Bloodhoney Seance—Talking About the Story: Harun Mehmedinovic
Dalai Lama, when asked what surprises him the most:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Kaitlynn: For those unfamiliar with the Bloodhoney project, could you give an overview of its origins and where it’s going?
Harun: For a long time, I wanted to involve my friends in the films I was making, but it was very hard to do so given that they live across the globe, so I instead settled on a project that was simpler to do: invite them to take a day out of their lives and go take some photos with me at a location of their choosing. Idea was to move from structured to unstructured live, to get them to live in the moment away from their 9-5 existence. Many of my friends who are part of this project are lawyers, architects, doctors, scientists, and they rarely if ever engage in arts or live in the present. Since I started this two years ago, I have done over 300 shoots and many have directly impacted the lives of those who were a part of it, and that return to how they felt during childhood, free and embracing the wonders of the world, proved to be therapeutic.
Kaitlynn: Did you ever expect this project/series to be as successful as it has become? Has this success changed anything about the project for you?
Harun: I never did expect to keep it rolling as long as I have. Two things were fundamental to my decision to keep it going: tangible impact I saw on people involved, and the traction and interest the project got publicly, from Vogue Italia to L.A. Times, and eventually leading to a TED talk about the ideas. If someone told me a year ago this would happen, I would have said: no chance! It has not changed much about the nature of the project, I still aim at creating a space for subjects to express themselves, and these things still go on 10-15 hours in a row at times, and in some cases, even longer. It has been extremely rewarding on many levels.
Kaitlynn: You do some amazing things with light and skyscapes in your work – could you talk about your technical processes a bit?
Harun: I shoot with very wide lenses as to capture people and the environment, especially because they are interacting most of the time. I tend to follow and shoot, always in the moment and on the move, so the backdrop plays an important role. I also don’t shy away from shooting toward the sun and light, which gives the images a bit more of a contrasty, somewhat surreal feel. Most photographers are taught to shoot away from the light, as for everything to be illuminated, but I was thankfully never very good at following instructions, haha. I go where my instincts tell me and I tend to shoot from a low angle, which is something I inherited from cinematography. I started shooting as a cinematographer first, which is a bit of a roundabout way to get to photography, usually the cinematographers start off as photographers. As far as post production goes, I like to expose with highest dynamic range then tend to crunch the clacks and whites, make it contrasty, a bit bleach bypass at times (more of a film reference). I also prefer to shoot on cloudy days when I can, it helps break up the light and since these shoots are always on the move, I can’t really carry lights, flags and bounce boards around trying to deal with direct sunlight. I shoot on the move, it’s hectic but I embrace the moment and don’t worry too much about the photos. I think taking a chance and taking your time always leads to compelling surprises and moments along the way, and if it’s meant to be captured, it will be.
Kaitlynn: Where do you see yourself going with your work from here?
Harun: I would like to present this project in several books which will all take on a different aspect of the project.
Harun Mehmedinovic, a filmmaker by trade, took up photography as a hobby during his road trips across America. Years later, his project Bloodhoney* became one of the most successful Kickstarter photography campaigns of all time. Harun’s photographs have been featured by Vogue Italia and the L.A. Times and have been a subject of a TEDx Talk. Prior to Harun’s venture into photography, his film In the Name of the Son premiered at Telluride Film Festival and won over thirty international awards including Shanghai, Savannah, and Cleveland film festivals. It was the first live action short film to receive an exclusive screening for the members of United States congress on Capitol Hill. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he studied screenwriting and theater directing, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from the American Film Institute.
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