Hey, this photo is © Olena Sullivan | photolena.

Behind The Lens: Paper Muse

February 21, 2012 Articles, Projects, Top Picks

Jennifer Toronto

I had the opportunity to take a workshop recently that not only had a fabulous model – Jennifer Toronto – but also had a truly creative organizer who doubled (tripled?) as the MUAH and costume designer.

Miriana Mitrovich, a great photographer in her own right, has been working with models for quite a while and is becoming known for her haunting painterly images of women in motion – nudes, ballerinas, and women in gorgeous flowing gowns or draped in fabric. It was this that drew me to her workshop – I wanted to learn her lighting techniques and see who these sensual women are that she shoots.

The afternoon exceeded my expectations – not only was it a wonderful studio downtown, but I was able to work with an extremely experienced model and a talented MUAH who not only has the photographic vision for the set, but also does hair, makeup, and created a fantastic outfit made entirely our of NOW Magazines for one of the sets.

Set 1 – La Belle En Papier

I was eager to work with the paper outfit which included a little hat, bra/tube top and pleated miniskirt. Paper props were also available including origami birds, a paper umbrella, a fan, and little origami boats on a long string. After spending several minutes playing the “haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” game, Jennifer and I settled into a steady rhythm using the little boats as props.

I have to say, you don’t always get to work with someone that can easily fall into the theme and is so experienced that they need very little direction. Jennifer is one of those models – we were able to establish the tone of the shoot and she just went with it throughout my whole time limit. I kept imagining a modern sea goddess pulling a fleet of ships to shore. She held her pose until she heard my camera click and then moved into another pose, allowing me to get all the shots I needed. I was so lost in the moment that I didn’t even think of using the other props – all I could hear was “Wow,” “That’s the one,” “Beautiful,” and other comments from the other participants as she posed. Luckily we all had a quick chance to shoot again with the other props at the end of the set and I was able to sneak in the bird and the umbrella in there.

Set 2 – In Velvet

With a quick hair and outfit change, Jennifer was ready to shoot again. For this set, we decided to concentrate on the seated form and portrait closeups. The outfit was a long black silk skirt, black velvet beaded shawl, and black mesh headpiece. Jennifer has a great “fashion pout face” as I like to call it – you see it in all the magazines – and this was a perfect opportunity to use that look.

My main interests in these photos were the softness of the beaded velvet shawl against the paleness of her skin and the spidery lines of the mesh headpiece that worked beautifully with the light. Many of my favourite photos don’t have her face in them and she’s either looking away, facing the other way, or her hand is over her face, allowing the different textures and light to be the focus.

Once we realized that Jennifer had a tattoo on her back, there was a round of photos focusing on the headpiece against the soft skin of her back and the beautiful tattoo. Still working on those images.

Set 3 – Jennifer En Roses

For our final set, we went wild with roses. Miriana had created a large ball of roses (about the size of a basketball) that could be held. With the addition of some red mesh fabric, and a change of lighting, we changed the mood to a soft romantic shoot. As this was an “implied nude” shoot, Jennifer spent this part holding the roses in front of her pretty bosom, but that didn’t limit her creativity in posing.

As I looked at the photos I was shooting in this set, I knew immediately the processing I would use on them. They evoked an Old Masters feel – soft and romantic – and they would look their best using a more painterly processing technique. As I tend to do this technique on high ISO photos, I shot a set using natural light at the end which seemed to inspire the group as we all took 3 minutes to shoot with natural light to experiment with processing.

Below are my favourites from the shoot. Enjoy:

Related articles