All images by Manu Cabanero. Used with permission.
“I’m a geek passionate for films and comics.” says Manu Cabanero in his email to the Phoblographer about his latest and greatest photo project called Splash Wars. Inspired by the work of Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz, Manu is a self-taught portrait photographer based in Barcelona.
While exploring Behance, I found his profile and the work he was doing way back in September. But Manu told me of a bigger project he was working on. So far, he’s only done with part one of Splash Wars, and there is much more to come.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Manu: I started first with filmmaking. I really enjoy making short films and having fun with friends, I like telling stories. When I was a child, fiction films were my inspiration and I wanted to emulate the pros. I discovered that condensing a whole story in a single image was something extremely powerful. So I saved money and bought my first DSLR and since then I’ve always wanted to share my passion.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into portraiture and conceptual work like what you’re doing in Splash Wars?
Manu: People, I love people. I think everyone has a story to tell. There is a phrase by Annie Leivobitz which reads: “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them.” I think it’s very important to “click” with people.
Phoblographer: Where did the idea to create Star Wars characters come from and how did you go about explaining your creative vision to the models?
Manu: It all started when I saw the excellent work of Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz. This man was bathing his models with milk and transformed into fictional characters. It was magic and I wanted to make that magic.
The references are always very helpful when you want to explain something to someone. Filling your creative proposal with references is a simple way to show to your models what you want to reach.
Phoblographer: When you went about creating these, did you storyboard or sketch the images out beforehand? What was the planning like?
Manu: Yes, I actually have some drawings made with Photoshop. The drawings, photos and light diagrams help to understand your intentions not only for the models but also for me.
First we had to think about what characters are representative of the series and which are feasible to do with milk and then give a feminine tone. There had to be epic but sensual at the same time.
Phoblographer: Technically speaking, how was this achieved and what gear did you use? What about the post-production? I’m very sure this had to involve a monolight with a fast flash duration.
Manu: This was a challenge for me, but not impossible! The technical conditions should not cut your wings.
My gear is quite modest. I have a Canon 7D, the Tamron 24-70mm, some Speedlite flashes, a lot of AA batteries, and some light diffusers.
The post production may be the hardest part. Not always everything goes as planned, so once you have the photos, it’s important to have good organization inside the psd file, like renaming layers and adding notes. But the most important thing is to be patient and positive.
Phoblographer: This is part 1 of the series, so what do you have in mind for the other parts?
Manu: Part 1 represents the main characters of the saga, Leia, Luke and Vader, the happy family :).
For the next one I want to give prominence to those characters we see in the background like the Stormtroopers and Boba Fett!
Phoblographer: Where do you want this project to evolve and go? Into a book? A gallery?
Manu: I would love to publish a book. Making a digital photo into something tangible is precious and unique. A kickstarter project would be a pretty interesting way but I’m still evaluating options.