a slow shutter speed to create the motion of the soul leaving.

We spent several weeks refining the concepts, finding a location, deciding on wardrobe and planning the logistics of spending an entire day shooting at a location with no power.

I shot two of the four images with studio lighting and an Explorer battery pack, which was recharged on the generator that Sara brought.

Sara’s element was air, and her death scene was by way of strangulation / suffocation.  This image was shot with an 85mm f/1.8 lens, using ambient lighting and a reflector.


Marc’s element was earth, and his death scene was portrayed as a suicidal jump from the open window behind him. To get such a low perspective, I was shooting ground level in an empty swimming pool. This image was shot with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and was lit with two studio lights. Because it was so bright, I used an ND400 filter to get the second image with the motion blur.


Alexia’s element was water, and inspired by Ophelia, her death scene was drowning. This image was shot with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and ambient light. It may be noteworthy to mention that it wasn’t exactly summer and the water was freezing, but Alexia was such a trooper!


Gerhard’s element was fire, and his death scene was incineration. Of all the images, this one was the trickiest. We were also delayed by two hours because all three fire extinguishers we had were faulty and we needed to get a new one.


This image was shot with a 24-105mm f/4 lens, and Gerhard was lit with a single beauty dish. Once I had shot the motion blur images, the moment we had all been waiting for finally arrived… we got to set the chair on fire! I shot several images of the chair burning, and then all the elements were composited in Photoshop.


For the group photo, I photographed each person with a single beauty dish against a black backdrop.


Special thanks to Charlene Warwick for the lovely make-up, Ben for providing security and to Sara for her creative vision, coordinating the production, and keeping everyone fed and happy!



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara October 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Special thanks to Kate Hughes for the portraits makeup :D

Justine McFarlane (@Justinemax) November 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

Phwooaaar these are just ……………beyond incredibly awesome Rikki – can’t stop staring at them. Well done Erika for incubating such an astoundingly talented human being. Yikes!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: