It’s fitting that Jim Fiscus, an award-winning photographer renowned for his layered and stylized photographs, would produce a “digital novella” as a personal project. The twelve-frame story about an obsessed artist was an ambitious undertaking by Fiscus and his digital team, culminating in an exhibition at the M Project Gallery in New York City last June.
Voted International Photographer of the Year in 2005 at the International Photographer Awards, the Athens, Georgia-based photographer’s work has appeared in campaigns for a diverse range of advertising and editorial clients and his photographs have appeared twice on the cover of CA (as well as a feature article in the January/February 2007 issue).
In the early 2000s, he garnered fame for his extravagant portraits of hip-hop stars including Usher, Nelly, Jay-Z and a series of elaborate tableaus recalling circus sideshows with Ludacris as the ringmaster. Whether he is recreating The Birth of Venus
for a Renaissance Hotels campaign, shooting portraits like Hell’s Kitchen
's chef Gordon Ramsay in a bathtub of caviar, surrounded by a Roman excess of exotic food, or making sexy, gritty fashion shots for Levi’s 501s, Fiscus’s photographs are cinematic in nature and quality.
His photographic novella melds fine art and digital work into a seamless expression of fantasy that evinces even more of a cinematic flair. Fiscus spent four months on the project, art directing the CGI from FTP sites every night, while in various hotels on assignment. “It’s a paintbrush, but someone still has to direct it,” he explains. “Jim’s project was an amazing opportunity for our team to unleash the fine-art potential of CGI,” notes Impact Digital founder Steve Kalalian, whose award-wining digital art and CGI boutique worked with Jim and his team. “It’s very rewarding to be able to bring scenes to life in the computer, starting with sketches, references and the vision of a gifted artist like Jim.”
“When we signed Jim, he was radically different from our other talent in the post-production sense—he really knows how to manage post. At the time, our entertainment clients stylized their images themselves, but Jim gave them an identity and a look,” explains his rep Bill Stockland, of New York’s Stockland Martel. “He took care of all of it. And Misunderstanding
is Jim yet again at the forefront of what’s possible with technology.” CA
: What was the genesis of this project?Fiscus
: The project started as a single-frame drawing of a mannequin maker. Then it evolved into my version of a fashion series. I wanted to experiment with a story where I could try some new things. CA
: It’s unusual for a personal project to be so complex. Why tackle such an ambitious one, especially in this economic climate?Fiscus
: The images in the series tell a story about a wood carver who carves the same doll many times. The project sat around as a drawing for a few years and probably grew more complicated as it sat. I always try to tell a story in a single frame. This concept sort of accidentally evolved into a multiple-image sequence. Without client restraint or demand, the project grew to the size it naturally wanted to be. I really just needed to take a break and work on personal images. CA
: Can you detail some of the elements (i.e., costume design, makeup, etc.) that went into the project? Fiscus
: A single frame and then a simple storyboard. After the sequence was established, a considerable amount of time was spent on set design. It had to be the right combination of physical set styling and CGI backplates. The best in hair, makeup and wardrobe were gathered and they were encouraged to run wild. I took a little risk with the light. Post took time and care. At the end of the prep, it was a working scenario that felt right, and I produced the motion sequence off of what was functioning as a print shoot.