Munkowitz has always been drawn to textured silhouettes, color gradients, and sculpting light in volumetric ways –– so as his desire to get into Studio Photography developed, it was only natural he would explore those same principles in the medium. Throughout the photo series, each chapter of the narrative began to take on its own aesthetic, palette, and presence – as though dictating the mood required for the unique role it had to play in our story arc. Drawing inspiration from the portfolio of ultra-talented collaborator James Zwadlo
, who is incredibly skilled at manipulating studio strobes and speedlights, Munkowitz and his team sought to create gradients of light that would contrast with the darkness of the King’s coat and the creamy flesh tones of his Queen. Rivers of smoke and haze were used to build volume and pair with the musky texture of fur and the drama of silhouettes to break up ambient planes. An impressionistic lens lets us into the inner life of this creature, layering meaning and mystery atop the physical form through rich atmospheric symbolism. We see the beast’s moment of discovery –– we meet the girl beneath the fog, latent and waiting – we move through his tender concern – the growing connection – the union – and finally the rebirth of both characters through one another. The way the fog obscures parts of an image while revealing other parts, the wash of light over faces or shadows left unseen, the shapes of bodies, skin, and fur against misty darkness...all elevate the narrative out of time and space itself. Studio strobes yielded clean, dynamic images that seem to freeze motion within the strobes, capturing emotion in the still frames and enabling a simple sequence of stills to tell a clear story.
CHAPTER 1 - THE KING
Chapter One introduces us to a captivating beast, awakening from a deep slumber in a sea of fog. Like a creature that might emerge from the shrouded danger of an ancient wood, he is at once vividly realistic yet cloaked in a touch of the mythical. His thick, expressive muzzle seems to tremble in the enchanted red-pink moonlight. His fur shines bright, silky bristles evoking musk. This, is The Munky King. His form holds the promise of a power and might that we long to see him display. Yet his eyes are downcast, lifeless. His powerful body is deflated, blank, sedated – as though he is under a spell of dormancy that he can’t break.
We see him rumble through volumes of smoke, the fog so thick it seems bewitched. His majestic form evokes awe... but he seems deactivated, dormant, even vulnerable; a shadow of himself. What he is searching for in the fog he doesn’t know. But search he does, nonetheless – for life, for sustenance, for some treasure in the abyss that might ignite his soul.