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The Moonlight Sonata


Dating back to the early 1800s, Moonlight Sonata is a classical piece of music that was composed by the late Ludwig Van Beethoven - a work of art that was known to be inspired by the simplicity of a moon shining over a boat on a still sombre lake called Lucerne, in a quaint little town in Switzerland. In this concept shoot, the colors, tone, post & the flow of the photograph were deeply inspired by this timeless tune.


A creative project as such can have various starting points, however, the conceptualization of this photo was done in a rather non-conventional manner where the elegance of the dress was used as the focal point to begin. The luminescent pearl white wash of the dress evoked a purity that forced the project to portray an opulent tone that would rightly represent the brand and its products. The smooth silky presence of the dress' material instantaneously paints an image of a bright moon - the shoot elicited multiple wonderings, the most influential one being the importance of a moon's ability to shine even on the darkest of nights. This directly led to the choice of using low-key lighting to dramatize the effects of nightfall. 


Adhering not just to the element of darkness, but to really capture the essence of nighttime guided the incorporation of blue tones in the shots to some capacity. More often than not, blue is often regarded as a color of the night in the world of cinema when showcasing the moon or focusing on scenes that are lit by the moon - when clubbed together with dramatic contrasting light.
It is usually used in scenes that are documented out in the open in the middle of the night. It seemed only natural then, that the lighting through a blue colored gel was planned as a fundamental element of the overall photo story - a heavy color grade did not seem to be the right direction in meeting the client's focus on tones and color to match the glimmer of the dress. 

Diving into the little significant details, the direction of hair & makeup was straightforward - capturing the simplicity of a goddess, the model encompassed an effortless and glowing look to match the portrayal. Another key element that contributed to the overall effect of the shoot was the sofa positioned behind the model - a velvet comforter that was toned in post-production to add to the scene that was an ode to the boat from the original Moonlight Sonata. The studio location comprised of a large wall mirror on the side that really contributed in bouncing the light in many different directions that added to the overall ambience. The nitty-gritty included lighting the subject up using an 80cm octabox (which served as a key light), a 45cm blue colored gel octabox was also placed to the opposite end to accent the model with blue hues, and finally another 45cm octabox was placed behind the camera to enhance the blueness of the shot. 


The very final element of the set design, that significantly contributed to the overall composition, was a strip mirror with an artistically designed frame that. gave it the very soul of luxury - placed to the side, the mirror represented the concept of the reflections one would see on a watery body, whilst on a boat, in the middle of the night. And hence... the Moonlight Sonata came into existence. 

Rahim Mahtab is a Dubai-based fashion & lifestyle photographer whose work revolves around the use of color science as a means to depict art and evoke emotion in the eye of the observer. Ascending further than just an artistic POV, Rahim also focuses on using his past experiences as a scientist to bring together the elements of science & technology through beauty. Perhaps amongst all other creative avenues, music is the one that he resonates the most with, and has in turn been one the most important driving forces in his perception of life - therefore, leading to the conceptualization of this shoot.  

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