Hi Marisa & Jesse, thanks in advance for your cooperation and the great pictures you made, I absolutely love them. Jesse:"Hi ***, Thankyou very much & no problem in answering these questions." Marisa: "Hello again:)" I've seen that you've used the shots of Marisa in Egypt and Ethiopia on your ENKI brand website. My apologies if some of the questions might seem a bit straightforward, but I want to have the story behind it completely right and I don't know the exact history. 1) Can you explain what your relation to ENKI is/what your exact role in it is. You started the business yourself? You are only doing the marketing/photography to showcase the eyewear? Jesse: "I’m the owner and creative director of ENKI. I do all visuals for the label, like photography, web & campaign concepts etc. I started ENKI about ten years ago by myself in Australia but now run it out of beautiful Bali. To answer your second question. No, I don’t just do marketing and photography to market ENKI. It’s never been about money or selling sunglasses, but It always has been about creating something amazingly different and showing the world the beautiful and fascinating people I shoot. I feel like I’m more so marketing my subjects and their stories rather than ENKI’s. I didn’t make money for the first eight years of the brand's ten-year history. I funded all of the campaigns myself just because I was so obsessed with creating beautiful photos." 2) What is for you the connection between handcrafted ENKI eyewear and the pictures you make in the photography campaigns? What are you looking for in a model and in a setting/location? Jesse: "If it’s a conceptual ENKI campaign, I’ll go to where I feel naturally drawn, and that’s mostly to the ancient places and cultures of the world. I love to shoot real people who then become the models, whether that’s the Tribes of Africa or the Gondoliers of Italy. To me this is real beauty, nothing is purer. I feel people can be triggered in a very positive way seeing these kinds of people in shoots. " 3) I've seen both pictures in your campaigns which can be described as more traditional (models in swimwear, Venice gondeliers) compared to the nude shots of Marisa. What sets Marisa (and the photos you took of her) apart from the other ones? Jesse: "What sets Marisa apart is her unique look and message to the world of self-empowerment and freedom, it’s something I promote through ENKI as well, and I truly believe this message is what the world needs right now. Fortunately, fate crossed our paths so we can both bring about this message together. She is also the only woman brave enough to stand with me and do these shoots. What sets these shoots apart is they have never been done before and will never probably be never done again, at least in our lifetimes and in a world where everything has been done so much its numbing. I like to think that’s very special." 1. I absolutely love the stunning picture at the mosque as the composition and lights are just perfect – which might be a bit odd as it looks like it took some time posing for the right picture, but I assume of course that given the crowds the picture had to be made in a split second.For Jesse, can you describe more of the challenges as a photographer making this picture and how the moment went? And also in general how working with Marisa is in such a challenging environment? As it's a far cry from quietly taking a nude snap at a beach for a shoot for a magazine or so! Jesse: "If you’ve ever been to the Sophia Hagia, you'll know there’s never a day without 1000’s of people being in there at all times. It was all done very spontaneously. Inside the mosque, we were hidden in plain sight. There is also a serene calmness inside which helped allow everything to unfold the way that is was supposed to. We even went back for a second time the next day because we weren't happy with the first lot of shots. However, I didn’t feel like this was that challenging compared to the rooftop shot overlooking the Mosque ( attached ) For that shot to happen a lot of planning and coordinating went into it. Luckily we have some excellent connections in Istanbul, without these, it most definitely wouldn’t have been possible." Marisa, the picture which you sent me, was it taken during the first shoot or the second at Hagia Sophia? This was the second take. Marisa: "We decided not to use any photos of the first attempt. " 2. Question to both Marisa and Jesse. Marisa, you describe Jesse and yourself as the “modern-day Bonnie and Clyde”. How does it feel to be constantly on guard? To deal with the excitement and possible fears of landing in trouble? Is it something that only gives you energy, or at times is also draining? Marisa: "Of course it’s draining. The focus that goes into these kind of adventures is insane. You give so much of yourself. It’s only when you get back home (read another place) that you realize how much energy it took to go through all the hassle... As for during the trip, all the escalades and struggles give me loads of energy. There’s this mindset of nothing willing to take no for an answer, almost like kids. We push each other a lot. " Jesse: "Actually, we both describe ourselves as Bonny & Clyde. It can be extremely testing mentally, physically and also very much so between us. But It’s always a real adventure with Marisa sort of like a vintage James bond film which makes it a lot of fun too. When we get the shots, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world but like Marisa said you don’t realise at the time because you're on autopilot, It’s not until you leave that you understand what you’ve put yourself through. I remember sitting in the airport at Doha after Egypt and having my first beer in years. It was a very surreal moment reflecting on what had just taken place." 3. Question to both Marisa and Jesse.Perhaps more than in Egypt, Turkey has recently been quite a lot in the news when it comes to jailing (innocent) people just because the government thinks they are a danger to the country. These also include foreign nationals such as a German journalist, an American preacher and German and Turkish Amnesty International workers being jailed for many months without fair trial, on what many say are pumped up charges.Did you have any fears of ending up in a similar situation before the trip? Or did you ever have second thoughts during the trip that this might be a bit too dangerous? Marisa: "I don’t follow the news, and I know Jesse doesn’t do so either. I guess in a way this plays in our advantage. If you do these kind of things, there can not even be 1% of your mind resisting. You have to go full in. No doubt. Sometimes obviously it happens, it happened to me when we were about to go in the mosque the second time but then you have someone by your side (Jesse) who pulls you through. Sometimes it goes the other way around. It’s teamwork. " Jesse: "Personally speaking, I have always had a strange love of fear and I feel comfortable being close to danger, so I like to walk that path when doing these shoots. I also do believe that going in with the right intent will allow us to always be okay. However, some things are just not meant to be. We did travel to an incredible ancient location that’s is very unstable politically, we tried to shoot for days, but we soon realised there was no way we were going to be able to do it. I firmly believe that we weren't supposed to do that shoot because of the real dangers involved. It was tough to pull away and leave, but in the end, we knew we had to. After hearing about what's been happening recently in Turkey, I’m reminded that I feel it wasn’t meant to be." 4. To Marisa, I quote: “At one point the police had come to our hotel in Istanbul interrogating the staffabout our location just a day after we had left.”Was your next destination given away? Did you feel from that moment as being followed/chased down by the authorities, as obviously at that moment they would have had your name? Marisa:"We did feel being chased. We talked to some people to give us access to certain places we wanted to shoot at. It’s always tricky to trust people you have no clue about who they are but it’s the risk we have to take." 5. To Marisa again,I quote: “At a location, we can't disclose we tried to shoot for three days straight. On the third day they had hired extra security. Literally all the peaks of the hills were covered with armed men.”Those security guards/armed officers were hired/dispatched there just because they knew that you and Jesse were in the area? Did any of the people there – including the man that followed you without saying much – say anything in the end why you had to leave? Marisa: "They were already there. The first day we went to the location we checked it out, looked at the options, what time of the day we should go, which angles we would shoot from. etc. Because it was out of the season when we travelled to Turkey there weren’t too many tourists so the second day that we went, they recognized us straight away. I think the authorities knew we were in town since we took a plane there. They wouldn’t move away from us. We never had the chance to realize any of the shots we had in mind. He said multiple times we had to leave or we would get into a lot of trouble, obviously we wouldn’t listen. We had come so far already. So we went back the third day. And indeed that day, as soon as we arrived to the location the guy pointed with his 2 fingers to his eyes and pointed out the other armed men on the peaks of the hills. It was like a movie scene sort off. Jesse took his camera and snapped an image of one of the guys to see if they were carrying guns. They were. Serious ones. After 5/6 hours of persistence we left." 6. To both Marisa and Jesse, you didn't had any problems exiting the country? Do you think you will be able to come back to Turkey after this, and would you be willing to do? (as you also described the hospitality of the people and fantastic sights in the country) Marisa: "Probably not. It’s a shame, but it’s the price we have to pay I guess." Jesse: "I really hope not but it will be interesting seeing how it all plays out that’s for sure." 7. To both Marisa and Jesse, especially many people in urban centres and on the coast in Turkey argue that the country has become more illiberal under Erdogan, with personal freedom being infringed or limited. Did it play a role in choosing Turkey as a country for this adventure? If not, why Turkey? Marisa: "Jesse chose the country of destination. And in particular to shoot at the place we did not shoot in the end (question 5) So after this didn’t work out, we had to get creative and travel to other sites where we could create a possible story." Jesse: "There’s an incredible ancient site in Turkey that I had based the whole campaign concept around. I had spent months and months visualizing it. I had even drawn out all the frames I was going to shoot of Marisa. However, we had no idea how dangerous and politically unstable it was going to be. It was empty when we arrived but heavily secured which added to the frustration of not being able to shoot there. After three days and three attempts we surrendered to the fact that we weren't going to able to do it, I went numb, and instantly went into a massive creative block, luckily Marisa stepped up, pulled us through and created the majority of the frames of the campaign. She’s amazing like that, very talented and hardworking." 8. Marisa, What are your own opinions on the current state of affairs in Turkey when it comes to this issue? Did the local people you met along the way perhaps encouraged you, felt emboldened (as it is easier to try this as a foreigner than as a Turkish citizen given possible repercussions) or did they try to warn you and talk you out of such things given the current state of politics? Marisa: "Especially the people we met in Istanbul seemed super scared of what’s about to come. Frightened even. They were warning us about how serious and rapidly things are changing and that what we were doing could get us into even more trouble then what happened in Egypt. In a way they tried to talk us out of it but on the other hand they were applauding our actions." 9. Marisa, are you afraid of another shit storm so to say for posing like this in a mosque, and offending sensitivities of Muslims? Marisa: "Not afraid at all. The universe has got my back." 10. What would you say to critics who ask why you can't pose nude instead in another place and have to do this in a mosque? Marisa: "Like I said many times before, how can a body, created by God be offensive?" 11. How were the reactions in the weeks/months following your Jerusalem photoshoot? As also there you got quite some angry replies (and encouraging support as well!) after posing on a rooftop in front of the Wailing Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque. That didn't deter you from doing it again? Marisa: "The shoot in Jerusalem was a few months after the Turkey trip. But no, I’m not thinking about stopping just yet ;) The reactions were intense, and it’s normal, it’s a big barrier we have to break. I am aware that it’s going to take more then a few years to change our perception. Probably I won’t even be on this planet anymore before anything is changing in the direction of personal freedom. But with this life that has been given to me, I’m willing to risk everything to help to create this shift this planet desperately needs."