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How Fine Art Photographer Julio Hardy received an offer to photograph the production of a major motion picture.

 

julio hardyI started doing photography when I was 15 years old and was living in Berlin. My first camera was an Exacta Varex, a camera manufactured in East Germany with Zeiss Jena lenses (in those days Zeiss had two factories: Jena in East Germany and Ikon in West Germany).

Berlin was a city divided by the Wall and the scars of the WW II were still present; some urban landscapes were extremely appealing and in those days I focused in street photography being Cartier Bresson the model to follow. When returning to Argentina (my home country) I joined the largest Photo Club in Latin America (Photo Club Buenos Aires) and participated in monthly local and international competitions for several years before becoming a fashion photographer.

Meanwhile I finished University and become involved in satellite telecommunications technology. Photography was left aside for over 30 years. 5 years ago, living in Southern Europe, I decided to grab my cameras again, submitted some works to the Black & White Spider Awards and was awarded Best Photographer of the Year in 2007. That award gave me the confidence to build a website (www.juliohardy.com) and to participate in some exhibitions in Rome, US and Spain. After publishing several times in Black and White Magazine, I began selling copies in both the US and European market and started considering myself a Fine Art and Reportage photographer.

In this sense my style is a mix of Fine Art and Photojournalism. I’m still the kind of photographer that privilege doing single images rather than portfolios. However last year I started working in a portfolio about an isolated and remote school in the border of Argentina and Bolvia, located in a valley at 15,000 feet high. That portfolio was seen by the producer (http://www.blurb.com/books/1474122) and it was that style who appealed David Heyman (producer of all Harry Potter’s movies) inviting me to work as a unit still photographer in a movie to be shot at the Shepperton Studios in London (where all the James Bond Movies and Orson Wells’ The Third Man were shot, among many others). The movie was Gravity, a Warner’s Sci Fiction movie starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

The Director was the visionary Mexican Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter, Great Expectations, Children of Men). When asked, David Heyman told me he has chosen me because my work has the boldness and beauty that they were looking for . They had the desire, he said, to have a fine art / reportage photographer to record and capture the essence what is happening at the Shepperton Studios. Sasha Gibson, the Unit Publicist, told they conducted an online research: keywords were Fine Art and Reportage.

Once in London, at the Shepperton Studios, I asked for a brief.”There’s no brief”, director Alfonso Cuaron told me; “you can do what you want provided you don’t do the usual boring shots of the unit still photographers; be creative.” For several days I was like a ghost among the dozens of technicians working in the studios: I was able to do whatever I wanted provided I don’t disturbed the crew and actors; I wasn’t allowed to do any noise at all. And that was the main problem; I was obliged to use a sound blimp (I purchased a Camera Muzzle for that purpose) and found myself shooting with my Canon 5D Mark II enclosed in a huge soft blimp filled with foam and being almost unable to change settings of the camera. To assure an almost silent shooting I configured the camera in Live Mode, with the mirror locked up. I felt like an elephant in a glass bazaar. By not having a brief I concentrated in shooting the interaction between the director and the actors, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, and the advanced technology used to simulate gravity in a space station.

The agreement I signed with Warner was something absolutely unusual to me: I had to give up the copyright and signed an NDA committing not to display any of the images. However I managed to include a clause that allows me to have the images in my portfolio, do an exhibition or release a book, once the movie is released in 2012.

Looking back the only thing I would have done differently was carrying a point-and-shot camera avoiding to use a sound blimp when the movie camera was rolling and use the Canon 5D with the mirror locked up –without sound blimp- during the rehearsals.

Working as a unit still photographer was indeed an outstanding experience, specially for the challenge of doing fine art in an environment where the light was subtle and the subjects were not very appealing (I mean of course the technology used on set, not the actors).

Finally I would like to stress that having a website, being present in the Internet, was indeed the factor that allowed me to get contacted by the filmmakers. That job gave me more confidence and convinced me that there are plenty of opportunities out there for a photographer. Although sometimes is just a matter of serendipity.

Contact Julio: juliofhardy@gmail.com