Digital FeaturesPrince JesterJidoh
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Prince Jester · Jidoh 1 / 1
Interview

INTERVIEW

Jidoh

jidoh_portrait-©-Anne-Danao-low

© Anne Danao

Photography: Jidoh Models:Tal Hendrickse, Harley Lough Make-up:Andrew Gallimore Hair: Mark Francome Painter Stylist: Vesa Perakyla Set Design: Miyo Yoshida Photography Assistants: Anne Danao, Tanc Newbury Make-up Assistant: Pia Gartner Hair Assistant: Grace Hatcher Stylist Assistant: Nikolas Fotopoulos Retoucher: José Paulo Reis Kamera: Leica S (Typ 007) with Elmarit-S 45 f/2.8 ASPH. (CS), Summarit-S 70 f/2.5 ASPH. (CS) and APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120 f/2.5 (CS)

The artist duo JIDOH only joined forces in 2019. Now the photographers have realised their idiosyncratic vision of a medieval court jester: the resulting series is brimming with references to punk, dandy and Harlequin fashion, culminating in a broad spectrum of visual styles. This is no ordinary fashion shoot, but the first major project of an exciting new artist duo.

Here they talk about what inspires them, what they would like to convey with their stories, and how they made this series a reality.


Your Prince Jester series is highly artistic. Did you draw on any other forms of art? Who or what inspires you?
Doh: Mostly music. During our shoots, we place great importance on creating an environment in which the model can immerse themselves in their fictional persona. And we believe that, for this purpose, music is one of the most important elements on set. This is why Ji prepares a set list of music for every shoot, in order to create the right atmosphere at the right time.
Ji: Music also plays a crucial role in the concept development process. For instance, Prince Jester was inspired by the music video ‘Ganz Wien’ by David Loca and Geneva Jacuzzi. We both loved the magician’s performance, especially his expressions and movements throughout the video, and the music itself helped us build the character as well.

Was Prince Jester conceived as a personal project, or as a fashion assignment?
Doh: It was an entirely independent project.

Some of the images were captured outside, some in a studio. Where and when did you shoot the series, and how long did the entire production process take?
Ji: The shoot was on 27th September, and the whole production took a total of three months. We worked both inside and outside the Cre8 studio in East London.

In this series you conjure up a phantasy world with allusions to punk and dandy motifs and, most of all, the classic Harlequin aesthetic – diamond patterns are certainly a pervading theme. How would you describe the core concept behind the series?
Doh: The primary motif of this project was ‘the jester’ – a figure who, historically, served as a performer and entertainer in the medieval and Renaissance era. Our concept of the jester was based on various sources of inspiration, including the Joker, Harlequin, clowns, and the dark and twisted imagery related to these characters. Using the language of fashion photography, we set out to create our own story about a modern-day jester.

The series is characterised by a broad range of techniques. For example, you created a collage in which the same image is featured three times. What can you tell us about your approach?
Ji: In my eyes, that collage was the most experimental endeavour of the entire series. The image to the left, which shows Harley screaming with his face half-lit, is very intense and seemed quite difficult to combine with other images. When I was thinking about how to present these two contrasting pictures in conjunction with each other, I wondered if I could simply copy and paste it several times, like a magic card or the end of a game of solitaire, when the cards are replicated all across the screen. I decided to create a random layout, which happened to work perfectly with Harley’s mischievous smile, and added a more humorous element to the jester/joker story.

Did you have a narrative in mind for this series? Is there a specific storyline with regard to the protagonist and his poses?
Doh: Whilst researching actual jesters from medieval times, I came across a text about how court jesters tended to imitate the high-born audiences for whom they performed. This was an instant moment of inspiration, as I could immediately imagine a jester who dreamed of becoming a prince. At the same time, I could picture a prince who would much rather live the life of a jester than his own. Something along the lines of The Prince and the Pauper [by Mark Twain – ed. note].
Ji: Based on this idea, we tried to combine different aspects of the prince and the jester, and convey the breadth of their emotions within one story – melancholy, desire, anger, mania, and much more. This is how the different moods and poses you see in the images were created. Sometimes we asked the model to pose elegantly, like a prince; other times, he acted silly and foolish, in the manner of a jester.  

Who did you collaborate with for this project, and how did you select your team?
Doh: Every member of the team was somebody I’d met at previous shoots, and I felt very lucky to once again work with such a talented group of people.

There is a surreal quality to your images, with stark contrasts and stylised motion blur. Can you tell us more about how you achieved these results?
Doh: The idiosyncratic characteristics associated with the jester figure definitely led us to create more surreal and manipulated images. The pronounced contrast between light and colour might represent the strong internal feelings and personal tragedy of Prince Jester. The blurred elements, or movements expressed in the form of blur, might signify the chaotic, dramatic or uncertain relationship between the prince and jester archetypes.
Ji: There is a portrait in which a hand appears from one side of the frame. This was a moment in which our hair stylist, Mark, was fixing the hair piece on our model, Harley. The photo was actually taken as a test shot, but we loved the strange juxtaposition of a random hand and Harley’s blank face. In the end, this image was picked for the final selection, as the unexpected surreality made the story more interesting.

The series consists of a mix between black&white and colour images. Are there instances when you prefer black&white over colour?
Doh: Shooting in black&white opens up new and different ways of telling a story.

Do you work with natural light only, or do you also use flash?
Doh: We used both, as we prefer to mix things up and create various light settings.

What kind of Leica S body and which lenses did you use to shoot your Prince Jester series?
Ji: We mainly worked with the Leica S (007) body, combined with the Summarit-S 70mm, the Elmarit-S 45mm, the Summicron-S 100mm, and the Apo-Macro Summarit-S 120mm.

What did you like about the camera? And on what basis did you choose your lenses?
Doh: Compared to other medium formats I’ve used, the body of the S (007) is solid and compact. The lenses are extremely precise and high-performing, and deliver sharp and strong images. For this series, I mostly used the 45mm and 70mm lenses, though I also loved the 100mm for portraits and the 120mm for close-ups and detail shots.

Do you already have plans for potential future projects?
We’ve got some shoots with artists and musicians coming up this month. Aside from working on various editorials and campaigns, we are also preparing a personal project centred on the theme ‘androgynous’.