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  • Writer's pictureGareth Partington

The Photography Bar Competition - Part Two

The second theme for "The Photography Bar Podcast" had been revealed and this time it was to produce a self portrait. My initial thoughts were too groan a little and think perhaps I had created enough self portraits, but the more I thought about it the more I thought I could do this.

I had never really been happy with the self portrait I created of myself when I was experimenting with the apocalyptic images. In the current climate I thought perhaps an apocalyptic style self portrait would be perfect.

Becoming your own make up artist

I had previously brought all the theatre make up I needed and fake congealed blood so I had an idea where to begin. The last time I did this I watched quite a few youtube videos about applying make up and creating a grimey, dirty look but I decided to go back, refresh what I had learnt and see if I could find a few more instructions.

It's quite good fun been let free with a pot of fake blood but I wanted to keep it subtle and make it look as though my character had been down on his luck and in hard times. I deliberately didn't have a shave for a few days in prep for this photo and wanted my hair to have a very greasy matted look. To achieve the hair was super easy and just required lots of hair conditioner to be put in it.

The rougher I looked, the better in my opinion. I do think I could have used my bruise wheel to create more tones under the eyes but this is only the second time I have ever applied make up so it's all a learning experience.

The lighting

The light set up was going to be similar to how I created the images before, so the lounge was turned into a studio

The light set up up had an octagon to camera right, a gridded beauty dish to act a s rim light and a white reflector to help fill in the shadows. You can see the set up above.

You can see in the above video I was really struggling to work out how to get the rim light and shadows to look right. I did a lot of faffing and called for my fiancé to come step in for a few moments as I tried to figure this out. It is amazing how moving a light by two or three degrees can make a big difference.

The final photo

There were a lot of attempts at trying to capture the right expression for my character, which I won't share, but I really wanted there to be a narrative to what was happening.

Covid 2020 is in full force and the news was so depressing, it was like a torrent of depression each day. I decided my character would have just battled through the worst possible conditions of a zombie apocalypse or fought his way to safety only to then see something so incompressible and bad that he was about to just give up.

I wanted to be looking out of frame so you couldn't see what I was looking at. To get the tear rolling down my face so was hard. I stared intently off into the distance not blinking until my eyes became so sore they started to fill with water. It was shear luck I managed to capture the tear rolling down just one cheek.

I do think the self portrait was a bit improvement over the last time I tired to create such an image. The portrait of Emma in the same situation is still one my favourite photos and it was quite difficult to go back and try and recreate the same colour grading I did when I first made these kind of photos.

How would you have approached the theme of a self portrait in such times? Would you have done something differently to what I did or did you in fact enter the competition as well? If so let me know in the comments or via email or direct message.

Just to finish off here are two photos of my puppy photo bombing the shoot and wondering what on earth has happened to my face.


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