I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Art becomes art at art in art. Say what?

When NFocus creative director, Gunnar Deatherage brought his idea for the August editorial, it really took me a while to really figure out what he was thinking. Even after storyboarding the entire shoot I was still nervous about it all. 3 of the 4 images would potentially be composites and that really frightened me. I knew I could do it, I just wasn't confident enough with my lighting and composition to make sure it actually looked right.

The concept of the editorial would be a woman who enters an art gallery and is then consumed by art, her own art and then becomes that very art. We wanted to express this through extensive makeup and Photoshop trickery. It would’t be an easy project in the least, but trial by fire and setting yourself up for failure is the absolute best way to learn, you won’t forget it.

I did some prep and bathed in knowledge as much as I could, pre-shoot. I was ecstatic and especially excited to work with Ms. Lauren Franck of Heyman Talent Agency once again. It would be a very long day and I knew that Lauren would be up for the job.

Our location was the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts, otherwise known as KMAC. The first set would start with Lauren staring a painting and the shot coming directly from behind, full body.  The lighting at KMAC is actually pretty prominent, but I was running into the issue of making the image dramatic, so for over an hour I played with different light setups, using boomed softboxes, grids and even bouncing hard light. I eventually landed on good ole’ ambient light. I wanted the first image to have a sense of “dull” rather then excitement, there need to be something that caught the viewer, but off putting, leaving them with wanting more.

The second set was one of two composites, Lauren being pulled in by a painting resembling herself. Another example of tough lighting, I ended up bouncing one light from the sold white ceiling, I liked it right from the start so rather then playing, I stuck with the setup. I used a white diffusion panel on the actual art piece to make the post work a lot easier around the finer details. Looking back, I should of done the same with Lauren’s head, but you learn from your mistakes! That shot came easy, we moved onto the toughest set of the day. 

Lauren would be “taken” by a gold statue of herself.

We couldn’t switch in and out of the gold makeup so we had to plan the sets accordingly and really map out our day. I only had one camera so I had to use multiple tripods and leave them securely in place. We moved a large white riser in the middle of KMAC and I setup a one-light scenario, I wasn’t really happy with it but I rolled with it. I composed my shot and with Brooke Duvall’s assistance we had Lauren mock a “terrified” look. We then taped off the wall in the background to mark of the point of contact between Lauren and Brooke for reference when we posed Lauren on the riser with the gold makeup. It took quite a few shots and I didn’t know if we had it or not. I carefully removed my camera from the tripod ballhead and taped off the tripod.

Onto the next set, a beauty shot of Lauren slowly becoming gold which would be composed in a abstract fashion on the second image in front of the frame. The makeup took roughly two hours, I burned time by catching up on a few phone calls and Facebook messages. As we moved into the beauty set things were warming up and we hit a stride. Lauren rocked out a gamut of amazing images and I sent her right back into makeup to get painted in the full gold skin.

Another hour passed and we headed back down to the riser and had Lauren setup right where Brooke was once standing, we compared hand placement to the tape on the wall and went for it. However, because of Lauren’s height, posing correctly and maintaining positioning with the tape on the wall was not an easy feat. It took a grand amount of time just to make things looks right. I didn’t like the fact that there wasn't a safety net incase it didn’t work. By the end of the set, I knew it was all a gamble.

We changed looks and Lauren got her new gold skin touched up. At this point I was pretty worn out. It had already been a long day, but I was hitting that point of exhaustion. Fortunately, the last set would be the easiest. We setup the white riser in a blank corner and had Lauren stand up straight, I asked Gunnar to hold a boomed softbox overhead and within 30 minutes we had our shot. My favorite of the day. The entire team pulled weight and it was a great collaboration of amazingly creative people. It was a true honor to share the museum with everyone that day.

As with every publication, there is a pretty strong deadline. I immediately got to work on these images. The post work wasn’t easy at a all and I’ll be honest, we got lucky. With the third set, only ONE image out of the 40 we may of shot worked in combination with the other. 

Another challenge was creating a creative art piece from a beauty image. Me being a graphic designer was excited to get to that part of the process, but half way through I just wasn’t feeling anything I was doing. I fully admit being my own worst terrible critic and several of the drafts may of been better then the final composite, but in the end the halftone overlay worked for the overall image.

I'm constantly judging my work and pushing myself to be better and better. Did this fall short of MY vision? Perhaps… but I know it made a lot of people turn their heads as the response has been phenomenal. I’m always one to takes risks, this was one I won’t forget.