Straight Line, Curved Line
Myy Jeraffi is a photographer and aspiring filmmaker from Los-Angeles, currently located in Tel-Aviv. Myy shot a story revolving around two of the Batsheva Dancers, Ben and Ohad, in their home in Jaffa. Capturing their ‘old Hollywood’ aesthetic in the old city while carefully illuminating the story with a beautiful natural light in contrast to the additional artificial lights. The dancers movements, postures, and gaze are exquisite, comfortable, body aware in a well familiar place. The archaic old floors with mosaic images merge an authentic atmosphere of Jaffa with a nostalgic cinematic style.
Myy gives particular attention to the movement of hands, the features of the face, the softness of the gaze, the personality in the frame, and always the striking contrast between different types of light and shadows. Photos touch upon something real, the inner part of the person’s character, a delicate passion while focusing on the little details. In this feature, we present the story Straight Line, Curved Line in addition to selected works photographed by Myy Jeraffi.
"I usually don’t begin shooting with a particular narrative in mind as most of my work is collaborative. I like to photograph people who have developed a strong personality".
What is the story about?
There is no story, not a singular story that is. I usually don’t begin shooting with a particular narrative in mind as most of my work is collaborative. I like to photograph people who have developed a strong personality and aesthetic and try and capture that through my lens. The beauty of photographing for me is that the narrative unfolds differently through the eyes of each observer. Each individual perceives an image differently. That’s the magic of storytelling for me, that variation... and I think that holds true in all artistic mediums, not just photography.
The location and composition seem to be very carefully chosen as the immediate background of the flat and the view you see from the window are aesthetically pleasing and create an interest for the eye. How do you work on creating the composition?
The location is actually Ben and Ohad’s apartment. I immediately fell in love with their space when I first saw it. Both have such a striking aesthetic that it was beautiful to find it perfectly reflected in their home. I asked to take their portrait there because I just couldn’t imagine capturing them anywhere else! In regards to composition, I find that I am always drawn to the contrast of straight lines and curved lines in an image and how they intersect. I often try and find a balance between the two.
"I find that many times dancers allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of the camera, which I love. You can see that interpreted as a kind of softness in the hands, the shoulders, and the eyes".
How is it different to shoot dancers, Ben and Ohad, when compared to models in terms of the movements of dancers and the knowledge of their bodies?
I must admit that I don’t really shoot many models, as I prefer to shoot documentary photography and portraiture, and am often just photographing my friends. From my experience, what stands out to me the most when shooting dancers is precisely what you said, the awareness they have of their bodies. I find that many times dancers allow themselves to be vulnerable in front of the camera, which I love. You can see that interpreted as a kind of softness in the hands, the shoulders, and the eyes. Those details are important to me. There is something very striking about capturing this kind of presence.
"I love playing with opposite colors, especially with 35mm film. I used the warm yellow light of the lamps to contrast the blue light coming in from the windows... there is something a bit nostalgic about that color combination for me".
You work with both natural light coming from the window and artificial light as a lamp. How do you think light enhances the facial expressions and the silhouette in this shoot?
I work with what I have honestly, which is usually natural light and whatever else is lying around! At Ben and Ohad’s place, I had a few lamps to work with, which was fun. I love playing with opposite colors, especially with 35mm film. I used the warm yellow light of the lamps to contrast the blue light coming in from the windows... there is something a bit nostalgic about that color combination for me. Everything in photography is a play of light and shadow, so when it comes to using light to enhance expression, I think it has a lot to do with what you choose to reveal. I think many times I prefer to reveal less as it provokes my imagination.
Does is help knowing the person you feature in your shoot when directing them?
I don’t think it makes a difference for me. Although I’ve photographed many people I know, I feel that being photographed is such an intimate experience that there is a certain trust that has to happen first. I am terrified of being photographed myself, so I understand that vulnerability. It just has to do with how comfortable a person is in that type of setting. I’ve photographed many friends who tense up in front of my lens, and many strangers who feel at ease, and vice versa. I just try and be honest when I am directing, while also leaving room for experimentation. But most importantly I remind people to breathe! I feel like that’s something that's so easy to forget sometimes.