Studio Experimentation with Helen Mills

The more I photograph, the more I see room for improvement. I want to consider myself “good,” but how do I define that? I want shots that stop people in their tracks. I want a single image that causes someone to bring a friend over and say, “look at that!” These shots are rare, yet some artists seem to have found the magic combination to consistently produce jaw dropping work. I want to get there, and the only chance I have is to study and practice. With this in mind, Helen Mills dedicated a day for us to try random ideas; finding out what concepts work, and which ones do not. I am lucky to know Brooke Hardebeck, owner of Studio B, who was extremely gracious in letting us use her dance studio to make our ideas realities. With this in mind, welcome to spaghetti being thrown against the wall. Feel free to tell me what sticks.

I chose the dance studio because we could make it dark. This adds a challenge, but allows for extreme contrasts. All shots where done with flash or, as in this case, a projector. In addition to trying numerous images, poses and light combinations to get the effect we were going for, the editing on the back-end was pushed beyond my usual comfort zone.

For someone who has none, it’s surprising how much I love tattoos. Using the body to bring art to life, literally, always astounded me. With the projector’s help, I had a small piece of what makes tattoos so amazing, but with much more flexibility. I have always admired The Great Wave off Kanagawa painting and I think it’s simply stunning on the canvas that is Helen Mills.

Helen is an artist, check her work here. Her art, much like Helen in general, drew me in immediately. I had the idea to use tissue paper to mimic brush strokes, as a way to pay homage to her work. With a little honey and water, Helen became one of her creations. It was my job to get out of the way and capture her piece honestly and earnestly.

Finally, I made a large “infinity mirror.” The idea was to have the lighting trail off into the ether, with Helen in front as the focal point. In this image, the color of the lighting immediately drew me to her eyes, which contrasted well with her lips. The smooth falloff of the shadows sealed the deal. While not many shots worked well with the mirror, this one had to be included.

Thanks for taking the time to check out the photos and feel free to let me know what you think!

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