I recently had the fortune to be asked to do some modelling portfolio work for the young and beautiful Ryan Surtees. In addition to the standard poses I wanted to do something a little different as I had desire to play with fire. I had in mind the idea of ‘the tempter’, like the old images of Pan or the snake in the Garden of Eden, or possibly the MC in Cabaret (man he’s scary – he reminds me of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).
“I want you to hold a big ball of flames” is probably not what an aspiring model wants to hear. I’m pretty sure getting burned is high up there on most people’s list of concerns but for a model the worry must be double, but fair play to Ryan he did it and I am very pleased with the results from this part of the shoot.
Truth be told, the only problem was one that I should have foreseen but honestly didn’t. It wasn’t until I uploaded the photos and looked at them full size that I saw the effect that the very small and localised light source had had on his skin. Ryan’s skin is pretty close to perfect but in the light of the fireball every hair, follicle, and pore was exaggerated. Luckily it was Photoshop to the rescue and the problems were very quickly rectified. If I were to do this again I would put make up on the model’s skin to take down highlights and to limit the way the light picks out every tiny flaw.
When editing people’s skin I always try to change as little as possible because I believe in leaving people as close to how they actually look as I can. I dislike the over-produced, artificial and unobtainable beauty that is plastered all over the media and even though I can make people lose five stone instantly in a picture, I don’t think that I should. That 5 stone changes a way someone fundamentally appears, the minor improvement of skin tone however simply alters a few square centimeters.
A little bit of airbrushing is acceptable in my mind; Oliver Cromwell may have wanted his portrait ‘warts and all’, but I’ll bet if he had a zit on his nose the day of the sitting it wasn’t included on the final painting!
You can see more of my work at erikatanithphotography.co.uk