Creative Portrait Project with Shattered Glass Fragments

The plight of foster children is a heart-wrenching one, and one that photographer Rob Woodcox takes very much to heart. In this video from Jakob Skogheim, Woodcox strives to capture those feelings through the power of photographic images. Using shards of glass, he photographs his model among shredded and fractured light being shot in hundreds of different directions, bounced from one place to the next, each fragment unable to represent the model as a whole:

The result is a beautiful set of highly surreal images, with the bright strobes creating fantastic light patterns on the background, model, and even as it flares off the lens’ surface. The possibilities that arise with incorporating reflective and refractive elements into your photography multiplies exponentially when you consider the myriad ways that light can react to different combinations of light-bending objects.

When working with children and broken glass, Woodcox takes every safety precaution; notice how he and all his assistants are wearing long pants and close-toed shoes. Experimentation is a wonderful thing, but it’s important never to be careless, especially when the safety of others is in your hands.

surreal portraiture

Mirrors Reflecting Light

The images were created by gluing pieces of broken mirror to a black backdrop, then suspending others on strings, hanging from the ceiling. For added interest, he dangles a few very small shards from a stick, right in front of his lens – the incredibly soft focus on such nearby objects creates the same illumination with a softer, less defined object, enhancing the confetti-esque look and bringing the explosive motion directly towards the viewer.

Wilcox uses a Canon camera with what appears to be a simple 50mm f/1.4 lens. The depth of field allows for a certain amount of selective focus, with the aperture likely sitting around f/5.6. Though he tries a few different lighting setups, he places the strobes predominantly to the side of the model, creating dramatic shadows across her face.

surreal portrait

The post processing, as he mentions, he quite straightforward – spot removal of the suspending strings along with basic levels and curves gives the photographs a rich and natural feel to an otherwise very abstract set of images.

This shoot was arranged as part of Wilcox’s charitable project, “Stories Worth Telling“, with which he raises money to help send children to summer camps and mentoring groups. Through this organization he hopes to make life a little easier for the forgotten children whose stories so desperately need to be told.

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