Friday, August 19, 2016
"Moniaive Comics Festival is coming up - it would be an ideal time to try out the Manga photo shoot," said Ralph, hairdresser and owner of Dumfries salon, Basement 20. It was an idea we'd discussed a while back - creating hairstyles and characters based on Japanese Manga - a very recognisable comic-book style of drawing and animation.
In a break with tradition, rather than keeping the behind-the-scenes video until the end of the post, I'll put it here near the top. Have a look, then scroll down for rest of the story.
Although this post is following the one about the Comlongon Castle photo shoot, the event took place about a a few weeks earlier, so this was the 2nd time I'd worked with Ralph, and the first time I'd worked with makeup artist, Jade Jamieson.
Our wonderful models with amazing hair and makeup
While there were no owls at this shoot, there were a lot more people involved.
Tim from the Craigendarroch Hotel provided us with a venue, and a steady supply of coffee and nibbles. Our 4 models were Katarina (who you might remember from the Photo Shoot at the Rural Mural), Jacob, Amy and Hayley, and each was given a different persona and style. Jody (also from the Rural Mural shoot) and James were also brought in to style hair, while Olly was on hand to assist as required.
The entire operation was open to the public who would stumble across us while wandering between other festival events. Although I tried to remain completely focused on my camera settings, the models and the lighting, every now and again I would become aware of small crowds building up, watching what was going on.
Moniaive Comic Festival organiser, Sue, also roped in 3 internationally renowned cartoonists - Jim Stewart, Robert Thomson and Stref (2 of whom also sketched the backdrops onto the reverse of a couple of rolls of wallpaper), who started sketching the models while I was photographing them.
Hayley interpreted by 3 different cartoonists
Samuel from Maklab in Dumfries was also invited along to scan the heads of the models and turn them into small busts using a 3D printer, adding an entirely different interpretation to them.
Amy - printed in 3D
Once the day was over and I was back at my computer going through all the photos, I had to decide how to process the images. The point you click the shutter on the camera is only one stage on the journey to the final image. The raw file is the equivalent to a first draft - now comes the editing, refining and honing it to fit the vision you have.
In the end I opted for 2 very different styles of post-processing. For the close up headshots I decided to emphasise the colours, making the most of the coloured gels I had used in the original lighting set up. But for the body shots I went instead for blue-sepia tones, which gave them a much more illustrated feel.
Photo shoots like this are not that common, and I wanted some kind of record of the event. So I dragged my friend, fellow photographer Allan Wright along to film the whole thing. But I was also rewarded with the lovely bonus that Katarina brought her camera along and set up some time lapse sequences, which I was then able to incorporate into the video.
I wanted a rocking soundtrack to go along with the video, and initially I thought I would use another track from my band, The Cracked Man. However, when I talked to Marcus, he'd just been doing a recording session with a talented young lass who performs under the name KLEO, and played me her track, "Anger Within Me". It seemed to work perfectly. I spoke to KLEO and in exchange for a photo shoot she was more than happy for me to use her music on the video.
Looking at the photos, the cartoons and the 3D busts, Ralph and I felt it would be a shame for it to just end there, so the idea came up to have an exhibition. We went out to see Matt Baker at The Stove in Dumfries to discuss the idea, and he loved the whole collaboration aspect of the project and was happy for us to exhibit there.
Last night we had the preview evening, and the exhibition runs for the next two weeks, until 1st September - do pop along if you can and let me know what you think.
I am aware that many readers of this blog live just a bit too far away to make it along - several have an ocean or two in the way - so if you'd like to see the complete collection of photos, please click through to this album on my Facebook page: