Photoshoot Blog, 18th May, 2017

Spice girl

Sophie is a favourite model I haven't worked with for a while, and we were keen to do something a bit arty and outside the box. Sophie's a pretty creative, adventurous type, so it meant having some freedom to experiment and take some risks, try some things that might not work.

I've been doing a lot of beauty closeup work lately, and still keen to explore that territory, but wanted to get away from the usual glamorous glossy textures.

I started with a vague idea of the look I wanted, and ran around to several art stores trying to find some kind of suitable coloured powder, but no-one had the colours I wanted, a turmeric yellow and a paprika red. So, I decided to just get actual turmeric and paprika! For the white powder, I bought both talcum powder and flour, just in case the texture was off, or in case the talcum powder was too white to show any detail. I ended up not using the flour, as the talcum powder allowed us to slowly build up the powdery look by gradually blowing more and more onto Sophie's skin.

We shot some more generic beauty images prior to making any mess, as I was in pretty experimental territory, and just wanted to make sure that we at least got some good quality beauty photos, in case the powder idea came to nothing. We ended up somewhat obscuring Suzanah's beautiful makeup work with talcum powder, so it's good to have some nice shots of the makeup beforehand. This shot was taken after adding some paprika, but prior to adding the turmeric.

The lighting for this was a single Godox QS-600 with a small octobox, placed in front of the model, high enough to produce some defining shadow detail despite the bright exposure. The light was turned down to minimum, as I wanted a wider aperture to allow for some selective focus. The hair being a little out of focus enhances the impression of the focused details being super sharp.

The trickiest part of this shoot was applying the powders - I had Sophie sitting on a large studio box so that she could lean back and drop her head back to add more powder. It was important to keep the paprika away from the eyes, and it was difficult to place, as it didn't cling to the skin the way the talcum powder did. The powder is right through her hair, as I really didn't want the fake look of that clean skin around the hairline that you sometimes see with this kind of image. The later shots with turmeric & paprika on her face are a lot messier, but this was my favourite point in the progression. Look out for more of those images on my Instagram next week.

The image was was taken with a 90mm macro lens on an APS-C sensor camera. The settings were ISO100, 1/125sec, F7.1.

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About the author

Jeremy Phillips is a professional photographer based in Perth, Western Australia, specialising in beauty, fashion and dance photography. He manages River Road Studios, a professional studio available for hire, and runs educational workshops and creative activities for aspiring photographers.