What happens behind the scenes of a photoshoot? Everything! More than just doing hair and makeup, off-camera actions tell just how hard we work to capture those great shots and how much fun we have along the way. We look this week at events not intended for public viewing.
The role of Art Director (AD) on a photoshoot is one that is often dropped when the shoot isn’t being funded by a magazine or commercial concern. Part of the AD’s job is to have a clear vision of exactly how the finished product should look and make sure everything and everyone is available to produce that look. When we’re working on unfunded projects, though, that planning responsibility typically falls to whomever had the original idea. When we run with a less than crystal-clear concept, or the personal doing the planning doesn’t have a lot of experience, we don’t always think of things we might want/need until we’re in the middle of the shoot.
Such is the case of this shot from a special makeup effects project for Chris Thompson’s portfolio. The idea of creating a split-personality look that was nothing short of horrific on one side while glamorous on the other has received various treatment over the years, but Chris had an idea for how to create a unique look that wouldn’t take 12-14 hours to achieve; this one only took about four hours, super fast by industry standards. We were working from Chris’ apartment so he would have ready access to all the little tricks he might need to apply along the way.
Oops. No fog machine. Not that we didn’t have access to one, but neither of us had thought about it prior to shooting and the relatively late hour at which we were working made running to fetch one impractical.
So, we tried the only thing we did have available: cigarette smoke. Today’s picture is our attempt at creating the desired atmosphere by blowing a full drag of cigarette smoke into the model’s face. Unfortunately, cigarette smoke is considerably more fine in composition than is the normal stage smoke we would use in such a situation. Despite multiple attempts, we ended up not using the smoke, but going with the image below instead.
Photoshoots are rarely perfect, but in many ways that element of experimentation born out of either necessity or a whim is what makes the job so much fun. We never know what we can do until we try, right?