The Five of Staves is perhaps my favorite of the staves so far, and maybe even of the whole deck.
The Five of Staves is traditionally five persons with sticks engaged in combat; it depends on the depiction whether this combat is perceived as friendly practice, a striving competition, or a pitched battle.
To both Stephanie and myself, it made sense for this to be a friendly battle. The wands are the passion of the moment, the high spirits and exuberant energy of comradely jousting. (Ok, yes, the later wands are less so, but overall.)
So we rounded up four friends and five boffers, and headed out to the park. The park we’ve been using for a lot of these shots (and used again for the Sevens) is Cesar Chavez Park, in West Berkeley. It’s a fairly large park, bounded on three sides by the Bay, and with some hills, some trees, some bushes, some sand. It’s got a surprisingly varied landscape for not too huge an area, and is also less than a mile from my house, and thus has come in quite handy.
This was a card that I had some very specific ideas about shooting; I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to shoot from underneath, to capture the staffs against the sky. I knew I wanted a lot of tight action shots; less focus on Stephanie and the other people involved, and more on the anonymity that comes in the heated moment. You are simply Yourself, and the other person is simply Other, and all other details are lost.
Several of us semi-regularly go out and beat each other with padded sticks, so rounding up equipment was easy enough. I lay on my back and swore left, right, and sideways that I would not take any photos up kilts, and then we began.
It being March in the Bay Area, it was, of course, absolutely freezing. Everyone was very brave, and battled it out to the bitter (cold) end. I kept trying to tell everyone that this was how we knew we were making art, because we were suffering, but they didn’t seem to buy it.
Some of it was challenging- when I’m flat on my back, I can’t get any further away in order to fit everything in the frame; it has to be done by the models going on tip-toe and leaning in. The star in particular caused a lot of moments involving comments like “Wait, we’re all adults with higher education- we have GOT to be able to figure this out. Now, you take that end, no, that other one there… ok. Now, you take this one…”
All of our extras were so awesome- Jack, Pixie, Firefly, and Kyle. Jack in particular really assisted in guiding everyone into poses while I was busy shooting, and with helping me to conceptualize some more effective action shots. It was such a pleasure to work with all of them, and I think the pictures really capture both the joyful competitive nature of the card, and the amount of fun we were all having.
It was an epic photoshoot that produced the most edited photos to date by far (though the sevens will give the fives a run for their money). I’m delighted with how they all turned out. Everyone was so fierce, and the poses were so dynamic. Even editing them was fun.