“working on this series, 15 of us traveled to a new location every day, camping at night. after three weeks we got to this barn in marionville, missouri. I had wanted to shoot with hay for a while, as I have fond memories of Halloween hayrides as a child. I like the saturated colour of hay in photographs: the way it can be gathered easily, yet fill the air wildly.
the bales created a simple graphic background, and we had a gigantic inflatable air mattress, like the ones used by movie stuntmen. safety is always our biggest concern, so we start with low jumps and gradually get higher. public nudity is illegal in most places, so we have lookouts with walkie-talkies to let us know if there is a problem.
the model, amanda, emailed me through my website. I rarely cast anyone this way, but I’m glad I did because she is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. some people fall like a ton of bricks but she fell like a feather, gracefully and slow. in this picture she is doing a flip and my assistants are throwing handfuls of hay simultaneously, with a fan blowing. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz – but my own version, where Dorothy gets her clothes ripped off in the twister.
Falling is a movement that endlessly fascinates me. I guess this action traces back to activities from my youth: skateboarding or diving from stages or into pools. I want to capture the feeling of weightlessness I would get jumping from a speaker and landing in a crowd, or flipping backwards off a diving board.
I love Amanda’s face in this photo: she looks like she’s in a trance within the chaos of the hay. I shot for about four hours, rotating models. I never know who is going to end up in the final shot, or if there will even be a successful image. I guess that’s the fun part for me: finding the moment where everything lines up. Not knowing what’s going to come back is like a present: it’s the poetry of chaos.”