Birth of a Style
Art of Expression
Guiding model expressions and poses is different every time. Generally, I wasn't working with experienced models, which doesn't mean they weren't talented models. It's helpful to master the delicate, but crucial art, of directing someone into a workably neutral expression. This sometimes means saying, "relax your cheeks, breathe out your mouth (so that they didn't hold their lips tight), pull your shoulders down, chin forward and down a smidge, eyes open a tad wider."
These images weren't natural expressions for a normal headshot, they were to have an air of artificiality. I wanted them to feel like old paintings where subjects had to pose for so they became statues.
Food Series Begins
Beautiful and Disheveled
I love to coordinate wardrobe with scenery. Vintage wallpapers still perfectly attached to old walls always make for a delicious surprise. I'm always looking for ways to make shots unique.
I used a variety of locations with different models, which provided several interpretations of the same scene.
What combines with beauty better than decay? More stunning beauty! Searching for abandoned and disheveled places often led to breathtaking scenery. By the way, time of day dramatically effects how your images look. The "Golden Hour," just before sunset is a perfect time!
Can you tell which lighting source was used in each of these images?
A) Strobe plus natural light. B) Hot Light with Large Soft Box. C) Clamp Lights with colored bulbs. D) On-Camera Flash
Colors, Patterns & Accents
I ask models to wear colorful "options" to blend or contrast with the scenery.
Collaborators & Stylists
I reached out to hair stylists and makeup artists to create the perfect image. No money was exchanged. It was simply local artists looking to shoot for love and create fantastic work!
Color Tones & Overlays
Darkroom stains, like cyanotype or sepia, can be applied by immersing finished prints in a tub and soaking them. As you can imagine, there are several toning techniques for the digital darkroom. Most of these images were created using good old-fashioned curves, levels and layers before Lightroom version 1 was introduced in 2007.
Digital Makeup Artistry
I was way better at using Photoshop brushes than make-up brushes. This helped me see principles taught in classic makeup technique books, like Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin, absolutely apply in the digital darkroom.
Using different layers, set to different modes, usually Screen, Color or Multiply, and various brush opacities, I built colors on top of each other, producing natural-looking, albeit bold, makeup. I also love to create Over the Top illustrations.
Post-processing generally goes completely unnoticed. Normally, I don't over retouch my images, but back then, and sometimes now, I give the occasional image an otherworldly makeover. You should try it sometime. Draining an iris of it's color, and making it spill down a cheek like ink. The perfectly symmetrical face, a three-portrait montage, clever splicing trick, or conjoining multiple exposures with smoke. Obviously, some images work better than others, but the idea is to experiment, to create something otherworldly within the world.
Thank you for observing the journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions or comments.
These are just words in an empty room without your comments... please leave one!
Photographer Jake Garn