Making a photograph can be as easy as going for a walk with your camera, but it can also be an elaborate process that involves days of planning and determination. Photographer Aaron Nace walks us through his process as he goes from the planning stages with pen and paper all the way up to splashing a mannequin’s head with milk:
Developing a Concept
Nace wanted to integrate splashes of liquid with a portrait after being inspired by other photographer’s portraits involving water frozen by the flash. He started by drawing sketches on a notepad and thinking about milk and fantasy. He gathered reference photos together to help him conceptualize each detail.
Before beginning the shoot Nace had to find the right people to work with. He hired a model with light skin and hair who could fit in and out of multiple outfits to prepare for the shoot. Before the actual day he had her come in and try all the clothes on to see which would work best.
Hair and Makeup
Hiring the right hair and makeup artist was an important detail. Nace needed someone who could look at the reference photos and create a unique makeup style for the photo based off of his ideas. They went with white eyelashes and eyebrows and airbrushed makeup, a unique look that emphasized the model’s pale skin and light hair.
The lighting setup was an important aspect of getting the right shot. Nace didn’t want any shadows so they used two really broad light sources with V flats to bounce the light back toward the subject. These are very broad lights that don’t look like they have much direction, so there are no harsh lines. They also used a beauty dish and a soft box under the model’s nose to reduce shadows. They set up two rim lights on the sides with pink gels and a hair light octabox with an orange gel.
Rather than splash their very cooperative model with cold milk, they found a mannequin that was placed in the same area with the same lighting. Since this was a messy task they put plastic and tarps down to create barriers to protect the crew and equipment. In order to freeze the motion of the splash, Nace lowered the power on his strobe so the flash would be faster and properly freeze all motion.
From an idea to a final photo that started with inspiration from another photographer’s work and became its own original concept, it took a lot of energy and time. What crazy ideas do you have in your head? Start planning your next project!
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