How would you go about flipping a room onto its side? Photographer Daniel DeArco had that question, and through days of conceptualization and construction, he was able to accomplish the feat in a small studio in San Francisco:
DeArco’s plan? Create the illusion of a model bursting out of a mirror. Though this may seem relatively simple with the help of compositing software, the photographer wanted to challenge himself by getting the scene perfectly in camera. To accomplish this, the studio team manufactured a small set of an inverted room. The room was composed of a simple platform flanked by two conjoined walls, with a small waterbed on the floor meant to act as the “mirror.” Props were fastened to one of the side wall, adorned with hardwood.
Creating the set was far from the first obstacle DeArco had to overcome. With only a limited amount of time allotted within the studio, it was imperative to figure out an easy lighting scenario that could function for both still and moving images. So, as a base, an overhead softbox fitted with a grid loomed over the top of the makeshift room. A strobe just out of sight added a bit of a backlight to suspend the water droplets in mid-air, providing just the right amount of light for a stationary photograph.
To produce the accompanying videography, some more power was needed. A Fresnel placed on camera right acted as a pseudo hair light while simultaneously brightening up the props in the room. An LED panel placed in line with the strobe flash strengthened the backlight. Lastly, a reflector bounced some extra light back onto the model.
With the the set and the light locked down, the final element was finding the right model to complete the scene. Dancer Valentina Reneff-Olson proved more than capable of contorting her body to fit the surreal scenario.
The right gear, plenty of supplies, helping hands, and a superb model all make for great photography. But as DeArco proves in this behind the scenes short, imagination trumps all when it comes to making a truly captivating image.
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