Recently I was invited to shoot a cover story and editorial for a magazine that is quite well-known amongst the photography community for its striking and unusual imagery. Dark Beauty Magazine shares the artistic vision of those who appreciate beauty in the darker, more mysterious parts of our psyche. It features photographers, designers, musicians and artists that explore the shadowy areas of our imaginations and the darker side of glamour. When I first discovered this publication I thought that the idea was rather novel—instead of exploring the clean and bright beauty that you often see in the world's biggest beauty and glamour magazines, they decided to showcase a beauty that is often pushed aside by more mainstream publications. Clearly this resonated with many artists and they quickly amassed a huge following (Their Facebook page currently at 700,000 likes). In fact, I frequently use the images that appear on their page as a starting point for inspiration in some of my own imagery.
I was excited when Dark Beauty Magazine's editor invited me to shoot a cover for one of their winter issues this year, and enjoyed the challenge of going slightly darker, a bit avant-garde, and to fit the mood of their publication while balancing with my personal style. I gathered together my creative team:
Wardrobe: LSC for 4Season Style Management
Hair and Makeup: Johnny Gonzalez
We decided that our concept would be avant-garde headpieces, skulls, feathers, etc — with rich golden toning to make it a dark glamour twist on our style.
To achieve this styling, I actually created a Photoshop Preset that I have included below for you to download if you like this look.
Let's talk gear
I began by selecting the main light-- a Profoto 20'' white beauty dish (softlight reflector). I place the strobe (a Profoto D1 Air 500 Watt) on a boom arm to create dramatic shadows on the face from a high angle and nearly at rembrandt position. I decided not to add a grid because I wanted to be able to see detail in even the darker areas of the clothing, and could darken the photo up in post if I chose.
Once my main light was set, I decided that I needed a bit of separation of the background. I had used a "Fashion Grey" savage background seamless, and used another Profoto D1 Air 500Watt with a 10 degree grid pointed at the background to give a highlight area that would give a bit of separation and glow.
I liked the simple and somewhat stark look this created with the lighting, but upon looking at the image I felt that the clothing still lacked a bit of detail that I wanted to retrieve. At first I tried a gridded light on its own (5 degree) but the beam was a bit too narrow. When I switched to 10 degree I got a bit more spread on the clothing, but now was illuminating a bit of the model's face. To compensate I tried something completely new! I put a 10 degree grid on the light AND added barn doors. This would allow me to have the ideal spread of light on the clothing (just a subtle bit of detail) but then use one of the barn door leaves to prevent the light from hitting the face. A little bit of ingenuity gave me JUST the exact control of light I desired!
I shot all of the images tethered into Lightroom so that I could automatically import them with the Golden Preset (provided below) to see how the lighting, clothing, and makeup were translating in the final effect.
You can see this setup in the BTS photos I have here of the scene. Here is a summary of the gear:
(2)- 10 degree grids
I have included a couple behind the scenes photos as well as the final images for this editorial. I have two looks that are my favorites in particular-- the two feathered headpieces. First the very golden shot of her facing straight on looking powerful like Diana the Hunter is a favorite because of the quiet power she exudes. Next, I love the black feathered headpiece with the black ruffled top because of the elegance and drama it portrays.
It was a successful shoot that I am pleased to share with you here!
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