“The [photographer’s] not photographing you, they are photographing an idea that is in their heads and you are the vehicle.”
Riley Jade is a very experienced model and a very talented dancer. The concept developed between four photographers and Riley Jade. Her and a 5 foot by 20 foot sheet of white spandex. The lighting was by a Godox AD600 and an AD200 strobes along with a Neewer TT860 flash.
We tried different ideas starting with a classic shot of the model wrapped in the material. We pulled the spandex tight to get the wrinkles and folds. Of course this was hard for Riley Jade because she was being pulled from both sides. For me, I wasn’t catching what I saw in Riley Jade. I saw a dancer wrapped in fabric. But it lacked feeling and depth.
We had Riley Jade hold the position but lean forward until she had to step out to not fall over. Catching the last moment before she moved her foot took a few takes. I also started to play with color in the editing here. It’s all a part of the process.
I suggested a different perspective to the photographers and we started a different lighting and pose set-up. We set the AD200 centered behind Riley Jade and pulled the fabric taute. We were trying to get silhouettes on the fabric and create a more abstract final shot. I had seen versions of this and wanted to try it.
This was the next shot and my first release of the series. Having the rear strobe at the lowest setting made a silhouette without too much glare. The main strobe added the highlights through the spandex. By dodging and burning to accentuate the shape, I got what I considered an interesting piece. I loved the way she seemed to be in a defensive position protecting herself from something.
The next shot I chose was this pose. I love the romantic yet haunting feel here. The post processing allowed for the legs to disappear into the damaged edges of the shot. The way the body is fading away and the definition is so good where it needs to be, makes this shot for me. I see a timeless quality here and I’m reminded of an old turn of the century (1900) image when I look at her face. There is an artistic quality to this shot for sure.
The final of the series of three is this. Again, that timeless quality that screams vintage yet somehow modern appeals to me. The way her right arm is missing, the interest over her head, the shape of her waist and the wrinkles at her ankle all portray mistakes for flattery and good photography, yet her shape is captivating. Why is her hand defensive? Why is she hiding her head? Her hips look like an old Greek statue perfectly cocked to the side. There is so much wrong in this shot but I see so much right here too. That juxtaposition is me to a T.
We tried some more which were interesting.
Then I had an idea. What if we laid the fabric upon the floor, weighted it down and Riley Jade laid flat underneath? If we used the lighting behind, we may get some interesting shots.
Behind the scene. Riley Jade was so professional and accommodating. I thought something was there, I just couldn’t see it yet. I tried another angle and once I processed the photograph and cropped it a little, I saw it. A macabre yet beautiful image. The female form ‘full frontal’ yet presented in a way laden with meaning of covering a body head to toe with a cloth. Both presentations are heavy with meaning and human desire. It came to me that the image should be sexually stimulating yet it was not. A beautiful woman seemed turned to a faceless form of a woman. As if everything one finds stimulating presented in a way that made those feelings scatter. A great example for me of serendipity in a shoot and most often my favorites.
We placed the lighting against the wall and laid on the floor for a few silhouettes.
These were interesting and fun to shoot and very abstract.
I couldn’t leave this photograph out. Had to push the post-exposure up to see the expression in a dark room. It just shows how much fun a shoot like this can be. I really think that having no expectations from a very conceptual shoot and a willingness to try expressing something of yourself, the results can be quite different.
I recommend hiring a model with very good body awareness and kinesthetic ability if you are inspired by a shoot like this. I did feel a little guilty because I had seen so much of Riley Jade’s work featuring her impressive ballet posing and here we were, covering her in a sheet on the floor.
The editing process happened months later. I saw other fantastic shots from this workshop by the other photographers but I couldn’t pull out what I felt yet. I knew I wanted something a little different and the focus of the shoot for me became some photos I really like. The final shots I used were not the ones I initially chose. I see different things when I look back on a shoot than right after I complete it. I usually pull one or two strong images but then shelf it for a bit.
I enjoyed putting this together today and explaining the process. There is often much more work to get a shot than many people think when they see an image. Which is the aim really, to have a shot that looks so natural, it can’t be staged…right?
Cheers, and www.instagram.com/riley_jade_model is where you can find Riley Jade.