The people, the place and even the weather aligned perfectly for this impromptu photoshoot in a lush field that was once an airport. Here, Carla details how this timeless photo of two musicians in transit emerged.
Words and Photography by Carla Step
This photo was taken during my trip to Berlin, in July of 2019. I spent a week visiting the city for the first time, and as I usually do when I travel, I planned some personal photoshoots there.
On this occasion, I met Remi and Pau, two musicians who had formed a duo. I asked through Instagram if anyone in Berlin was interested in being photographed, and Pau wrote to me. I knew him through mutual friends from Barcelona, so it was easy to organise a time to meet.
I did some research before the photoshoot, searching for inspiration, and the first thing that came to mind was to imagine them in the middle of an infinite field, with some flowers in hand.
I also wanted them to wear classic garments with neutral colours such as grey, white or black, so that the colour of their skin would take prominence.
“When I started shooting, I instantly felt the great connection & intimacy they have.”
Someone told me about Tempelhof, an old airport converted into a large park, and I decided it was the ideal place to meet them. That same morning I bought some flowers in a street park.
Pau & Remi came with different clothing options following my suggestions, and we started playing with the space. When I started shooting, I instantly felt the great connection & intimacy they have. It was a gift for me to work with two men who interacted in such a natural, free and sensitive way.
I practically did not have to tell them anything, I only indicated the spaces where I saw a possible photograph and they themselves found the pose and let themselves flow. It was incredible.
Specifically, in this photo I suggested that they lie down on the grass. They intuitively settled in and I gave Pau the flowers to hold as if giving Remi a gift. I looked for the best angle and shot.
Why did you want to take this photo?
I’ve always felt attracted to pictures of people lying in the grass. I don’t know exactly why but I have pictures saved in my mind from different artists of people lying in a big field. It’s like an idyllic scene that transports me to the smell of the grass and the sound of the birds. I’ve always wanted to shoot a picture that gives me that same feeling. When I shot that particular picture it was super intuitive for me, but I’m very sure that I had all of those images saved in my mind and it just came out unconsciously.
What gear did you use to take this photo?
I used an Olympus OM2n with a 50mm 1.8 Zuiko lens and Kodak Portra 400 film.
What was your light setup and exposure choices for this scene?
I did not have to make any specific light setup to take this picture. I just took advantage of the light filtered by the clouds to avoid having too harsh shadows and I think it worked very well.
“It has a very controlled colour palette and the light is soft and balanced.”
What camera settings did you use for this photo?
I didn’t think a lot about adjustments, I just made sure that everything was exposed and not blurry. I didn’t want to lose any of their movements so I just put my camera at the highest speed I could, having my aperture wide open at 1.8f and using a 400asa film.
What do you think makes it a great photo?
I think that what makes this image special is the mixture between their connection and the colours it has.
I shot it on film and then I edited the colours. In terms of adjustments, I first tried to control the greens on the image. I didn’t want it to have an electric green, so I just desaturated it a little bit and made it more natural. Then I modified the skin by turning it more yellow. This gave more contrast between the field and their skin.
I also turned down reds and pinks to eliminate the redness of their skin. And finally I added some blue to the shadows and adjusted the white balance to have a more warm scene.
I’m very happy with the result. It has a very controlled colour palette and the light is soft and balanced, which is very important to me.