Creative Push: Dark Dreams

DD_01w With a new website up I had the urge to shoot something old in a new way. I am a huge fan of fine art figure photography, however I find few images I would call “fine art.” Most seem to be more beauty/glamour in their styling. Still some beautifully lit and composed images but more about the look of the model than they are about shape or form.

So over the previous weekend I experimented in studio with some ideas on doing figure photography based on a recurring dream I have. In the dream a figure is rising out of some thick substance such as oil or dark water. Their body is almost formless as it is thickly covered in what they are rising out of. Since I didn’t have any oil and even if I did not many of my model friends would get in it I had to find a alternative. So instead of oil I laid down some large sections of black velvet and then covered my model is a black sheer fabric which was sprayed down with water to give it a slight sheen and to make it cling.

DD_03wI lit the scene with a single light on one side while I stood on a ladder on the opposite side. I intentionally underexposed the image in camera and then brought the exposure up in post if I felt I needed more contrast. My model just simply posed in what was often uncomfortable and unnatural positions. It was a very simple set up but it placed me in the direction I wanted to go in creatively with the images.

Having finished this first set I decided I want to shoot more of this in September. I want to try some variations on the materials I used as well as the lighting to see what I can produce from it. While this may never be part of my portfolio, it is part of my creative process. This is what helps generate ideas and techniques that make their way into my portraits. I have always believed it is imperative as a photographer to push yourself outside of your normal bounds and create something different.


I believe that getting outside of your normal “style” helps develop your style. It let’s you see something that you tend to miss when you shoot the same thing over and over again. I personally have found that wedding/portrait photographers tend to fall into the trap of only shooting with clients more so than editorial/commercial photographers. The danger of this is becoming stagnant and stuck. As a result of doing things like this, my work tends to evolve every six months to a year with slight but noticeable changes in styling. Shooting out of my normal work has caused me to see differently and always be on the look out for the opportunity to grow both as a photographer and a artist.