Dressing a Model with Light Using Long Exposure Photography Techniques

Model Jasmin Brunner never had the chance to touch or try on her dress for the Belvedere Vodka photo shoot. In fact, her dress was never tangible; she struck her poses wearing only a nude-colored bra, underwear and shoes. Photographer Atton Conrad wanted to put a twist on a traditional high-fashion commercial shoot, and based the session on an editorial he previously created for 125 Magazine that focused on models wearing light painted dresses. The concept behind Conrad’s shoot was to create a fresh, clean look for Belvedere’s advertisements:

Despite Brunner never actually “wearing” the dress, Conrad’s final product looked incredible.

light painted dress

Creating a Dress With Light Painting

  • Use A Good Light Source – In this video, Conrad used electroluminescent wire to “paint” a dress in the open space. The thin, illuminated wire moves in a sweeping motion, much like an actual paint brush, and leaves a trail of light that looks like material. You can also use small flashlights or LED lights to achieve a similar effect.
  • Keep Your Body in Motion – Light painting requires the use of a slow shutter to pick up the constant trails of light. As the painter, you must remain in motion while dragging the light source through the air to avoid capturing your image on the picture.
  • Wear Dark Clothing – Wearing dark-colored clothing will help keep you from appearing in the final photo by not allowing the light to reflect off your skin or clothes.
  • Picture the Dress as You Paint – It is almost impossible to remember exactly where you painted the lines of your dress, but if you have an idea of how you want the finished dress to look, it will make your artwork easier. If you want a dress that is flowing, you should create long, sweeping motions with the light; if you prefer a dress that looks like it is made of feathers, consider using sharper, jagged lines around the hemline.
  • Dress Your Model in Nude – Wearing skin-colored undergarments will keep your model looking uniform and make it easier for you to slip the dress on her silhouette in your computer editing program.
  • Take a Variety of Shots – You will need photos of your model in different poses and you will want a variety of light painted dresses. The larger variety you have, the easier it will be to find a dress and a pose that match when you layer the two images.
light painting

Brunner poses during the photo shoot without wearing the dress.

light painting layers

Conrad edits the light trails to create a dress.

“The process is always sort of fun, because you never know quite what you’re going to get and it’s always a surprise. It’s sort of a controlled chaos in that regard.”  -Atton Conrad

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