Angel by Haley Blavka
The editorial Angel was shot in Seattle, Washington by fashion photographer and producer Haley Blavka and stylist Kristin Myllenbeck. The main theme is surrealism created in a dreamlike atmosphere which is created by contrasting the warm colors of garments and nature with cold weather and the last sun rays.
The story features Angel Cielos with his powerful, determined, energetic, dynamic, hypnotizing presence.
"The most important thing Angel brought to this shoot was an absence of fear, if not his uncanny passion, for expression".
Tell about the idea for this editorial, what was the most important element for you to convey?
Funny enough, this editorial was originally strongly based around an element that ended up failing day-of, so as we began shooting the most important thing for me to convey was a visually captivating story that could stand on its own in a direction that I was not anticipating!
Did you have this location in mind before the shooting or had to scout for it after having an idea? Where did it take place?
I knew I wanted the location to provide a slight sense of dreamlike surrealism and went back and forth in my head for months on where it should be shot. It was actually during a rollerblading meeting break that I found our final location. This location never came to mind when thinking about the editorial earlier simply because it's a very popular park in the center of the city that we've all been to a handful of times and I probably shot senior portraits at years ago. But the day I was rollerblading the sky was bright blue, and the grass was such vibrant green, and as soon as I arrived, it reminded me of the first time I had visited the park that overcame with surrealism. It hit me then that that's where we needed to shoot. It was a plus that it was conveniently located within the city, but with that, my only challenge was to make it read like a place you had never been before.
The colors are incredible in combination with light, natural element, and styling by Kris Myllenbeck. How did you approach the brainstorm for this shoot as connected to styling aligning with the angles to shoot?
Thank you! This was Kristen & I first time working together on a non-commercial editorial, and without her expert skills and vision for editorial styling, I am not sure this story would have come together. Luckily, Kristen and I had a very easy time collaborating, jamming on reference images, and exploring ideas of whom we could pull from locally. I told her my instinct was to go monochromatic with garments that provide texture and movement, she took that and ran it to a whole new level.
"I knew I wanted the location to provide a slight sense of dreamlike surrealism and went back and forth in my head for months on where it should be shot. It was actually during a rollerblading meeting break that I found our final location".
The attitude that Angel Cielos transmits in the frame is captivating the sight when you try to relive the moment and understand the emotions the story builds. How is it working with the talent who is elastic with poses, confident, and in movement when we speak of the vision for the project and the changes that naturally occur on set?
Angel is incredible. The first time I saw him, was on stage a few years ago at a local tribute show and I was convinced he'd be an incredible subject in front of the camera. Before modeling, he was first an emerging artist (Koga Shabazz) and an extraordinary performer with infectious energy. The most important thing Angel brought to this shoot was an absence of fear, if not his uncanny passion, for expression. He never shied away from any direction even though I'm pretty sure he had never before shot with the energy we were trying to convey that day. Not only did he confidently take direction but he ran with it experimenting with a new term we came up with on set - 'Balenci-awkward'. It's a good problem to have when your subject can't contain their ideas for poses and angles, only to be stopped by the need of wardrobe preservation.
What is the most challenging part when shooting in nature for you?
We live in Seattle Washington, where we are known for our rain. When the shoot finally came together, it was fall and the bright sunny days became sparse and unpredictable. Of course with so many people and parts involved in the project, we couldn't just wait for a sunny day and go out and shoot. The most challenging part was picking a date and sticking with it not knowing what nature would bring for us, even if it was just a grey sky for the first half of the day, I am grateful it was not raining, and just had to find a way to make it interesting.