I’m always searching for interesting personal projects, ideas that are worth the effort and time it takes to make it visible. Nowadays more people are familiar with my work and quite often they send me suggestions for themes or models for photoshoots. For my personal projects I prefer to come up with my own concepts, but every once in a while along comes a project that is really hard to say no to…
This time it was an idea suggested by Maija, an amateur model trying to find a photographer for an ambitious aim to bring alive Neytiri from the movie Avatar. She appeared to be unsure about herself as a model and genuinely surprised that I was interested in taking part in the project. For me this was a no brainer: First of all, I love the movie and all the hypervisual elements in it, and secondly, she had already done a good job finding a talented makeup artist/bodypainter and hairstylist to do what was needed to transform her to Neytiri, making it easy to just jump along in the planning. My first move was to ask my good friend Marko Paakkanen if he could contribute something to the project and he answered by creating a real size avatar ceremonial bow, how cool is that!
Again, for this project a lot of different talents and elements came together and created something none of us could have done on our own. It took hours and hours of planning, collecting moodboards and making the props and costumes -including tens of hours to make the unique bow, six hours to braid the hair and nine hours to paint the body. Finally, three more hours in the photoshoot, I-didn’t-even-count-how-many hours retouching the images and we were done, literally. I’m proud to present what we accomplished, and I can only hope I will stumble on similar projects in the future, too!
While planning the project I realised that there was even more layers to it. I took for granted that she was more than suited for playing the part of Neytiri, having even the exact right physique for it: long limbs, noble neck and overall slender appearance. However, talking with her I was stunned to find out that she had recently transformed her lifestyle and lost a LOT of weight…and yet she was still struggling to see herself as beautiful. “I see you” is one of the important lines in the movie Avatar. Now I was hoping that the results of this photoshoot would make the world -and more importantly- her see herself for what she is.
Avatar is a story of trust, being different and standing up for yourself. I find many of the same elements in this story, and hope that people will get the same feeling from seeing Maija as Neytiri in these images.
Bodypaint/makeup : https://www.facebook.com/jonnaharkanenmakeup
Avatar Bow : https://www.facebook.com/makingscalemodels