I’ve taken many photos of my friend Massimo and his family and we had been talking for some weeks about doing something a bit different, creative and crazy. We had done one photoshoot earlier with a pineapple so I though I would take it a bit further and make multiple exposure photos by adding parts of him together with some fruit in a composite photo.
So we met up one day and I had my trunk full of gear, ready for anything. We ended up going to his place and looking at the paintings he had done of different pop-culture characters and his kids and I thought that this could be a great environmental portrait, showing him among the things that he is passionate about in his own work space, which was an upstairs corridor of an old farmhouse. I put him right by the window, arranger the paintings around him, chose a wide angle lens, all with the purpose of setting him up at the middle of the frame and to have every possible line in this corridor lead to him. Then I lit him up with a spotlight to highlight him and put a blue light at the back and get some incense smoke in the room in order to create a moody atmosphere. I dare to say, it worked out very well. He really pops out in the final photograph.
Once we got an environmental shot I was now really into capturing something more abstract and wild so I set up a black backdrop in another room and thought that I would take 3 different, low key pictures of his face, all of them a bit different. I made him look on one side and I would put a red light on his face so that only his face would be lit up and it would quickly fade into black. I did the same with blue light with him facing the other way and finally just normal light with him looking straight into the camera. Later on I took it into Photoshop and combined it into this three-headed thing, added some smoke with brushes and it turned out really freaky, yet fascinating. I have to say, it was challenging to mix the three together because the one with him facing straight was just white light and I needed to do all sorts of tricks to add some appearance of red and blue light leaking onto different sides of his face.
The final, last thing I wanted to try was along the lines of the original idea of combining Massimo with fruit but now the idea had evolved into something new. I wanted the object to mean something to him and tell a story instead of just being a random funny thing. So now that we already had a photograph of him as a painter, maybe I should use paint brushes. I took first a pic of him looking up into the distance and then I had him holding a handful of paint brushes with the same lighting and distance. Later on I went to Photoshop and thought what would be the best way of combining him and the paint brushes into one picture and immediately I thought of giving him hair using the brushes since he is bald. It ended up working really well. Then I added some effects and color grading and finally some paint splatter to bring it together.
I was very satisfied with this project because it was very playful and creative and it challenged me into trying out new ways of expressing creativity. I’m now getting more and more into Photoshop compositing. It opens up a whole new, basically unlimited world of creativity.