Experimenting has always been a major part of my creative process. In my recent fashion portrait study, "Macaw", the focus of my experiment was props that produce special effects as well as in-camera creative techniques. I have already tried moving the camera on slow-shutter before, but this time I wanted to take it up a notch by combining it with reflective surfaces and small sources of light (like fairy lights).
The name of my project "Macaw" speaks for itself. The main idea behind it is to showcase the vibrant and exotic bird character through fashion portrait. Portraying a character in fashion-shoots is always a risk. You can easily slide from fashion to "dress-up". To make sure the shoot doesn't look too costumey, I had to pay special attention to styling and directing the model's body language. Macaw is bright and loud. They are usually found in tropical climate. These were the characteristics I aimed to reflect in the looks, starting from the outfit and up to how I chose to set the light.
The main light idea for this shoot was a 3-light setup using gels and a cutter. I wanted my lighting to be warm and vibrant. At the same time, using only one light set up for most shots meant this set up needed to be convertible and interesting enough. I started by placing one broncolor mobiLED with yellow gel from the side as my rim light and another mobiLED with a strip from the front as a fill. I created my key light using a broncolor Siros L 800 with beauty dish and red gel.
With this particular setup, if my model would have moved, the results would have changed dramatically. It also meant, I could play with each light source's intensity and convert my fill light into key light (or rim light into key light) by simply turning my model and playing with light intensity. We used it to our advantage and hopefully got the most out of the current set up. When the lights were set, I brought in additional items like a piece of thick glass and colorful fairy lights, which I combined with slow shutter to add creativity in my frame.
I also chose to do a portrait during twilight/early night in the forest. That image called for a harder light to create forest shadows effect. I used one mobiLED with standard reflector on a big distance from my model and placed some plants close to the model to create shadows. At the same time, I kept a Siros L with a strip and red gel from the side towards my model to give her skin a beautiful sunset-like glow.
The results were just as exciting as I wanted. The warmth of the tropics, the vibrancy of the macaw and the fashion mood all seemed to sync together. And more importantly, I experienced how playing with lights, shadows, techniques and props can inspire your creativity and give way to new ideas not just on the shoot, but overall.