I don’t know if this a particularly happy day, but I do know it’s Orange Wednesdays at the cinema which therefore makes it a happy day for me. But before I zoom off to watch Maleficent – SO EXCITED – here is a back stage blog on my latest shoot – A Being of All Sorts.
So, this crazy shoot started with my sister, Michelle Blacker who is a Make Up Artist & Body Painter. Her idea was to simply paint our model Brittany Atkins, using an array of paints and sweets! For some odd, and frankly unexplained reason, my brain conjured up the idea of two small creatures made entirely of sweets to accompany our model. The story would go that these creatures would be the architects of the photograph’s subject, Brittany.
On the day of the shoot, with the willingness and patience of our model, the make up process began.
Because this shoot is largely focused on the models make up, I will let my sister explain the process to all you budding make up artists, or to those of you who may be interested in how on earth this creation came to be.
Michelle Blacker MUA
” Okay, let’s get started.
In order to create this Being of All Sorts, I firstly began by covering Brittany’s hair with clingfilm, primarily to give myself a base to glue the licorice Catherine wheels to, but also to protect Brittany’s hair from the glue. Initially I used a bald cap, but it just didn’t hold as well as the clingfilm. In order to glue the licorice to the cling film, I used liquid latex, although in some cases spirit gum was needed. Liquid latex is great to use on skin and super strong. However, if using it on a model for the first time, a skin test is required!
Once the bald cap was completely covered, I noticed small gaps between each Catherine wheel. I simply unwound the licorice from a spare wheel and created miniature ‘swirls’ to fill in the gaps.
I then moved onto Brittany’s upper body and created a ‘vest/crop top’ look with the licorice, to give the idea of a form of clothing. Now my design was in place, I went onto paint Brittany’s skin entirely black. After all she is made of licorice now!
To get a nice, solid matte black effect I used black Snazaroo face paint from the waist up as a base layer. I highly recommend Snazaroo for body paint work. However, in order to create the matte effect, I needed to use something that didn’t require brush work, which creates a texture. The best way to do this, is to use an airbrush.
Using Ben Nye airbrush paint in black, I airbrushed over the top of the base coat. My look was almost complete, but I still needed to add my finishing touches.
I used a peach lip stain on Brittany’s lips. This created a ‘sticky’ texture, which allowed me to stick peach and cream mixed glitter over the top. I then used Medusa eye shadow to give a lovely purple & pink shimmery effect to her eyes. I painted her eyelashes yellow using yellow grease paint, topped with Medusa yellow dust, finishing the eyes off with an orange eyeliner.
Finally, I decided to add a hint of colour to the black matte. I dusted the entire top half of her body with a mixture of fabulous glitters and used my airbrush to enhance her natural contour lines.
The look was complete!”
Whilst all that makeup madness was going on… I was busy creating these two little guys!
Fine Art at it’s best…
These guys are humorous, they’re meant to be. I love the contrast of them against the darkness and beauty of our models look. And sometimes, just sometimes, people don’t need to be so god damn serious in what they create. I’m not about the ‘moody’ looking model, with another ‘moody’ looking model, looking super moody together, a little bit naked, a bold pose, some grain, slightly out of focus malarkey. I’m about telling a story. I don’t always need to be dramatic. I can’t lie, sometimes I find the industry very tiring how it has this one ‘look’ in photography and anyone who wants to break away from it is, quite frankly, a disgrace.
Well I guess I must be a disgrace. 😉
Anyhow… With my tiny sweet characters ready to go, and my model looking incredible thanks to Michelle Blacker, it was time to shoot!
I decided to use my yellow studio backdrop again – just because the yellow and black complemented each other so well I couldn’t resist. Plus shooting this on location may of been just too much. The subject and little characters are so vibrant and detailed, the background needed to be simple.
I used my favourite set up for this shoot. One white beauty dish as my main light, 42cm, with a white sock to defuse the light, and two strip softboxes, about 4 stops lower than my main light. These were just to add a very slight highlight. The key to this set up was my beauty dish. I popped in a cheeky reflector to lift any shadows that were too heavy, because when photographing an almost solid black subject, too many shadows can mean a complete loss of features.
My little men decided they didn’t want to stand up by themselves, so Michelle became the ‘puppet master’ as we attached some yellow string to the sweet people, giving us control over their ‘posing’. Shooting time was only about 45 minutes, the real work for me was in post production.
I spent four hours in the editing suite with this one. Body paint can be a tiresome subject to edit, but I got there in the end and I am super happy with the results.
I hope you enjoyed this piece. I would like to create another set of images inspired by food. Now we have taken on licorice…What would you like to see? Please comment below and let me know your ideas!
‘Models, hanging out’