Tarot: Death and the Emperor

With 2017 declared as the ‘year of photography’, I decided to challenge myself and start a new project. It would give my work some much-needed focus and perhaps even give myself an excuse to actually do some work!

The theme I landed on was ‘Tarot’ – I could not tell you how I thought of it, but it just clicked one day, riding the subway home. It is a subject that has always had my interest and it would require thought, planning, models and a semi-streamlined vision to bring something new to the card images. The main goal being: to produce a body of work with some coherence whilst practicing my technical abilities. And to create a few kick-ass images along the way obviously! There will be 22 opportunities to do so while working on the major arcana, then a further 16 for the minor arcana – and then there are the suit cards (lower numbers).

Let’s see how far we’ll get within a year, shall we?

I posted a casting call on Model Mayhem and got a lot of initial interest. Mostly from the guys! As the weather did not warm up until April, I had to wait a while before getting stuck in.

The first shoot would be with Mark (ModelTO, Model Mayhem #3385858) who would model for my Death card. Mark’s only stipulation for any shoot is that his face cannot be shown. No Problem! There were a few small technical hiccups – I had lines going through all of my plates. They are not terrible, but mildly bothersome. I later found out that these were caused by putting the freshly poured plate into my silver bath too quickly – a problem I had never *ever* had before moving to Canada!

Death: card number 13

Giving all that is superficial and concentrating on what is basic, fundamental and truly important. An End. Symbol for beginnings, endings, change, transformation or transition. The flip side: resistance to change, being unable to move on.

We went with a fairly traditional ‘hangman’ look, and an ‘angelic’ one for the 3rd image.


 I personally really like the last image as it is more original than the other two – even though I like those as well. Mark had a tough time sitting still for that particular image as the temperatures were still not that high (around 10 -12 degrees Celcius) and he was barely clad in the shade! We may have to arrange for another shoot at some point and re-take that image.
The second shoot would be with Craig (Craigtwo, Model Mayhem #3302539), who I cast as the Emperor. Craig has an amazing strong look to him, and I feel we put that to good use in a strong persona. The dreaded lines did show up a few times during this shoot, but overall it was camera angles and movement / suggestion of movement that proved most challenging in this shoot.
The Emperor: card number 4
A symbol of Mars, sterility of regulation and unyielding power. The top of the secular hierarchy, the ultimate male ego, the absolute ruler of the world. Symbol for authority, father-figure, structure and a solid foundation. The flip side: domination, excessive control, rigidity and inflexibility.
We decided on a modern take of the ruler: the business man in suit and put emphasis on the flip-side of the card.
The emperor tarot shootThe emperor tarot shootThe emperor tarot shoot