Respect The Cool

My friend Albert Minja contacted me for a shoot. He is a poet, song writer, rapper and everything Artistic in between. In a nutshell dude is gifted. He had this idea of coming up with something Artistic for a song he was putting together. The song basically talked about the importance of being calm in a storm and so he wanted me to help him execute the idea visually by doing something cool that could be used as the Art cover for the promotion of the song. So we got thinking and after about  a week we came up with an idea of showing him as a character looking cool, calm and collected in a stormy sea. But how was it going to happen. The only thing that was coming to my mind then was going all the way to the Coast of Kenya (Mombasa or Malindi) and shooting in the Indian Ocean but there was going to be so much involved, first the time was not going to be enough planning all this, then the resources considering we were going to work with a team and third the risk involved i.e shooting in the midst of a storm of waves. It was going to risk us losing our lives and/or gear which I was very ready to do, I had even called a Navy friend to ask how possible this was going to be and if he could help, but Albert was not sure about the idea of shooting at the Indian ocean. So the only other option left was to find a body of water preferably a small lake, river or dam then do the rest in Photoshop.

We made a few calls and our friend Vicky came in with a brilliant idea of using a swimming pool and she offered hers. Trish a beast stylist came on board to help with ideas on how to put this together as a co-director. And we had a few people who were so excited abut the whole project when they heard about it and offered to come help on set.

For the gear I was going to have to work with the most portable stuff possible and the kind that I wouldn't have to worry so much about it getting into the water. I used a total of 4 Canon flashes and 2 soft boxes for my lighting, 2 flashes for each soft box to achieve the results below.

Half of the work was on set and half on post-production but the idea was to try achieve as much as we could on set, have almost ready to use images by the end of the shoot so that I only get to do what is necessary on Photoshop and that's how I like doing it. GET IT RIGHT ON SET (I wish I could underline this but it's in caps so you get the point). We also opted to use a black plain background for ease when it comes to compositing a different one and had two assistants pouring the water from both sides of the subject to create a ripple/splash effect of the water as you can see below. So the only Photoshop that I did was removing the black background and compositing the sky and sea, doing some color grading and of course giving the images my signature look.

The one important thing to note is that how the shoot turned out was all a journey. A beautiful journey. We had a plan from the start and we knew what we wanted to achieve but we din't have the nitty gritties on how everything was going to be achieved. For instance the idea of using basins to pour water to get the splashy effect came when we were in the pool thinking how we were going to achieve that. What I discovered was that working with a team and not just any team, but a team of like minded people makes things way easy and fun at the same time. Albert had to embrace the cold pool for about 3 hours and each time I said, "cut! We have to do it again..." He was not amused. But it had to be perfect. We couldn't have gone all the way, prepared that much for anything "normal" or mediocre. Trish, Brian, Mwaluma, Vicky and myself the same. It wasn't interesting being in that pool and not swimming for all those hours. But nothing good comes easy.

After a whole day of shooting, we wrapped things up at about 6:00 pm fully satisfied that our time, effort and resources were all well spent.

LESSON LEARNT: The key to doing something is to simply do it. People have the tendency of doing things when it's "convenient" or when they are "ready" and they never get done. If you have an idea in mind, give yourself a deadline and make it happen. Don’t worry about making it an A-game from the start! Be guaranteed that in the process you will fail at some point in time, so accept that reality and still do it. Whatever it is you want to do in life, start today. Don’t wait until you’re old and your life becomes a series of should haves, or till you have this and that kind of gear or resources or even people. When we began putting this together the whole concept appeared bigger than us but we took it one step at a time, trimmed our location from a Sea, to a river, to a pool with an accompaniment of a few shillings worth plastic basins and we still got what we wanted.

Don't postpone, just NIKE IT!


LIGHTING ASSISTANTS - Brian Michael, Joseph Mwaluma

OTHER ASSISTANTS - Vicky Kariithi, Isabella Ojodo

BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTOS - Caroline (Murash Media)

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