This was a photoshoot with a difference. The beautiful Marie Jean Taylor had been covered in gold coloured body paint by talented make-up artist Dorota MUA. The paint had an almost mirror-like reflectivity, so, depending on the lighting angle, it tended to turn cheekbones, forehead, shoulders, etc, into specular highlights. This – and the fact that everything bar Marie Jean’s eyeballs appeared to made out of gold – gave a unique look to the pictures.

The shoot was arranged by York Photo Studio as a group shoot, with 6 photographers sharing the model for 3 hours. In practise this meant that studio owner Kevin set up the lighting, and then we photographers took turns taking pictures. When nobody wanted more pictures, Kevin changed the lighting, andwe took pictures again. As there were 6 of us, and a little time was spent on changing the lighting in between sets, we each had on average 25 minutes actual shooting time. On reflection I would have preferred an hour of 1-to-1 time, even if it might not have given me more shooting time (one benefit of a group shoot is that lighting setup time is shared between the photographers, so there is a definite time saving that way). But the only available slot for that coincided with Abby’s 30th birthday meal which, obviously, took preference.

So what did I learn? In no particular order…

  • I showed up without pre-conceived ideas of what type of photos I wanted to get out of it. This was because I’ve never attended a full body paint shoot before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but looking through the pictures afterwards I can see it would have been beneficial if I had had at least a cursory plan.
  • The second light setup was cross lighting from two gridded striplights (as for instance in the large picture at the top of this post), so the light changed dramatically if Marie Jean moved just a step forward or backward. I didn’t make full use of the pre-view on the back of my camera to judget the pictures regularly, and when I looked at the final shots at home I found many had been underexposed.
  • Related to the previous point, I tended to fire off a relatively fast series of pictures, and then move out of the way to give the next photographer his or her turn. I think I would have benefitted from slowing down a little and try to get fewer – but more considered – pictures.

Lessons learnt tend to focus on the negative (as that’s where there is room for improvement!), but the shoot itself was a definite success. I had a great time, and came away with some very “unique” pictures. It was fun, and Maria Jean, Dorota and not least Kevin were great organisers, and the group was a friendly bunch. I am keeping an eye on the studio’s facebook page and look forward to attend another shoot there in the not-too-distant future.