I’ve been doing concept shoots for over a decade now. To make a concept shoot work, it requires a lot of preplanning: you have to have a full vision and then put the technical, lighting, props, models, and makeup pieces together following that vision.
My vision for this concept was to give the story after the story – what happened once the boy Kai was retrieved by Gerda and the Snow Queen was left with her loneliness again. I sketched out a quick drawing of the Snow Queen bent over the goblin mirror, seeing the Summer and Kai’s house where he had returned.
This is the final:
I first put out a casting call for a model and makeup artist (MUA)/hair stylist on my blog/facebook pages. I put in the posts that it was a TFP (trade time for portfolio – we each donate time to create a concept). The model knew of a MUA who could do the hair/makeup for us. As with all TFP for me, we own 1/3 of the image. That means, if someone wishes to sell the image, the other two must agree to the usage and we split the proceeds 3 ways. That’s how I work with models and I feel it is fair since we are all putting work into the image.
My instructions to the makeup artist in advance was that I wished for two bun-like horns for the hair and very pale makeup, not too much or too heavy, pale lips. I wanted to get away from the dark blue lips and eyeshadow cliche for this type of shoot.
Meanwhile, I assembled the props. I found a really bad looking homemade decorative plate at the local thrift store. I was going to give her a crow – seen in this image. But then decided that with the horns, it would be a bit too ‘maleficent’.
For the dress, I dug into my vintage clothing collection and pulled out a 1960s sheath dress with overdress. I also found a beautiful blanket at the thrift store that I decided to use as a ‘cloak’. I chose not to sew it and left it flat. I knew it advance I’d have to change the tonality of the blanket to go from warm colors to cool.
Meanwhile, I bought icicle ornaments and a cheap children’s headpiece. Using pipe cleaner (didn’t have wire at the time), I strung the icicles into the headpiece to make a crown. I then put that behind a David’s Bridal tiara I had bought used to give it a bit more bling.
On the day of the shoot, I made a high key set up to mimic the snowy environment, put down quilt batting so the model would ‘sink’ into the floor a bit. Makeup/hair took about 2 hours and then we were ready to shoot.
Hair and make up in the kitchen of my studio, Veera Lehtonen and MUA Nina Laitala:
Set up for the high key was two barn door ab400s blowing out the backdrop, an Einstein main light with a Westcott parabolic umbrella, and then an AB800 with a softbox for fill. Triggered by a pocket wizard PIII on camera and a Pocket Wizard MC3 in the Einstein. The rest of the lights triggered optically.
I instructed the model on the concept and how I needed her to look sad and lonely. I didn’t want evil for the Snow Queen – more of a tragic figure. For that reason, I had her sitting in the ‘snow’.
I shot both high and low key so I can make the most of the time of my model and MUA – and I also did some clamshell beauty lighting for their portfolios. Here is the final shot I chose for my concept:
In post, I removed some of the icicles and then did a hue/sat shift to change all the warm colors to cool. I added two textures and then did a pseudo-HDR on them to create a more painterly texture. I smoothed skin and did some liquify in area of the face and model. I also pumped up the midtones to really brighten the image. I added a snowy backdrop and inserted a picture of a warm Summer day to show that she was wishing for her prince who was returned to his Summer home.