Cirque du Salève

France for me was in many ways like America is to those who move there; a fairytale in which sometimes I’d have to pinch my cheeks to make sure it was real. At school, I met aerialist & acrobat Kaelibeth Rose who was studying French under the same program. Fueled by her attendance to Cirque du Soleil & a mutual childhood dream to run away with the circus, we decided to collaborate on a series of photos with the help of our fellow classmates. Two of our friends, Sarah and Grace, also committed a lot of time into the planning and editing of these images.

Since we lived in Collonges-sous-Salève,  the city under the French Prealp mountain of Salève, the name ‘Cirque du Salève’ seemed perfect for our project. Inspiration came in the form of trips to Geneva and Pinterest pins. If you click on the image below – it will open as a new tab with our full inspiration board.
Initially, after three months of planning the first photo shoot – we just kinda went ahead and did it. After looking at the final image, we realized that our composition game wasn’t at it’s best. Afterward, each individual scene was sketched out and thought out beforehand. Kaelibeth and Sarah researched outfit, makeup and hair possibilities. Some of the outfits were pieced together with the help of classmates who let us borrow stuff while others were lucky finds at Swiss thrift stores.

As far as equipment – we used a camera, tripod and reflector. The images were taken with the intent of using photo manipulation to stitch together the final composition. In theory, this meant capturing the background and models separately. In one case, up to 11 individual images were combined in photoshop for the final product. I usually did special effects and final composition while Grace carefully cut out the characters and made sure they blended in.

It took 6 months to plan and execute the photo shoots. Editing was done within a couple days or weeks except in the case of ‘Tours de Magie’. That one was finalized four years later! Below you will find the images along with a quick note or two on what we learned while doing that specific photo shoot.

L’ami Tzigane
Idea: Kaelibeth Rose, Photo by: Kaelibeth Rose Editing: Jacquie Robinson Set Design: Sarah Herbert Hair,Makeup & Wardrobe: Kaelibeth Rose Additional Assistance Provided by: Josh Tobar Models: Clowns- Maja & Lauren Juggler- Reed Gypsy- JQ

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What we learned:
  • It’s good to figure out composition, angles & points of interest before setting up the photo shoot.
Tours de Magie
Idea: Kaelibeth Rose, Photo & Editing: Jacquie Robinson |Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe: Kaelibeth Rose with help from Sarah Herbert | Models: Magician- Heyli Gomez, Assistant – Colin Pummel, Acrobat – Kaelibeth Rose, Tightrope Walker – Stéphany Fiuza | Special thanks to the others who helped on location with cleanup & shielding models from the sun.

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What we learned:
  • Follow up on location scouting just in case the scenery changes.
  • If at first you don’t succeed with the editing, try again later. I did the final version of this image four years after it was taken.
La Maître de Cirque
Idea: Kaelibeth Rose, Photo by: Jacquie Robinson, Editing: Grace Romstad with the help of Jacquie Robinson, Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe: Kaelibeth Rose, Models: Ring Master- Grace Romstad, Acrobats – Loan Dinh, Michal Herbert & Kaelibeth Rose

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What we learned:
  • Stay organized and keep your photo shoot on point by creating a schedule.
  • Keep emotions at bay when fulfilling your project.
Fierté du Dompteur
Idea: Kaelibeth Rose, Photo by: Jacquie Robinson Editing: Jacquie Robinson with the help of Grace Romstad Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe: Kaelibeth Rose with help from models Models: Fire Breather- Josh Tobar, Lion- Makenzie Jones, Lion Tamer – Avery Botticelli

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What we learned:
  • Take safety seriously.
  • If something isn’t working during the shoot – step it up until it does. Compensating with editing choices is not always worth your time.
– Here they are – all together –

Working on this project was a learning process from start to finish. If you click on the titles, you will see some of the challenges that came up as we worked on each individual composition.  Thankfully, my photography is better because of it. Overall, ‘Cirque du Salève’ was an amazing project to work on and I hope to do more like this in the future.

Social Media:

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 Thanks for the support ❤

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