Here is a very interesting beauty shoot featuring some bizarre props used in unconventional ways, to say the least. In this video, photographer Aaron Nace uses dead beetles, carefully placed near a model’s mouth, which is painted in stark complimentary colors. The combination of the alluring lips and repulsive bugs creates an enticing juxtaposition that makes the images stand out in the world of fashion photography:
Following in the footsteps of such pioneering photographs as Richard Avedon’s Nastassja Kinski and the serpent, Nace continues a rich tradition of bringing unexpected and startling elements into the often formulaic world of fashion, creating a level of intrigue unreachable by models, clothing, and makeup alone. The addition of objects which are generally thought to be ugly or unpleasant only accentuates the loveliness and grace of the main subject, while at the same time offering a new way of looking at the ugly object itself.
Before watching this video, how many of us saw beetles as beautiful? When seen in this light, we gain a new perspective of the insects, and recognize their brilliant colors, dazzling shine, and fascinating patterns. Making an audience see something familiar, but in a whole new way, is one of the ultimate goals of photography.
The lighting used in this shoot is fairly straightforward, with a single key light placed above the camera, pointing directly at the model’s face. Behind her are two strip lights, which illuminate the white background and spill a little around the edges of her face to create a slight halo effect.
The main light is a bare bulb with reflector, as opposed to the more popular soft box, in order to create a higher contrast image in which the shape and detail of the beetle are sharply defined. The model is given control, allowing the utmost care to be taken with the borrowed and delicate prop, and enabling very slight changes of position relative to her facial movements.
The incorporation of strange elements, whether in fashion or in any other field, has long been a fantastic way to add unique character to your photos, to make them catch the eye and imprint in the memory, or to force the viewer to rethink preconceptions and look on your images with a brand new perspective. Next time you ‘re wondering what a picture is missing, think for a moment that what you’re looking for may be the last thing you’d expect.
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