Mickael Jou made my day with a series of self-made ballet shots.
The Berlin-based photographer-slash-dancer selects urban locations to do a kind of self portrait that I have never seen before. Everything in these compositions is plain fresh and awesome, from the locations to frames to colors and lights. So I reached out to find out more about this guy who would have made for a great cast for The Matrix.
This being a continuous project I was curious to learn how much time it takes Mickael to complete a shoot. “I can create about one photo a week”, he tells me, “taking a picture – finding a location, motivating myself to go, taking the picture and retouching – takes about 10 hours. So it’s a matter of finding 10 hours every week to do that. The shoot can take anywhere from five minutes to 60 minutes. Five minutes is usually when the sun is moving, or I have no time – like I’m late to do something else, etc. But I usually like to take my time with my pictures. I’d say that 25 minutes for a picture is average. This means when I’ve already found a suitable location. But finding a suitable location can take up to two hours of just walking around…”
Wow. Not nearly as much as I would have assumed…
If he gets strange looks from people when jumping for the 48th time in front of the supermarket fridge I wanna know. “I get awkward looks from people all the time when taking pictures”, Mickael replies, “but I had already danced in the street, so I’m used to people looking at me like I’m crazy. I guess that’s just part of life?”
Everything you see in Mickael Jou’s ballet shots is real and self-made.
I was pretty impressed to re-confirm everything you see in these pictures is done by the artist himself with no helping hands. Shots are taken with a tripod camera mount. His photography skills are 100% self-taught. “Just bought a camera and read the instruction manual”, Mickael shrugs. Ummmmm, yes.
What blew me away completely was to find out these shots are done without any mechanical devices or post-production magic. “I just jump,” Mickael told me upon my inquiry, “I have never used any sort of mechanical help. I just have really strong legs and very good control of my face. If you are familiar with weightlifting, I can squat 120kg (and I weigh 65kg…), so almost twice my body weight.”
The only thing done in post-production is some color and light adjustment. Which is done by…? Yes.
Mickael Jou’s dancing career is surprisingly minimalistic.
It was also interesting to learn that Mickael’s dance background is quite autodidactic. I would have assumed to find somebody with the schedule of a full professional. Still, Mickael spent more time with dancing than the average person in an entire life time.
“I have a very minimalistic dance background”, Mickael says, “I started dancing at the age of 18 – very late for a dancer. Before that I was a cross-country runner. In my entire life, I’ve taken about 6 months of ballet, 9 months of modern dance, 3 months of tai-chi and 6 weeks of bellydancing. And that’s my ‘dance education’. I have just been training by myself for the past 8 years.”
Mickael Jou lives and works in Berlin.
His photography is currently being exhibited in Berlin in the Mokkabar (Gneisenaustraße 93).
Visit Mickael Jou’s website HERE.
Witness Mickael Jou’s Gravity-defying ballet self portraits.
All images copyright of the artist.
For more gravity-defying choreography check this underwater ballet.