Ok, maybe makeup madness would be a more accurate title. Some sort of madness. This is a super duper, mega-long post that details the entire process from start to finished pictures.
Click to read the whole thing (with tons of behind the scenes pictures!)
I was planning a big summery photoshoot last weekend. I got 2 stylists and a makeup artist, and 4 models all ready to go… And then the weather turned all crappy-like.
So goodbye nice, fun, outdoors shoot – hello smaller, indoors, more eccentric shoot. I cancelled everyone but a stylist friend of mine and one model. I did the makeup, colored the hair, and “directed” the hair – Meaning I gave my stylist friend an overview of what I wanted, and sat on my ass while she did all the hair work. Ha! I feel like a primadonna already!
It was a bit grueling, just due to the fact that it was only the two of us. I had originally wanted to do the hair and makeup and photos all myself, but that idea promptly went out the window. There’s just no way in hell I can feasibly do everything! It’s a question of time. Man oh man, the more experience I get the more I realize why even small photoshoots require a number of people and assistants.
So division of labor helped us get the shoot done in a mere 4 hours – 2.5 of those hours just doing hair and makeup.
From the start, we got my model situated in a chair in my living room, and my friend went to work with a mini crimping iron on her hair. Section by section, with hairspray and the iron. While she was doing that, I started applying the black face & body makeup. (I use Ben Nye liquid makeup – it’s the bomb diggity!). It looks very… umm… wrong… before I apply the metallic makeup.
After applying the black layer, I went over everything with a soft brush and the metallic paint.
I had already determined which side I was going to photograph from (I just checked her out and picked her good side), and as you can see in the photo above I didn’t bother applying makeup to the parts that wouldn’t be visible. This was half to save time, and half because I only had a l
After the hair was all crimped (except a few parts on the side we wouldn’t see, which was just pinned back in a knot), my friend pinned the hair up in rolls and I painted the metallic makeup over the hair.
Then on to the photoshoot! After everything was done, we shot about 100 pictures in my living room. Started using a backdrop made out of cheap foamcore boards taped together. I have 2 flashes, one which is old and you can’t adjust the light output – so it’s always set on “as bright as the sun” – and one I can adjust, but the zoom is broken so it’s permanently zoomed in like a spotlight. Those two lights, on cheap ebay radio triggers (Yong Nuo in the hizzouse!), both going through shoot through umbrellas (for a softer, more radiant look),
Following my work method, I set things up, dialed the settings in roughly, and started snapping pictures and adjusting. I put the always-nuclear-bright flash high up for my key light, and dialed my adjustable flash down to about 1/8 for a fill light. Set the iso to 100 and the fstop pretty high (out of necessity – the unadjustable flash kind of ruins my ability to play around.)
After checking the photo, I’m not digging it. It looks too…plain. Too evenly lit, like a sears portrait studio lighting set up. I move the key light over to the right side:
Better. I’m not digging the foam core in the background though – I was hoping it would provide some fill and some bounce for the hair and silhouette, since I am handicapped with only 2 busted lights. Oh well, it’s not working and I don’t want to get hung up on making it work, so I move the foamcore off camera left and use it for bounce, and shoot my model against my living room wall.
I get one photo I like:
After snapping a bunch of different poses and angles with the lights that way, I switch it up again. This time, I want to get some depth of field. That means a low fstop – the higher your fstop, the more stuff will be in focus. The lower, the less stuff will be in focus – but the more light will get into your camera. That means I have to turn off my bright-as-the-sun flash completely, or I’ll be shooting way overexposed pictures.
So I swap my adjustable flash into the role of key light, set my fstop how I want it and adjust the flash to be correctly exposed for the fstop, and snap a few pictures. I like one of them.
I used a big silver reflector I made (out of stretchy metallic fabric, like they use in kids dance costumes!) to get as much fill as I could, but as you can see it’s pretty dark. I liked it though.
Took a few pictures from different angles with this setup.
You can see the model is actually holding one end of the reflector, and my friend is holding the other end off camera.
I took a bunch of pics with this setup, tons of different poses and angles, doubles of anything I thought was good (just in case). Then I brought back the other flash, and set it up sort of like a clamshell set up. (Key light up top, angled downwards, fill light down low, angled up words, you shoot between the lights)
You can see some glare from the lights, something I kind of like so I decided to keep it for a few shots before I got rid of it.
I didn’t like how out of place her eyes looked compared to all the makeup and texture on her skin and hair, so I started taking pics with her eyes closed. I immediately liked this profile picture:
After some photoshop, it became this:
And after even more photoshop, it became the picture at the top of this post. I snapped a bunch more pictures, and by now I felt I probably had a few good ones in the can, so we started to goof off a bit.
After that, I finished up and thanked the model for being awesome (super awesome!), started cleaning up my living room (Soooo much crap all over the place…), and then started going through the pictures on my computer.
I use Lightroom and Photoshop, and I wont get into that now because this post is already WAAAAY too long. But hopefully it’s interesting and educational for somebody out there!
Things I learned from this:
- Don’t try and tell yourself you can do everything yourself
- Get as much help as you can with everything
- Don’t cut corners!! (I didn’t wash her hair because I figured it was clean enough. I should have, it would have looked better!)
- Have snacks on long shoots
- Be really nice to pretty girls who let you spend hours painting crap all over them
- Be really nice to friends who help you out on photoshoots