Photography and Surrealism | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art



The Studio project

Having done my research for ideas on my lipstick project, I wanted to achieve a close up image of the model wearing lipstick and a creative still life of the product.

In the first studio session I focused on the still life image. I brought in a vintage compact mirror as a prop and a red lipstick. I used a white backdrop in the set up to contrast against the black packaging of the lipstick. My transmitter was faulty during this session, several times the lights did not go off when I pressed down the shutter button, which was a little frustrating!

I played around with different compositions and perspectives, including the various reflections in the mirror. The red heeled shoe added a dynamic aspect to the image and the use of the heel to frame the subject was likened to a Saul Leiter image. See the lighting set up below which includes the different camera angles.



I selected the above image due to the composition, with the lip imprint in the reflection of the mirror. Using the spot removal tool in lightroom I removed some creasing in the backdrop paper, adjusted the white balance, increased the exposure, clarity and vibrance.

Instead of cropping the image, I added the round vignette and adjusted the level of feathering to soften the edges. This created the James Bond-esque look. I added the caption “License to pout” in Photoshop using the “rise” text format and played around with the positioning of the text.

Overall I am happy with the result, however there are shadows to the left of the subject which in hindsight I could have improved this by adjusting the position and strength of the lighting to the left hand side of the camera.



This set up was in a corner of the studio with the back drop placed over a table. Due several people being present in the confined area, we had to ensure that we did not bump into each other or trip over any cables and potentially cause damage to the equipment or ourselves.

When dismantling the equipment at the end of the shoot, we had to remain vigilant of trip hazards and potential burns from the heat of the lights. All the equipment had to be stored away safely and correctly.

In the following studio session, I experimented with coloured gels attached to barn doors. The orange gel gave the models hair a pinkish shade and due to the direction of the light, the colour effected the skin tone and whites of the eyes. The purple gel gave a nice hue and a different mood to the image. I felt it had an 80s look and a disco feel (Debbie Harry?).



The following images were captured solely with a soft box and a reflector. This style of Rembrandt lighting created a lovely soft light from the box at one side and a little shading on the right side of the models face for a more dramatic look. A large soft box was positioned up close and directed downwards from above the model.


Following these shots, the light on the right side was turned back on with barn doors attached to control the span of light from the it.

My final image was selected due to the models relaxed pose and the close up composition. The lighting created a heavy contrast of light and dark, I had to slightly increase the exposure in Lightroom as the light from the soft box was not strong enough in the shot. The white balance was adjusted and I reduced the clarity to soften the skin. Using the spot removal tool, I removed a small lipstick mark on the teeth.

Of the two images above, I selected the one on the right for print. The level of clarity was enough to keep the look natural, whereas the one on the left was too soft.


This set up was in a larger area of the studio, however there was another set up directly behind me whilst I was shooting. As before, vigilance was vital to avoid damage to the equipment and any potential trip hazards were identified prior to the shoot, for example taping down the backdrop and running the cables from the lighting into a safe position.

From this project, I learned how important it is to get everything right on the shoot as tiny imperfections, such as stray hair or lipstick on teeth, take up time in post production!

I have a lot more to learn in the studio and I wish to develop a greater understanding of the positioning of lighting so that I can improve my skills.

Lighting determines the brightness and darkness and it can also be manipulated to create a certain tone or mood. For example, black and white photography relies heavily on the correct positioning of light. As demonstrated in class, the distance of the lighting to the subject effects the depth of shadows; the further away it is the stronger the shadow.

In addition to improving my lighting skills, I would like to do a Photoshop masterclass to improve my confidence when using the software.