I'm just now finishing up my latest project - Ghost Stories, which is my final project I'm doing at the school I'm attending. We're having an exhibition between December 12-17 here in Gothenburg so I made this short teaser video as a glimpse to set the mood for my project.
Since I've done 3 shoots I'm going to be dividing this post into 3 separate parts where I'll be sharing my process as well as the final result. However this first post will be longer one because I'll be explaining some of the early stages of the process. If you're interested in the school then here's the link to it: www.fotoskolangbg.se. It's a 2 year education that focuses on photography as a trade rather than the artform.
Ok, so getting back to the process. I've been mulling over what to do for my final project for the past year and a half, basically since we started. I've changed the direction I wanted to take it so many times, but one thing that remained in my mind was that I wanted to do something that I don't normally do. Something bigger than I'm used to. So I was watching this brilliant tv-show called Penny Dreadful and suddenly realised how much I've always enjoyed victorian clothing and settings as well as rich characters. Combined with a dash of horror and I knew that that was what I wanted to do - Victorian portraits in environments with believable clothing and makeup with a dark and gloomy mood.
I immediately headed over to Pinterest to set up a moodboard. Finding good inspiration wasn't exactly difficult so I landed pretty quickly in something like this:
Whilst looking at all these beautiful pictures I realised pretty quickly I wouldn't be able to pull this project off on my own. So I started thinking about who I should get into contact with that could help me get to where I wanted. I started to look for a makeup artist pretty early and one of my classmates suggested the very talented Agnes Duvander, who does makeup, styling and her own wigs(!). We set up a meeting and she really liked my ideas. I've seen her work prior and knew she was good at what she does. I then started to look for models. I knew I wanted interesting characters rather than just a "pretty face". I already had some people in mind so I got that settled pretty quickly. More on that later.
It got me thinking that I probably wanted the best possible quality out of these pictures. So I worked some of my connections through school and managed to get the opportunity to borrow a Hasselblad H4D with some additional lenses. The people over at Hasselblad are amazing!
So for the first shoot I decided to focus on a location I found a few months ago called Aftonstjärnan (translated The Evening Star), which is an old and beautiful theatre with red drapes and a spotlight. I've been there before and instantly fell in love with it and I knew just the perfect model for it. So my first shoot was with my friend Anton who loves to be on stage and has no problem stepping into the shoes of a character. And he was on board straight away. I called the theatre up and there was absolutely no problem for me to do my shoot there. It felt great at this point.
Then me and Agnes started to look at clothes. We started off with brainstorming a bit and then rummaged through the wardrobe at Balettakademien Göteborg where they have a lot of amazing clothes. I felt like a kid in a candy store in there. So we found some pretty awesome clothes for all the shoots.
Around rolls D-day, and I was feeling excited. Me and Agnes first had a meeting for a later shoot first then headed over to the location to start prepping. I started rigging the lights and tested the lighting for a good while before I was completely satisfied. I tried to use the spotlight that was already there but it was not bright enough and the Profoto flashes overpowered it even on the lowest setting. The Hasselblad is no good on anything over ISO 100 so I decided to try and replicate the spotlight with a snoot. I bought a fog machine (a pretty cheap one) for this shoot so I set that up and it worked really well and added to the atmosphere I was aiming for. I decided to use the snoot as my main light and a bigger soft box as my fill light for the backdrop. For the closeup portraits I used a beauty dish with a modifier in front of it to get a slightly softer spread. So here are some process shots that I did and I'll get to the final result further down.
So there you have some process shots. We had a blast that evening and when I got home and looked at the results I was amazed! That 50 megapixel sensor is truly fantastic! I could really see the difference right away from my Canon 5D mkIII. Not that the 5D is a bad camera, but a medium format sensor with that resolution is just something else.. So then I started retouching, and with these files it sure does take a whole lot longer. But it was a real treat to edit these images and I'm very proud of the results. Both images took around 25 hours to edit. I spent a great amount of time on these pictures and I hope it shows. So without further ado, here are the final results!
Huge thanks to the following people who were involved in this shoot:
Agnes Duvander & Balettakademien - Makeup Artist/Styling/Assistant
Anton Svensson - Model
Bertil & Conny at Teater Aftonstjärnan - www.aftonstjarnan.se
Ove Bengtson at Hasselblad - www.hasselblad.com
My teachers Kalle Sanner & Klara Källström - www.fotoskolangbg.se
Götaplatsens Foto for the prints - www.gotaplatsensfoto.se
So that's it for part 1, part 2 to follow shortly!
Link to Part 2 - Part 2