Jack the Ripper is a Beautiful Dark Photo Story

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All images by Vincent Palma. Used with permission.

When the girlfriend of photographer Vincent Palma contacted us pitching his special photo project, we were very surprised by the work. Vince was born in Stockholm, Sweden to Spanish parents and is a self-trained photographer. His goal is to one day work as a photographer and gallery owner in Japan. But what attracted us to much to him is his Jack the Ripper photo project–which wouldn’t have had its start unless Vince got his hands on his Dad’s film camera.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

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Vincent: I guess it started in middle school when i stole my dad’s Eos film camera with a bunch of rolls and used them up in one day. No happy ending that day for me but I got amazed at the thought that i just saved history in a roll of film. I made something out of my dad’s money (no joke on the no happy ending part). Years later when he got a Canon 400D I eventually stole it too. I was 18 maybe. I started to buy lenses, battery grip and when the 550d came out I sold my father’s camera and with some saved up money I bought it.

I was studying Japanese at the time so the natural thing was a trip to Japan 2010 and it was amazing! I did an exhibition (with some of the images I shot) that I am not so proud of but some images got bought. Could not believe it. Then I thought “let me get deeper into this world”. I had a Canon 7D late 2010 and on my next trip to Japan in 2011 I had two 7D bodies. I shot a wedding there and it all started very slow I realized because of my need of daily human interaction.

Phoblographer: What got you into headshots, portraiture and weddings?

Vincent: The action! And the interaction with people!

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I started using strobes in mid 2012 and shot some fashion inspired images and later moved onto making stories and saving them as a part of my history. Did not matter if it was digital or film because I loved photographing. And with speedlights! The most important part was the interaction with people. At that time I also got to know about Peter Hurley which helped me a lot! I even took a spot in his Stockholm Intensive course.

Phoblographer: Obviously, the Jack the Ripper project is personal work. But what inspired it?

Vincent: I have always been interested in the old and new and also a lot of movies. On my spare time I always watch something–movies, anime, youtube, listen to music. My brain is not allowed to think on its own for a second during those days. During the winter holidays I got a book from a friend. A Sherlock Holmes book. So while reading I also listened to the movie soundtrack. This combo does a lot in my brain so I created what could be something interesting for the spectators to look at. And by passing the old town in Stockholm everyday gave me another poke.

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Sherlock Holmes as an example was a good inspiration. But I needed something crueler. Then i thought about the ripper.

Phoblographer: How did you go about coming up with the scenes that we see in the images?

Vincent: For this project the models had to be my friends. So I presented my idea and how many frames I wanted for a complete story and then I started to sketch a rough image through the comments.

It would not be easy because it was snowing outside so I had to do a composition of everything with my studio shoot and some other day to the city.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you used.

Vincent: I switched from Canon 5D MKIII to a Nikon D750 and this shoot was my first to use the new camera and brand. Flashes. I love them and people who get photographed by me understand that too. I used the Elinchrom quadra pack, a lastolite hilite 2.5m, octaboxes and rim lights. I only had three studio lights so it was a little tricky to get the lights as i wanted for two people. I also used speedlights to complete everything.

Because I had to match everything in height and focal lengths I used a tripod and a paper to write down everything. This is also my first time to do such an extensive retouching. Many hours in Photoshop with dodge and burn and also thinking and learning It got to this. Im still a beginner but I’m on my way to becoming better.

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Phoblographer: How did you work with the models? Was there storyboarding involved?

Vincent: As I said before a storyboard was made first roughly in my brain and to a completion with my models. While directing is not an easy task for most people i enjoy it and there is always music playing in the background. I used the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack for this shoot because it would help both me and the models get into action mode.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.