All images by Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz. Used with permission.
Photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz is world famous for lots of the work that he’s done. It started with the Milky Pinups, then the Splash Wars, and before all that was the Bamboo Forest. They’ve all used liquid and milk to create shapes and clothing on people. But now, he’s releasing a brand new series. It’s called Fallen Angels, and is being released in a Calendar for those interesting in purchasing it.
For Jaroslav, Fallen Angels has a very deep and personal importance. A couple of years back, his mother got breast cancer and she is still fighting it. But he also lost a lot of people who were very dear to him. “You can find in that set images related to my mother battle with breast cancer, cases of severe depression in my family, my gay friends that were moving from country to country to find their peace, soldiers coming home wounded from a warfares or simply my fear of constantly passing time.” says Jaroslav about the project. Fallen Angels is his personal ode to all of them.
Phoblographer: I know that this series is dedicated to people who were close to you that have passed and cancer victims, but what gave you the inspiration to actually create images in this way?
Jaroslav: Yes that is true, This series is very personal and I am happy that we have managed to make it happen. The idea for the Fallen Angels 2016 Milk Calendar came about four years ago when my mother was battling breast cancer. It was a time when you have to evaluate your actions and goals.
The image I had in my mind brought about a series of images of people that are, or were, special and inspired me, but specifically those that due to the their look, actions or lifestyle were pushed outside of the margins of acknowledged standards of beauty or for what’s deemed ‘normal’ by society.
I planned to keep the illustration as simple as possible without unnecessary technical trickery and colours. It is just pure white liquid and the subject matter. I trust we have managed just that!
Phoblographer: So how was this done? It looks like no models are actually involved this time around.
Jaroslav: We had models and we had everyday people on the set. And all of them gave their best. The making process is not very pleasant for the model and it doesn’t matter that you have years of experience in the industry or it is your first day on the set.
I like to work with people and even though it is quite uncomfortable shoot the atmosphere is very friendly. We don’t push anyone and there is no time pressure.
Technically it was a bit different, than the previous series. Throwing milk on people faces was something new for sure…Also the sizes and shapes of the wings were specific and getting that part right, took most of the time.
If I had to describe the lighting set-up for Fallen Angels I would call it as “The Cage”. It is completely different from previous series. The models for Milky PinUps were lit by diagonally set softboxes, for Splash Heroes we used up to seven heads and mixed soft with hard lighting.
For Fallen Angels we built a ‘cage’ around the model out of giant and medium shoot-through Lastolite panels. It gave us a soft but three-dimensional light that I needed for the considerably big angel wings. I couldn’t achieve that with a softbox.
Phoblographer: You’ve been working on this one since 2011; so what took you such a long time to finish it? Did you want to ensure that it was just right?
Jaroslav: I count the time from the moment I finish the first sketch. After that the project lives on its own, mainly in my head…Idea for the next illustration can show up any time. I don’t force myself and don’t sketch 12 images just to fill the pages in the calendar. As you mentioned the idea for the first Angel came about in 2011 and the last one in September 2015. So spontaneously that it stunned me at first.
I love to work on these photo calendars because it frees my mind and gives me so much creative freedom.
Everyone that works in a commercial environment understands that it is a completely different game. You are hired to do a specific assignment. There is a budget and a whole lot of people that manage the brief and production. Like in life there are many rules, should-do, can-do or do-nots… when you have that precious time to work on personal projects there is absolutely nothing that you shouldn’t try and that should stop or push you!
Sometimes it is all done in a few weeks and sometimes in a few years.