In my latest new Surreal Fashion image ‘Scarlet Song’, you will see Leonid Gurevich’s awesome red dress that I highly anticipated shooting, ever since he first showed me a sketched glimpse of his design over Skype when we were planning LA. Equally, I was excited to show the other photographers what was in store for them too! Below, see the sketch, and how the look turned out in LA on the chosen model Connie (Wunder Mgt) who devoutly sported the magnificent garment on our Sunday portion of the Shoot Experience in Bel Air.
The dress, one of the more romanticist pieces of the weekend, was suitably teamed with a split-bun Japanese-style hairdo, metallic armour and even a spiked muzzle (see that close up, further down) to meet with the futuristic theme of this event. I am always impressed by how Leonid draws together diverse garments, but with recurrent motifs that gives the whole shoot a powerful cohesion.
When it came to my turn to shoot Connie, I was by the pool area, hoping to get something interested of the big red dress in front of the impressive scale of the house.
In the set-up for this we had two Priolite MBX500 heads, each on either side of Connie, which we experimented with and without softboxes. We moved around the decking area to find different angles on Connie, I interchanged between my Nikon 24-70mm lens and the 80-400mm lens. I wanted the right balance between intimacy and context, and it was difficult to determine at first what composition my shot would ideally take. The Priolite flash helped fill shadows caused by a fairly harsh and hot sun that I was shooting in during this time of day. I had to be careful though with the red of the dress which can easily look burned and over-saturated by too bright a light. I also managed this in post-processing, watching that I didn’t degrade the reds with brightness from over-saturating.
On this set-up I had Leonid the stylist to preen the model and add the accessory of spiked muzzle. Hairstylist Jeffrey and make-up artist Heiddis were also around to tweak Connie through the hour. Tim (below) managed the lighting manoeuvring as well as some dress-tweaking.
Time is always tight even when you have an hour to yourself as I did! To think on your feet and capture as much diversity with the model’s poses as you can, but also, work hard enough to get one shot right. As time slipped by, I concentrated on getting a shot that showed the dress shape well. This was not so easy. In some shots the dress looked like a big red ball and I wanted it to have a more sculptural shape. This took trial and error but I made sure I shot enough different poses to be able to pick something from later.
Below, you can see an array of dress shapes and poses that I shot. It is important with a dress like this to think about shape, and to capture the most appealing and effective one. When you look at beautiful fashion images (look in Leonid Gurevich’s ‘Stunning Fashion Photography’ Pinterest album for interesting examples), you see that the presentation of the dress is all-important. Often that’s one of the reasons why it helps to have the stylist, or another team member, tweak the dress. to get the perfect stance for you upon each shot. However, for me on this shoot, it worked better when people stopped tweaking it, and let it flow organically – so funnily difficult to achieve. I chose a shot that was taken almost right at the beginning when I was was testing the light (bottom far right).
It was my creeping intent that I would transpose Connie onto somewhere different. The white wall of the balcony behind her wasn’t doing it for me, I didn’t necessarily see the pool as synergistic with the more timeless look of the dress. So in Photoshop afterwards, keen to make a Surreal Fashion piece, I went back to some shots I took on the Big Sur last year. Below is the image I used in the final piece of Scarlet Song, along with a boat acquired from a painting ‘Ships in a Fresh Breeze’ by Thomas Koekkoek (18th century).
The final image above. For a while I tried adding bodies of sailors to the dress, but decided the image held enough intrigue without them. Instead I decided to make the sea partly red as though the dress was bleeding into it.
Even on a larger web version is not clear to see the detail of the intricate accessories unless you saw it printed huge, here’s a close-up so you can again see the ‘spiked muzzle’!:
Credits- Model: Connie Roudier, Wunder Management / Styling & dress by Leonid Gurevich / Hair: Jeffrey Fetzer / Makeup: Heiddis Ros Reynisdottir / Shoulder piece: Nikita Karizma / Muzzle: Satori Breonn / Bracelets: Clara Kasavina / Metal bracelet: Gasoline Glamour / Rings: Shiang, Clara Kasavina & Gasoline Glamour / Stylist assistants: Marina Gurevich, Alexandra Estrada, Yesenia Correa / My assistants: Matt Lennard & Tim Matthews
Behind the scenes image credits: Miss Aniela; Frank Carrino & team