Monday, June 29, 2009

The peel session - behind the scenes and every shot in under a minute

The peel session from Matthew McMullen Smith on Vimeo.

The idea for the shoot came from my Art Director friend Amelia Tubb to cover model's faces with liquid latex; "basically I want to get them pulling it off their faces like they are pulling it off their skin".

I was extremely terrified and excited to do this shoot. None of us had any idea if this would work or what the results would be. My worst fear was the models ripping their eyebrows off or worse!

Crystal Truehart, Jena Mroz, and Samantha Fox endured three hours and numerous coats of liquid latex before peeling it off. Poor Samantha had her mouth covered in latex so she couldn't even talk for like an hour! I think we effectively waxed Jena's back! We have over 900 photos to sort through!

The video starts off with a little behind the scenes footage of the girls having their makeup done but keep watching to see every shot of the day in under a minute.

For anybody interested the lighting setup was an AB800 with 22" Beauty Dish as the key on a boom just in front and above the models head, another AB800 on a boom in back of the model with a 40 degree grid aimed at the seamless, both were at 1/2 power. A speedotron pack and head with a 10 degree grid was to camera left, positioned to just feather the side of the model, some shots had a yellow, blue or red gel. A large white v-card was to camera right, it was used as a straight bounce but on some shots I put a Nikon SB-800 on the ground with a gel and bounced off the flat. Finally there was a ABR800 ringlight on the camera at 1/16 power to add a little extra "pop". One of the more complicated setups I've used in a while. I felt like Lionel Deluy with all those lights!

Thanks to all the models and makeup artist Leyda Quintero for all your hard work and enthusiasm on the shoot. Jewelry provided by Tom Binns.

Music: NIN Ghosts VII

Monday, June 15, 2009

Limited Edition 11"x 14" prints of the photos featured in B&W Magazine for sale

After many inquiries, the Excellence Award winning photographs featured in Black & White Special Edition #68 will be offered for sale. First editions will be limited to 20, signed and numbered handmade 11" x 14" archival inkjet prints on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta 325 paper, matted and mounted on 16" x 20" board. Please visit to view and/or purchase the photographs.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's all about the photo...that's it

It's all about the single photograph in the end, whether it's from a well planned project or a shot that just happened, only the singular image will remain. When I see a photo hung on a wall I don't ask myself " was this part of a series?", "what was in the frame before or after?", I don't demand to see the contact sheet. I look at the photograph and appreciate it for what it is.

It's hard to decide what "the shot" is and it's especially hard in today's digital world to toss away the rest when "the shot" is selected. I can understand holding onto various photos from a shoot with the idea of possibly compositing them together, "I like her arm her but her expression is wrong," etc., but after all that is it worth keeping the rest?

I constantly go through my hard drives looking through catalogs of photos weeding out the duds. I hope others do the same, I can only imagine in ten or twenty years we'll start to see retrospectives where we get to troll through a photographers hard-drive to view the detritus of his or her career. It may prove insightful to some but in the end, is it not the final image that will stay with us?

One of the reasons I love film is it automatically makes you edit your work, to look for the shot in the roll or rolls of film and print it. Sure, you could do all of them and today, scan all of them, but it's time consuming and there's something about film that just let's you know you found the one. Maybe it's because I know I have the neg and can go back at any time if I change my mind. Maybe it's because, unlike digital, I did not take a gazillion shots and can easily find the best in the meager selection.

The photo above is "the shot" from a roll of film I just developed. I was experimenting with pushing some old FujiFilm Pro 400H to 800, shooting a bunch of random stuff over a few days. On this particular day I was waiting for a bus in the rain on my way to a Marilyn Minter artist's talk downtown. There was something about the way Josie was holding her umbrella, the droplets formin on the top and the light that just screamed out "get out your camera and shot this". I pulled it out, waited for the right moment and took two shots just before our bus arrived. I shot wide open and aimed for the top of the umbrella so the droplets would be in sharp focus.