Photographing The Blow Motion Make-Up Technique

· 29.November.2019

As a commercial photographer serving the boating industry, it’s not uncommon that a project’s creativity and style gets controlled and molded by the needs and vision of the client. Therefore, as a mechanism to allow for my own personal creative expression and my on-going self-development, I try to do at least one ‘’test’ session or ‘personal’ project on a monthly basis. Often, an underlying goal across these personal projects is to include other artists that have a level of creativity and professionalism that will enhance the project’s overall outcome. Thus, my motivation for this session – it was an opportunity to collaborate with makeup artist Katie Callahan and model Katie Edwards, both of whom I find truly inspiring and a pleasure to work with.

The original inspiration for the session was derived from a “blow motion makeup technique” which was originally created by Alex Box, an internationally renowned artist who is known for redefining the role of creativity in makeup and beauty.  To create this look, Katie dispensed a tiny bit of liquid pigment onto the model and then with a straw, blew the pigment into the shape and direction she wanted it to flow.   In an attempt to maintain and accentuate as much of the blow motion technique’s detail as possible, I decided to use a Fujifilm GFX 50S as my camera of choice, and depending on the overall perspective of the particular shot (e.g. 3/4 or shoulder up), I mounted the GFX 50s with either a Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 lens or the GF 110mm f/2 lens.   Color accuracy also played a role in my camera choice and in my opinion; Fuji’s color is extraordinary and would lend itself nicely for this project.

The studio was equipped with a variety of Profoto monolights and light modifiers that included Profoto B10(s), B1x(s) and D2 heads, all mounted with either a 1×3 RFI soft box, 3’ RFI Octa or a 5’ RFI Octa.  All softboxes were mounted with grids to control the light spread.  The B10’s were the monolights of choice because they can be operated while they are plugged in to an AC outlet in order to maintain the battery charge, thus reducing the need to  swap out batteries.   Although it is not uncommon for me to favor using multiple lights (occasionally up to 6 at a time), the following image was taken with a single light placed frontal, slightly left, and overhead at approximately 45 degrees in order to minimize stray reflections in the piece of black plastic.  The plastic sheathing was an essential prop in order to produce the model’s reflection in camera, not as part of postproduction.

GFX 50S, GF63mm 1/30 @ f8 ISO100

As an alternate to the above image, I did a version that stripped out the color saturation as an effect.   Interestingly, the reaction to the two versions has been somewhat varied;  most creatives from the make up domain favor the saturated color version while many fellow photographers have favored the de-saturated look as depicted as follows…

GFX 50S, GF63mm 1/30 @ f8 ISO100

At the onset of the session, the team decided to ‘warm up’ by starting with a makeup look that would compliment and serve as the basis for the makeup technique used for the upper body images depicted above.  In my opinion, it’s very important that you discuss with your make up artist the feasibility of going in a logical progression in order to minimize the need to entirely remove one look before replacing it with another.  This usually helps to facilitate efficient use of time on set, especially when one look is used as the basis for the next.   Thus, Katie created the look below that would also be used as the basis for the makeup in the images above.   To light this shot, multiple B10’s were used in an attempt to emphasize both the eye make-up and the vintage yellow coat, both important elements of the photo.  Clam shell positioning for the frontal lighting and rear strip boxes for a subtle rim light.

GFX 50S, GF110mm 1/125 @ f10 ISO100

GFX 50S, GF110mm 1/125 @ f10 ISO100

In closing, I would like to cycle back to a statement that I made in my first paragraph — that an underlying goal across these personal projects is to include other team members that have a level of creativeness and professionalism that will enhance the project’s overall outcome. From my past experiences, the outcome of a session is only as good as the weakest link, and I’d like to extend a special thanks to Katie Edwards for her modeling and Katie Callahan for her inspirational makeup.  Working with the two of them made for a strong and enjoyable process.


Photographer: Paul Tortora @stillsandvideo www.stillsandvideo.com

Model: Katie Edwards @katieedwardsmodel

MUA: Katie Callahan @glambossmakeup

Assistant: Dalton Patton @dalton_patton_photography

Wardrobe: Famah Sells


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