Photo: Aleksandrs Sokolovs
For the last fifteen years, airBaltic has steadily expanded its network of international destinations. The airline’s flight routes now extend throughout Europe, and in recent years the routes have reached farther south and east. These routes not only help transport passengers to their destinations, they also bring together various geographic regions and their distinct cultures. In this way, the airline is helping to promote the cultural cohesion that is so important in today’s globalized world.
This cultural cohesion is wonderfully exemplified in airBaltic’s new wall calendar for 2011. Each page of the beautifully designed calendar features a photograph of an up-and-coming athlete or musician from twelve countries in the airBaltic network. The celebrities also represent a variety of different athletic and artistic fields—from pop singers and jazz musicians to football players and professional boxers. These rising stars have already achieved fame in their home countries, but are now working on making a name for themselves internationally.
By featuring these rising stars in its annual calendar, airBaltic is helping to promote them on an international scale. The company also helps them move forward in a literal sense: each of the athletes and musicians relies on airBaltic to travel to and from competitions, concerts, and matches in other countries. But more than anything, by introducing its passengers to the sheer variety of talented individuals who hail from the airline’s destinations, airBaltic is working to promote intercultural exchange, making its calendar a unique gathering of nations, with the artists and athletes serving as the airBaltic network’s cultural ambassadors.
Of course, the calendar isn’t all just about cultural exchange and international cooperation. The calendar is also a stylish work of art, featuring chic photography and eye-popping design. Each of the twelve “models” is photographed wearing airBaltic’s iconic blue uniforms. The men are clad in pilot’s suits, complete with peaked caps and bright green ties, and the women are elegantly dressed in cabin crew uniforms—tailored skirts and blouses. Of course, the subjects of the photographs are musicians and athletes, not pilots and cabin attendants, so each of them has put his or her own spin on the familiar uniforms—a casually knotted tie or a coquettishly unbuttoned shirt.
The photographs also feature distinctive backgrounds for this motley crew of high-flying stars: airBaltic’s fleet of planes, slickly shot on the runway at Riga International Airport and digitally edited into the picture. Looking at the twelve images in the calendar, one can see that the airplanes in the background are just as enchanting as the models posing in the foreground. Glistening in the sunlight, the aircraft are strikingly beautiful, full of curving lines and aerodynamically precise shapes. The shiny surfaces of the planes reflect the lights and clouds peeking out from the sky in the rear of the image, a rich space of deep blues and fluffy whites, drawing our eye further and further into the picture.
The new 2011 calendars are available at ticket offices, airBalticShop, as well as at travel agencies. The airline’s partners and VIP Baltic Miles members will also receive the calendar, which will surely brighten up any wall with its colorful design and marvelous photography. Throughout the year, pay close attention to the faces on your calendar; who knows, maybe the twelve up-and-coming athletes and musicians will become international stars in 2012? If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see them on an airBaltic flight, enroute to a concert or match. In the world of aviation, anything is possible. The sky’s the limit.
Wingtips had the exclusive chance to interview the creator of the 2011 airBaltic calendar, Latvian photographer Aleksandrs Sokolovs. He answered a few of our questions about the creation of this visually and conceptually distinctive wall calendar.
What was the visual concept for the calendar, and what was your assignment as an artist?
The concept was this: Each page would depict a popular person from the countries in the airBaltic network. Every photograph had to look like a poster, where the central element was the person him or herself
Where were the subjects photographed, and in what conditions?
I have my own unique technology. I photograph subjects in my studio, in front of a unicolored backdrop, so that afterward I can cut out the picture and place it on absolutely any background. This technology is very popular in the movie industry. Models feel much better in the studio—it’s comfortable and warm, and there’s no wind or snow. That’s why photo session in the studio are much more enjoyable than session outdoors. You can read more about my technology on my website, www.sokolovstudio.com.
Where did you photograph the backgrounds for these particular photographs? Did you employ any special techniques to photograph the planes?
We had four big photo session at Riga International Airport. One was in the winter, when there was an incredible amount of snow and it was unbelievably cold; and the rest of the photo session were held in the summer. Airplanes aren’t the easiest objects to photograph. They are enormous, and can’t be easily maneuvered or positioned in the way I need to get a good shot. Plus, there are very serious restriction in the airport territory—you can’t walk around anywhere you like. During the four session, we took approximately 5,000 pictures of the planes.
What is the difference between taking pictures of people and photographing people—both technically and conceptually?
The difference is very essential: It’s very difficult to photograph airplanes in the studio!
Were there any interesting occurrences during the photo session, like a particularly funny moment?
We photographed almost all the subject at my studio on Lāčplēša iela [in Riga], but there were a few subjects that we needed to photograph in their home countries. We traveled to Moscow, Helsinki, and Oslo. The trip to Moscow was the craziest! We spent two days there, but that was enough to help me understand that we live in a very good and very tranquil country!
We had an interesting photo session with the woman from Israel, Hagar Finer. She is a world champion in professional boxing. I was very careful with my compliments. I worried about saying something wrong, which could have ended painfully!
How were the photographs digitally processed to create the final version?
We used rather complex technologies to merge the subjects with the backgrounds. It’s important for both the background and the subjects to look unified and harmonious. We also have a few unique technical secrets that help us assembled these edited images.
But overall, I am very pleased and proud to have been entrusted with the honor of creating airBaltic’s 2011 wall calendar!