makeup ides

Human Canvas

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Something that often raises its head in my mind is the topic of personal insecurity. Not in the financial or physical sense, but more in the way of a mindset or mentality. Being a photographer, my work is a visual medium, and therefore every job has infinite possible resolutions and outcomes (rather than one ‘correct’ answer). That makes it highly subjective, and very open to interpretation. I think that many artists are a little insecure about their work deep down, and I am not a stranger to doubting my own abilities or artistic vision. So when someone approaches me with praise for my style, I get very very excited (if not a little “aww shucks” esque.)

One such kind soul was Alex Nixon, a student studying makeup. Alex had seen my work online and asked me to document one of her projects, which involved body painting. She sent me some references, and noted that she wanted to create a piece that was inspired by Chinese and Japanese traditional paintings. This was, of course, right up my alley, so I agreed straight away. We organised a date and time, as well as a gorgeous model – Chervil Tan from Vivien’s.

On shoot day, Alex pre-painted Chervil’s back before arriving at the studio. The references she sent me had been quite well-lit, with a pale grey background, so that is what I started off with. I wanted to ensure that I documented Alex’s work clearly, so that you could see the brushstrokes and fine details.

But after that, I wanted to have some fun of my own.

I thought that the concept and subject would really suit some darker, more moody lighting. So once we had the lighter shots captured, I changed the lighting to something more directional, to really accentuate texture and form. I love the way that the light falls on the body (in the image above), as the physical 3D nature of the back and shoulders blends with the painted landscape. I was also careful to keep the face in shadow, so that the emphasis was still on the painting, and the image had a sense of anonymity about it.

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Of course, I took some portraits as well, and some shots to show the makeup on Chervil’s face (not just her back!) How gorgeous is the kimono? Alex whipped it up herself the night before. So much skill! The colours were also really gorgeous, especially against the hues of the cheeks.

I wanted to capture a quiet, almost still mood for these images, and I think they came out well. Alex was absolutely stoked with the shots, which I was really pleased about. All the best with the folio Alex!

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Welcome To Colour

A few years back, when I was still studying, my partner (who was interested in photography at the time) collaborated with an amazing makeup artist by the name of Jyoti Chandra. I loved her work, and her personality, and had wanted to work with her ever since. But I thought, she would never want to work with me. So when I replied to her casual facebook post “who wants to shoot?” and she said yes, I was really excited.

We had decided to do a colourful shoot. Something bright and fun and spontaneous. Just what I needed in my folio, which seems to have an aversion to colour at the moment. Jyoti turned up at the studio armed with props and garments, and bright paper backgrounds. We got talking straight away like we had seen each other only days ago, when in fact we had only spoken a handful of words to each other, three years prior.

It was going to be a great shoot!

Whilst hair and makeup was being done, I started testing out some lighting. I usually use a chair for this (which is not that accurate, as a chair has quite a different shape to a person’s face), but because the fabric began much higher than chair-level, I had to improvise.

Behold, my temporary model. She was very co-operative- didn’t complain or move once during my testing!

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We had a few different ideas to play with, as well as a table full of accessories, props, and other fun things. We also had two models from Scene to work with- Olga and Stephanie. Olga arrived first, and we decided to start out bright. We used a piece of striped fabric as a background, and I light the set with my reflective parabolic, and flat lighting on the background. If you look at my folio, it is (in general) quite shadowy, with lots of blues, blacks, and neutral colour palettes. So it was very refreshing to shoot something bright and colourful. A little scary too?

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Olga was fantastic. Moved well, and fit into the characters we created quite easily. Whilst Jyoti worked on Steph’s makeup, Olga and I shot through around 4 different outfits, playing with accessories and poses each time. I usually shoot quite quickly, and this was no exception. I know when we have got the shot, and I don’t like to keep models going on and on and on, because it wears them out too. Moving quickly keeps things fresh, in my opinion. Plus, my phase files are huge, and having to sort through so many can take even the harshest critic a week.

With Olga wrapped, we began on Steph’s set ups. Still using bright colours, but with more of a punky/graphic vibe.

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Photo from Jyoti’s instagram

Steph was great to work with as well. Behind her tattoo’d, short haired exterior, she was very sweet and I wanted to keep her! She also knew how to emote, so pretty much every shot was strong. We had a few coloured wigs for Steph, which added a pop of colour to the images. I knew we had to watch out for the hair getting caught in the eyelashes, because it is a nightmare to retouch. So I ended up being a bit of a wig police.

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We shot a heap of looks in a short space of time, even some without wigs. The final shot of the day brought us to a gold metal shoulder ‘accessory’ (I have no idea what to call it!) It looked sort of like dragonfly wings, and draped over the shoulder. There was something about those last shots that were special, and I can’t wait to have them retouched and ready to show the world. But I guess you will all have to wait and see what we created!

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Photo from Jyoti’s instagram

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PHOTOGRAPHER || Steph Doran
HMUA + STYLIST || Jyoti Chandra
MODEL || Olga Gurkina @ Scene Melbourne
MODEL || Stephanie Hall @ Scene Melbourne