My good friend and amazing make up artist did a tremendous write-up on this photo series on his blog here. I'm not going to be able to say anything better or more about this series so give that a read and enjoy the photos below!
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Over the past two weeks my friend and amazing makeup artist Matt Goodlett, MattGoodlettMakeup.com, has taken part in makeup inspiration challenges issued by another local makeup artist. I've worked with Matt on several occasions and regardless if it's SFX, beauty, or anything else there's never been a time when he hasn't absolutely nailed the look for the photo. So when he asked me to photograph the makeup for these two challenges I quickly accepted as I knew he would kill whatever look he was going for. But even after having worked with him multiple times before and seeing him work on other ideas it's still incredible to see how quickly and skillfully he draws from a source photo and creates something beautiful.
Mandarin Duck Challenge
Matt did a great write up of this challenge on his site here that I suggest you check out. Photographing this one was fairly straight forward, Matt knew how he wanted the photograph to look and I knew how to get that look. This was more or less a simple clam shell lighting setup with a gridded beauty dish as key and a silver reflector for fill. Using a gridded light with a reflector can be tricky but it does create a beautiful light when done correctly. If I had to do this one again I would probably try an even tighter grid on the beauty dish for an even more directional light. The beautiful Kaylynn Nyree was our model here who I suspect you'll probably see doing big things soon.
Drawing Restraints Challenge
This challenge, to me, seemed a bit more complicated. No colors, no defined shapes, white background, and a ton of possible interpretations. Going into this shoot I wasn't quite sure what Matt had planned. I thought we might go with a high-key look but after seeing the makeup Matt was doing I knew that wouldn't quite work. So white was out but I also wanted to avoid a pure black background as well. With the makeup as dark as it was I was worried that the model would get lost in so much blackness. Luckily the room we were shooting in provided a solution. Behind the model was white shelving which, when tilting the key light up slightly, is barely discernible but enough so as to help separate the model from the background.
Lighting this was a bit more complicated as I wanted to, of course, not only highlight the work Matt had done but help bring out it's character. For the face, a 24"x24" softbox provides soft, beautiful light but it's a small source so it quickly gives way to the harsher rim lighting from the 10"x36" stripboxes behind the model. This contrast between the softer and harsher light matches the contrast between the the chaotic nature of the body makeup and the more controlled beauty makeup on the face. Our model, Bec E. Bien, nailed the looks and helped create one of my new favorite photos.
I love being a part of these challenges and seeing Matt's interpretations of the inspirational photo as well as all the other makeup artists who participate in these challenges. Their approaches to the same subject are all different yet equally creative and well done. Be sure to check out more of Matt Goodlett's work at his website MattGoodlettMakeup.com and pop over to my Conceptual gallery to see more work we've done together.
An interesting thing happens when working to create a themed photograph, freedom becomes oppressive and restrictions offer the greatest opportunities to explore. This seems counterintuitive at first but makes more sense when considering direction. Imagine for a moment you stop to ask for directions to a certain restaurant and you receive the simple answer of "drive east." Vague at best but it would at least get you headed in the right direction. You again stop to ask for directions and although the answer you receive is still vague you are told which streets to take to get to the general vicinity of the restaurant. Neither answer is incorrect as, sooner or later, they would get you to your destination but with the open ended answer of "drive east" you'll spend more time worrying about actually getting to the restaurant then anything else. In contrast, if you had a more direct answer, such as how to get to the general vicinity, you'll be able to explore more around your destination without too much of a worry that you'll actually get there.
To wrangle in this metaphor, my 'restaurant' in this case was a Halloween themed photograph. This, of course, is very open ended and having a general idea of wanting 'something spooky' might have gotten me started in the right direction but it was still too broad to get me where I wanted. I knew there were a few aspects I wanted to incorporate into a photo such as using an 85mm focal length for a tight shot, including a skull or bones in a subtle manner, smoke, and using different blend modes in photoshop to better learn how to use them. To get back to our metaphor, these restrictions directed me to the general vicinity of what I wanted and I was able to play around with what I could get there without worry of not getting anything at all. In the end, I decided on the photograph below: