See the Energy Behind an Ambitious Portrait Photograph

We don’t always get the chance to see and appreciate the passion that goes into a photography project. Artists spend days, weeks, months, or even years planning and executing profound works that, in the end, come down to the presentation of a few still frames.

Photographer Kirsty Mitchell shares the energy that went into creating one of her portrait projects in this behind-the-scenes footage:

The featured photograph, called Gaia: The Birth of an End, is one piece of a Mitchell’s Wonderland project. The goal behind the portrait was to portray Mother Earth’s transformation to a goddess. It is symbolic of Gaia’s incarnation and the artist’s beliefs about the never-ending presence of the human spirit.

Gaia’s elaborate headdress, which is prominent in the image, was constructed and painted by Mitchell’s hands. Its size and embellishments made it too heavy for the model’s head to support–it had to be suspended from the ceiling beams with wire.


The design of the model’s costume wasn’t the only time-consuming endeavor of this ambitious project. The shoot itself spanned an entire day, including five hours just for the makeup and body paint preparations. Assistants were on hand to create bursts of yellow powder to represent and explosion of energy. By the end of the day, everything in the studio was covered in yellow, and Mitchell had captured 700 frames.

Kirsty Mitchell went all out for her project’s final photograph. Everything from the design of the set to the end product–the photograph was to be printed two meters high–was executed on a grand scale. The size and energy that went into the portrait were meant to create a powerful emotional connection with the viewers.


Knowing how a picture is created is often just as meaningful as the photograph itself. In many cases, the power behind an image stems from the parts of the project that happen before the shutter is ever pressed.

“I needed this picture to be about an explosion of radiating human energy.”

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2 responses to “See the Energy Behind an Ambitious Portrait Photograph”

  1. Just me says:

    The video reveals that the final shot is nearly all photoshop. Overindugent.

  2. Ben Halicki says:

    This is fantastic work and demonstrates what can become if thought and preparation are applied pre-shoot. Of course Photoshop is involved, but this is just another creative tool in the toolbox. I would love to know what the soundtrack is behind the video.

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