One day I received a phone call. I was asked to photograph a group of unique characters. A couple of weeks later we all went to the cliffs of Eastbourne in the middle of the night.
I asked Julie to describe what she experienced during that memorable night.
This is what she wrote:
Waiting was difficult, but getting to know each other during the boredom was a buzz. When I was fed up, getting off the coach and strolling around, in the middle of the night, on the cliffs of Eastbourne it all felt very safe and liberating.
The natural night of White Rabbit was rousing the silly, naughty and excited juveniles in us. Before long, we were transformed into eccentric, brazen and wayward faction of bohemia. White Rabbit was twenty-four hours of mixed, extreme emotions. Intensely vivid were those of getting to know each other. Long hours of waiting had magnificent benefits. Naughtiness crept in. Being dressed as an intoxicating, curious model from the 19th century was a way of releasing another persona. My Cain was utilized to it's full potential. White Rabbit herself wanted the policeman's truncheon. The Police stopped to check out our activities. They left laughing with bewilderment. We were only an unconventional bunch of artists roaming around the Sussex countryside in November being photographed. The natural, invigorating evening of White Rabbit was intensely enjoyable. Winding up naked in the countryside was even more liberating.
And the memories … well, they are always pleasing.
A poem from the night in question:
Oh moonlight sky,
I love your moonlit eyes gazing down over us.
And the cold and mild sea breeze,
What an impish Autumn tease?
With space vast in heaven at last.
Out of our city, into our country and seaside pretty
It makes you want to be alive and wild.
Scream like a banshee even if you're a he
Then the inner child jumped out
Wanting to climb to the top of every mount and shout.
Some of us were curious to look over the edge
Nerves jangled and some were scared to death
In the old days they endured tall feats
Dressed like a Dickens character,
and letting go of anxieties.
Oh moonlight sky,
I love your calming light over our uncertainties.
Exclusive Magazine article in English:
Luna-graphy is an art which combines painting and photography. The images are created at night and only by the light of the full moon, which happens 3 or 4 days in a month. The sky cannot be cloudy and there cannot be any artificial light sources. The artist who created luna-graphy is a Polish photographer Adam Lach.
How did you get the idea to take pictures by the moonlight?
It was a coincidence. Five years ago I spent the New Year's Eve with some friends in Krynica Morska by the coast. The party, which took place in a small tavern, was pretty boring so I decided to go for a walk along a seashore with my wife. I was playing with my camera and took some pictures with a high sensitivity only by the moonlight: a few portraits of my wife, some landscapes. The images were taken by hand, without a tripod. It turned out you could see much more on these images than in reality. Even the light captured on them was amazing, truly magical.
Images can only come to life during these 3 or 4 days a month when the moonlight is
strong enough. So that first session happened exactly during the full moon?
Yes, it happened to be a full moon then. Afterwards I began to think more about it. I started working on improving the quality of the images. Photography is like maths, some things depend on one another. I started experimenting, playing with these rules. Initially the project was called “The 30 Seconds’ Exposure” as that is exactly how long the shutter is open. Later I came up with the name “luna-graphy”.
Can you actually see something when you are taking photos or is it completely dark?
I can see shapes or silhouettes of things but not the details like for example if the model is looking at the camera. I can smell some scents, hear some sounds and glimpse some movements. The idea is not to control everything which is within the camera’s scope.
Does it mean the images are only a result of a coincidence?
I choose the setting and set the camera. I have a vision of what might happen. I talk to the model about the luna-graph we are about to create. I explain the boundaries and the rules and leave the rest to him or her. The choreography is not decided before, the models may dance, walk or even disappear from the scope of the camera. I do not interfere with this. The time set for each image is thirty seconds. The model’s movements are saved in a very particular way. I would say it is like painting with a camera.
You do not say “to take photos” but “to create luna-graphs”. What is the difference between luna-graphy and the traditional photography?
It is all a kind of game with reality. Photography is usually quite realistic. It is difficult to invent alternative stories about photographs. A photographer is capturing the reality as it is seen by him. He shows the reality as it is, even though it has been filtered through his emotions. Luna-graphy on the other hand is a next step forward as it allows to somehow create the reality. It is an art which combines both photography and painting.
You have photographed some Butoh dancers (a Japanese contemporary dance - ed.)
in India. How did this happen?
One of the dancers, Jean Daniel Fricker, came once to my studio in London with a friend of mine. He stayed one hour and during this time he did not say anything. He was simply observing. When he was leaving, he said that he had been touched by one of my photos - a portrait of a woman which hanged on my wall. He asked if I could send it to him. I usually do not do this but this time I felt it could lead to something in the future so I sent him the photo. After two years I received an e-mail from him from India where he was finalising on a new project. He suggested I should come to India and work with him and his group of dancers. I planned my trip so that I would be there during a full moon. In India I explored the area and chose settings for the dancers to perform at night. We did some tests and I finally asked them to dance naked. The colour of their skin was similar to the colour of the Indian stones so it was easy to create some unrealistic ghosts on the images. Some time later we also worked together in Cambodia, in Angkor Wat. Some kid spied on us, the local police came and cancelled the images. They claimed we had offended their sanctity.
Is it easier to create luna-graphs in exotic landscapes?
Not necessarily. I have also created luna-graphs in Poland or in the UK. The sky in Asia is usually cloudless and the moon and the stars are clearly visible. On the other hand you can do a lot of fascinating things even if they are clouds on the sky. They are interesting because they shift colours and make the moonlight less intensive. I have done for example a fashion editorial on a beach in Leba, in Poland.
And in the English countryside?
This was a rather special project. I photographed people with mental health problems. It was a shooting for a calendar which was commissioned by a charity which helped these people. We hired a coach and drove to the Seven Sisters Cliffs near Eastbourne. This place is very popular among those who want to commit suicide. It in the middle of November, so it was quite cold. Obviously, it was a full moon. The clothes came from a young designer who owns a shop called Prangsta in New Cross in London. Strange things happened there. One of the girls was very brave. She undressed herself and provoked the others to follow her example. Somebody bought some alcohol. Suddenly there was a naked party going on in the coach.
Has nobody had the idea to take photos by the moonlight before?
It is true that people put a camera on a tripod and take photographs of landscapes at night, but nobody has decided to record movement. I think it was simply impossible before the digital photography was invented. The process of developing a negative usually takes a couple of days so the photographer would have to wait quite long to see the picture. When you take pictures with a digital camera you can see the result immediately. You can have access to the image you have just created. In this way you know directly if the image is good or if it requires more work.