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Free the Naiads Chapter Two: Plastic, Smoke, and Christmas Lights (*NUDE DISCLAIMER*)

· 11.April.2018

As I promised you in my last article, this month I’m here showing and talking about the second chapter on my “Free the Naiads” project. If you didn’t see or read about the first chapter, you can find it here on FujiLove, or on my Instagram feed. The project is about a dream-like vision of the Naiads trapped in Manchester Art Gallery, after the awful removal of Waterhouse’s Pre-Raphaelite painting. In this vision I see the plastic of the covering and the smoke of dust and abandonment transforming into liquid water, in which the Naiads can swim and swirl again, naked and lustful as they were first imagined and described thousands of years ago.

In the first chapter of the “Free the Naiads” project, I focused solely on the wind effects on the plastic  covering, starting from a completely packed Naiad (played by the courageous model Elena Faccio) which suddenly got the plastic swirling and waving around her and slowly freed herself into the solemn goddess she is. The wind worked wonderfully on the plastic sheet and the photos were a great success.

In this second chapter I decided to increase the difficulty level by adding a second Naiad, smoke, and two long strings of led Christmas lights in the scene. I envisioned the smoke and the Christmas lights mixing together and creating a smooth “cosmic” scenario of colorful galaxies and stars, from which the perfect and shiny bodies of the Naiads should emerge like some sort of primordial and malice-free lust.

In order to increase the dream-like mood, I introduced a make-up artist to the project, Eleonora Eilythia. Together we worked on special make-ups that would transform the models (Francesca Polverini, which some of you will remember from my July 2015’s article, and Elisabetta Girodo Angelin) into something close to exotic goddesses. I was really happy with the MUA’s (make-up artist) work. In fact, she participated in the third chapter too, which I’ll probably show you in one of the next articles.

Once the make-up was done, I spent quite some time winding the Christmas lights around the models’ legs and trunks. For that I used a lot of little cuts of adhesive tape fixing the string to the models’ skin, so that the light-strips wouldn’t fall down at the slightest movement. After the lights where in place, I made two little holes in the plastic sheet and then had the models squeezing through them so that their trunks would be outside. Basically, I had them wearing the plastic sheet as it was a giant gown they were sharing.

I placed the smoke machine under the plastic sheet, on a corner out of the frame, so that the smoke would fill the gowns before starting to slowly spill out around their upper bodies. I placed a black background behind, to have nothing else but skin, smoke, and plastic sheet reflecting the lights coming from the studio flashes and the Christmas lights.

During the shooting I mixed several approaches and techniques, like low-key balancing of studio lights and Christmas lights; long shutter time with the camera moving and the studio flashes on, which would produce still images of the models with trails of Christmas lights; shots with the studio flashes off and wide open apertures to capture only the Christmas lights; lots of smoke; little smoke; strong wind. All these mixed approaches and techniques produced a lot of slightly/strongly different images, which still blended perfectly together thanks to the common mood.

I asked the models to interact as if they were alone, in utter intimacy with each other, and completely lost in the moment and in their feelings. I encouraged them to look for each other using their hands, legs, and cheeks, always avoiding malice, as well as sexy or fashion poses. This set had to be about pure physical freedom, because the concept of the “Free the Naiads” project is all about the beauty and perfection of the pure female body and sexuality.

“Free the Naiads” is not over yet, I’ve already produced a third chapter and I am currently in the process of “envisioning” the fourth, which I really hope will see the light in the next few weeks. If you’re interested in the project, you should follow me on Instagram or on my Vogue Italia’s portfolio, since that’s where I fist publish most of my works, and surely all of this project.

I hope you’ll like the photos and the short story behind it. I also hope that, if you hadn’t already read it, you’ll check out my previous article about smoke machines and colored flash lights, because I’m sure that would help you greatly in understanding what is happening in these photos between the studio flash lights, the Christmas lights, and the smoke. Yet, if you have any question about the project, the technique, or any particular photo in this article, please feel free to ask here in the comments or to write me directly!

Luca Rossini

"My photography is a good mix between inspiration, planning, and good old fashioned improvisation. I love working with complex lights and low light, both in studio and in the open. My favourite subjects are portraits which tell dream-like stories; places which seem daydream scenarios; and surrealistic concepts created in my studio. Photography to me is not a way to document reality, but more the way in which I can suspend reality, with all its physical and societal rules, and turn everything into my dream of it.

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