​The making of a One Man Orchestra

It took violinist and photographer Aleksandre Khatiskatisi five hours of photography and considerably more editing to transform his colleague Heming Valebjørg into a one-man orchestra.

Written by Fred-Olav Vatne

Percussionist Heming Valebjørg is everywhere in Alexander Light's picture "One Man Orchestra". You'll find a link to a larger version in the article.

Aleksandre Khatiskatsi, also using artist name Alexander Light, plays violin in the Oslo Philharmonic. Next season he is also soloist with the orchestra in a new violin concerto by Henning Sommero, combining music with his other big passion: photography. Pictures he has taken in his native Georgia will be projected alongside the music.

His interest in photography took off when Aleksandre moved to Norway and suddenly had more spare time than he was used to. He began to read widely and thoroughly about photography and took pictures for fun. He was so excited about the topic that he spent the next four years intensely studying all the books he could find on photo technique and photographic art. He eventually began publishing pictures on his own website.

Inspired by German photo artist

Just two years ago he discovered that he virtually had photography in his blood: Both his grandfather and great-grandfather had in fact been professional photographers, without Aleksandre being aware of it.

− I knew my grandfather was a tourist guide and that he took pictures, he says.

− But it turned out that he had a private photo studio and was the only photographer in the village where he lived, and took portraits. I was really sad when I heard that my family had sold his main camera many years ago.

The idea for his biggest photo project "One Man Orchestra" started evolving when he saw pictures by the German photo artist Martin Liebscher during a tour in Japan. His trademark is to manipulate himself into images − often hundreds of times in photos of large audiences in beautiful concert halls.

− I was inspired by his ideas and asked myself the question: What can I do better? First and foremost I aimed to create an image that would look natural at first glance, not "photoshopped". No one should be surprised before they started looking at all the faces.

See larger version of image: One Man Orchestra

999 pictures from Oslo Concert Hall

Aleksandre decided to create an image where an entire symphony orchestra is manned by a single musician in every position. He brought in his colleague and percussionist Heming Valebjørg in the Oslo Philharmonic as a model.

− I found no one that had done exactly this before, and thus had no examples to study. So I spent two months on preparation and found, among other things, the right tripod type to use and the optimal position in the concert hall.

The photographic work took five hours, and he took 999 images altogether − 900 of the background and 99 of Heming Valebjørg. But the most demanding job remained:

− I spent at least fifty hours in total putting the pieces together in Photoshop, over a period of seven months. I worked only with the manual tools in Photoshop, no automatic aids.

The finished work was rewarded with accolades on photo sites Petapixel and DP Review. And he is satisfied with the result:

− It looks normal and natural, not artistic or strange. I achieved what was the intention of the picture, and that I am proud of.