Once the rioters are in their gear, and we have Adan buckled into his accessories, Arash begins facilitating the collaborative process, “Let’s start here on the corner and work our way up.”
Arash is the perfect balance of intention and spontaneity on set. He and Adan move around each other as if choreographed. “Adan is my favorite photographic collaborator and one of my direct inspirations for starting Justified Hype,” Arash tells me.
“We started on the ground with these upward looking shots – then began moving up the structure, moving up the camera angle as we went, creating this feeling of rising up from the pits of hell. I wanted people to see this series and think, we’ve gone through all of this. Adan did such a great job expressing the ideas we needed – frustration, revolution, emotion, release…”
The creative chemistry is undeniable. The on-set energy is palpable and the mood is relaxed and comfortable even given the subject matter. “I love working with Arash. I can always count on him to go with an unexpected approach. Unexpected has always given me my edge,” Adan discusses his experience on the shoot. “I have always been a little different, a little out of the norm. Not going with the expected is freeing. I never have to feel like a robot, doing what is expected of me.”
Adan talks about finding his creative inspiration, “the creative concept is the platform – that is the foundation and the most crucial part when collaborating and bringing a vision to life. But then we build from there…”
“There’s a stereotypical Pride image of bright and colorful neon, pink flamingos, fruity cocktail drinks, barely there bikinis…But as we were climbing through the shoot, I was glad we were doing this concept instead. Pride as a movement carries an emotional connection for me and the symbolism of the climb wasn’t lost on me.”
“At first, I was skeptical about being in front of the camera, I kept telling myself, no, no you can’t, you do make-up, you are not a model.” Adan confesses his self doubts. “But then I thought, that is what others tell me.”
“When we started the shoot, down on the ground, down in the pits, I admit, I did still feel insecure. As we started climbing, and I started opening myself up to our little creative team and to this process, my confidence began building. By the time we reached the summit, I remembered, after everything I have been through, after everything everyone with a similar experience to mine may have been through, I can take pride in my craft, I can take pride in my identity. Here I am. Here we are.”