Sometimes, makeup makes it difficult for the model to stand out. Other times, the location might overpower a portrait.
But there are times when everything together creates a special magic.
Last month, my good friend and very talented MUA/Hair/Stylist Hilde Marie Johansen and I were fortunate to collaborate on a special shoot. The theme was â€œvoodoo queen,â€ and Hilde really outdid herself with the styling. It was so exciting to watch her make the styling pieces for the shoot; it was like we were making a music video for Lady Gaga or something.
The styling and makeup were very elaborate. Feathers, skulls, rope, shoulder pads, leg warmers made out of fake hair.Â For the last set, Hilde glued hooks to the model Jasmineâ€™s mouth and wove black thread in a criss cross pattern through them, creating a look that seemed as if her lips had been sewn together.
Jasmineâ€™s hair was perfect for the shootâ€”wild, thick and curly in a cloud around her face.
When you have a shoot for this type of elaborate styling and makeup, itâ€™s important not to lose the model in the image. The styling and makeup is so powerful that the model really has to push through it all and still show emotion. Directing Jasmine was not difficult, as we had worked together for years. But I still had to be alert and give her a lot of feedback on how her poses and facial expressions affected the shot.
Another concern I had was to choose backgrounds that would complement the portrait instead of cluttering the image and competing with the complicated styling and makeup. When I chose the locations for this photo shoot, I mostly looked for maximum two colors in the background, and if possible, a drab background. We were lucky to have found three different places that worked. One had tall grass and sky, another was a dark wooded area, and another was a small cluster of trees beside a country road.
Itâ€™s not every day that you get to have a photo shoot when everything seems to work together, but it helps if you plan it well.
Hereâ€™s some things we did before the shoot:
We discussed the concept together and made sure we understood the look were looking for.
We agreed on a budget.
Each of us interpreted the concept according to our roles in the collaboration. Hilde went to buy the styling items, and we shared photos that became our mood board, or a sort of storyboard of sample lighting, styling, poses and backgrounds that put us in the â€˜moodâ€™ for the shoot.
We discussed the location (we had been there before) and what type of light would suit the shoot.
We had also wanted to shoot some behind the scenes video footage of our process, so here is the resulting video.
Dodging and burning is a photography darkroom technique that’s been around since film days. Dodging is a technique for making an area of a photo brighter, while burning is a term used for the opposite, the technique for darkening areas in an image. Although there are ready made dodge and burn tools in Photoshop, using them straight onto a digital photograph will invariably damage the pixels of that photograph.
Here is the way I dodge and burn my digital photos without destroying pixels. The goal for this technique is to increase drama in the light by painting the shadows and highlights in.
If you liked this video tutorial, let me know what other topics you want to see covered in the comments!