Behind the Scenes - Glitterbomb

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The Glitterbomb shot was inspired by Rankins, Miley Cyrus image. I loved the Glitter effect but I really wanted to put my own twist on it, make it a little more alien. I had also been thinking about doing a bokeh, glitter effect for a while but not got round to it and this seemed as good an opportunity as any?

As a team we always start by sharing a Pinterest mood board and dropping images in for inspiration. These are a great tool for brainstorming, compiling ideas from different sources then enables you to come up with your own unique interpretation. We tend to keep them as secret boards before a shoot so that nobody knows what we’re planning. It’s not that I’m paranoid I just like surprises! Kari (the makeup artist) didn’t really understand my concept of the bokeh glitter effect, but when she saw an example image, she was more than happy to go with it for the shoot, this is a great example of being able to demonstrate ideas using the boards.

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The makeup took up most of our booked time and I was amazed at the scale of the job. We actually had more detail planned, but had to call it a day with only 30 mins left to actually get the shot. Credit to the two make up artists this was a tougher gig than any of us planned and they really grafted to get it finished in the allotted time. On the upside we managed to recharge for ten minutes with a pizza break although the model Salleh had her own battle trying not to add gritty glitter to her topping and drinking through a straw! Salleh showed fantastic patience and understanding as she had to get into quite a few creative positions whilst the glitter was applied so that it wouldn’t just fall straight off! Our initial plan was to cover her chest up in a similar style to Mystique in the X-Men movies, but unfortunately the nipple covers didn’t work very well and looked terrible. We all agreed to just leave them off and I’m glad we did as I think this subtly really helps in the final image.

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While the makeup was being applied I set about sorting out the lighting. This is pretty much my ‘go to’ lighting setup. I may vary it a bit but I really like the look it gives me, although I actually lost a little in the final image which I’ll explain later.

Its a simple three light setup in front of a black paper background. Two strip boxes positioned behind the model at 45 degree-ish to give a rim light and separate her from the background and an octabox above her, to the right of the camera at 45 degrees.

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When the Salleh was 99% ready we decided to get her under the lights and start shooting. This way we can see where we need to touch up the makeup for the final shots. I use an eye fi card to send the shots directly to my iPad. This way Kari and Alice (her makeup assistant on the day) could keep a watchful eye to sort out any imperfections. I have to say Kari is excellent at this and why she is one of my favourites to work with.

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My initial shots(without thrown glitter) the rim lights were metered around f/6.3 and the key octabox at about f/11. This worked well and once the makeup was touched up the images were pretty great straight out of the camera.

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With time running out we went for the big finale! I moved the lights further away and lowered them right down so I could meter f/3.2 on the key light. We started with Salleh blowing the glitter out her hands towards me, but this look didn’t work as it either caused a strange expression that didn’t suit the look or too much glitter in front of Salleh’s face. So instead we decided to have Kari and Alice throw the glitter into the shot in front of Salleh, like confetti. This option worked perfectly and we managed to get it in just two shots. The only thing I lost, as I mentioned earlier was when I moved Salleh back to be able to create room for the glitter it meant she stepped out of the rim light, which I forgot to move in our rush to finish. I feel, admittedly with luck, this actually worked with the shot though as she looks more like she is stepping out of darkness and it helped backlight the glitter better.

It was a fun shoot, with a great team. We made a ton off mess that was hard to clean up but luckily Tiptop studios in Birmingham was having a big refit the very next day, so as always, Steve and Deb were very understanding. I hope you like the final product.