When I first came to Pittsburgh I placed a casting call to do a couple of TPF sessions. One of the people that responded to the call was a young lady named Carly. During our conversation, Carly mentioned that she had some costumes she really wanted to have images wearing. She informed me that her costumes were custom-made and not the cheap Halloween costumes. So we set up a session for her costumes.
The day of the session arrived and Carly brought four costumes and her fiancé as an escort. Carly had asked me during our initial planning about bringing an escort. I know many photographers don’t like escorts coming with the model. But, I have no problems with new clients/models having an escort. I actually encourage them to bring a friend. Besides, escorts usually make good assistance for holding reflectors and moving equipment.
One of the costumes Carly brought was a vampire set with very real-looking teeth. I was aware she was bringing a goth costume, I just didn’t know it was a really cool-looking vampire costume. We saved the vampire costume for last because I wanted to change the studio setup to really give the proper feel to the costume.
The vision in my head of what a vampire looks like goes back to my childhood. During the ’60s there was a soap opera, “Dark Shadows.” The main character on the show was a vampire named Barnabus Collins. Barnabus and the other vampires have always been the way vampires should look and act in my perception. These vampires looked human and comfortably interacted with humans, unlike most other vampire characters Hollywood filmmakers came up with.
For lighting, I wanted to do the typical Hollywood ghoul lighting, but still have a glamorous vibe. Our main light was low and center of her, with an accent light on each side for separation from the black background. The underneath lighting is the opposite of what our eyes and brains usually perceive which adds to the sense of gore. Shadows move up the face and areas we normally see shadows are light and this helps in confession our brains perceive.
Once we had the images captured, there were things in the post-editing I wanted to do to keep the theme dark and mysterious. Some of the edits were to take out the warmth in the skin tones. Vampires are the living dead, so I thought cooler skin tones would bring that out more. I also desaturated the skin as well since the dead do not have blood flowing through their veins the skin would be pale and lack color. Carly’s eyes are a beautiful blue/grey as you see in the first picture of the gallery. For the vampire images, I changed the color to brown and really went overboard with sharpening and processing the eyes. I felt the eyes should be piercing so much so that they stare right through you.
Finally, since she brought her fiancé I got him into the act. Here are a few of the images we created with one to show Carly without the post-processing done to the images. We hope you enjoy them and maybe inspire you to try something different.