Have you ever wondered about the stories behind some of the world’s most iconic images? Our series “Legendary Photos,” features photographers from Canon’s Legends program giving us behind-the-scenes insight on how they captured these unforgettable moments. For this edition of Legendary Photos, fine art photographer Parish Kohanim shares the stories behind seven of his signature images utilizing striking color and monochrome palettes.
As the title indicates, we have a choice to go through life with “Closed Eyes,” ignoring all gifts and beauties of our magnificent planet, or rush from one place to another or being distracted by our devices and mindless social media messages. With our “Eyes Open,” we can appreciate and cherish all the beautiful and precious gifts that we are fortunate to have in our lives.
My philosophy in creating my images is to first and foremost explore a dimension of photography that is new, unique, and fresh. My second goal is to create an image that represents my narrative and style of photography.
Stripes Study II
I did a three-pose study of this image. I try to do as much as possible “in camera” for all my shoots, so planning and research are fundamental and essential. For the costume, I worked with my friend, the costume designer at The Boston Ballet, to get just the right costume design. This took many emails and phone conversations. After seeing several outfits, this was the first one I really liked. The model is sitting on a very large, striped fabric and I used the same patterned fabric for the background.
The photo was created completely in camera, which saved me lots of time (and money) on postproduction and retouching.
Blue Muse Study II
The first study of this photo was shot several years ago using a male model. It was time to do a second study with a female model.
My philosophy in all my shoots is to keep everything simple and focus on getting the most unique photo possible. My camera for this was the Canon 5DS R with one of my favorite lenses, the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L. I used only two lights, a six-foot softbox for the background and one hectogon softbox to illuminate the model using all studio strobes.
Paintscapes Study II
Using a face as a canvas. All of my photo sessions are a collaborative endeavor. I seek to hire people who can bring additional and fresh input into each session. Their excitement and energy always fuel mine. For instance, the make-up artist had a wonderful idea about the eye make-up and the lips. As a respect to my model, I constantly check her comfort level and make her realize that she is a very important part of this shoot by keep her engaged and showing the progress of the make-up on a 30-inch monitor and listening to her input.
Luminosa Study IV
This “Frozen in Time” image is a part of a five-year collaboration with Cirque du Solei performers for a coffee table book called Luminosa. An extensive amount of planning was used before each and all the sessions of this project.
Synergizing with the most extraordinary and committed performers whose imaginative abilities and vision for creating “one of a kind” art which is beyond gymnastics, dance, and ballet. Their exuberant energy ignited mine and amplified my creativity!
I am forever grateful for their most valuable and most inspiring contributions to this project. All the images were shot using powerful studio strobes shot at either 1/5000th or 1/7500th of a second in order to freeze the performers in action and capture the perfect shot.
After the completion of all the five-year sessions, I had created over 34,000 one of a kind frozen images. Again, the participation and commentary from each performer was so important because they saw minute details that I did not see.
The camera was a Canon 5DS R. It often took several hours to get that “one image” we were happy with.
I used studio strobes for the lighting. The background was a 30-foot large canvas that took me many hours to paint. I chose not to purchase a commercially available painted canvas because I wanted it to be unique and one of a kind, just like the final images themselves.
It took “many shots” to end-up with this shot. The performer is not holding the pose. She’s doing the same pose over and over again for a split second and captured at 1/5000th of a second. I chose to shoot the side view of this pose (not showing her face) because it was aesthetically and compositionally more interesting.
Angelica with Red Rose
There is a quote by Henri Cartier Bresson: “I see more without my camera.” I am a photo opportunist; always looking for ideas that nature presents me! I got the idea for this photo from my flower garden in the backyard of my studio. One day when I was about to enter my studio, I saw the shadow patterns on a flowerpot and asked my assistant to stand on a chair with the same patterns on her leg.
I always try to make everything simple, so I used the same chair and put a very large spotlight to project the patters on the model. I used a spotlight on the model and a softbox for the background.
New Reflections Study
This image is a part of a series of images titled “Reflections.” The model is directly behind a large mirror. My goal was to get the model’s “actual” reflection instead of inverting her image in Photoshop. I used Photoshop when necessary and sparingly. I never rely on post-production to save any of my images.