• Gareth Partington

What to do when a photography idea is hard to achieve?

This was the second project I worked on, with the make up artist Beth Gauntlet and the idea this time was to try and create a witch of the forest. Sometimes my ideas are far grander than I can pull off, as you will see in this post. When this happens and you can't achieve your goals, sometimes you just need to keep trying and see what you can do under pressure.


The original idea


The original idea was to create a very dark, haunting image about a witch who was in turmoil about who she was. I had seen these amazing paintings of a ghostly figure walking through the woods and wanted to do something similar.


Beth had made this amazing headdress out of twigs and wanted to use her airbrush to see if she could create some textures on the face of our model Juliana Ratcliff . I wanted to continue to see if I could light like a painting and create some dramatic images.


When it came to the shoot day, I think I had lost a little bit of my confidence in the idea and I really struggled to get in the right frame of mind, work out the lighting right and to direct Juliana correctly.


The shoot


I had this idea in my head I could clearly see but I could not seem to get the light to truly reflect what I wanted to do. I was also struggling to convey the kind of emotion, pose and situation I wanted the character to be in. I'm not sure if my introverted nature took over or I just had a crisis of confidence, but the start of the shoot wasn't going to plan.


We tried some flow posing, where the model moves ever so slightly from pose to pose but I could never seem to capture the right moment. I was feeling frustrated with myself as I was not able to create what was in my head.

The closet we got to getting towards a look and style I wanted was the above photo but I felt it was lacking in something. Juliana was so good at modelling but I was struggling to make the most of her talents.


A rethink in direction


As I was unable to bring my vision to life, we kept working on a series of poses looking for the ones which would work for the character Beth had created.

I think I finally found a pose I liked, the look Juliana was giving made her character feel very powerful and it showed off the amazing make up work Beth had done.


The styling and make up work Beth did was fantastic and when I realised the necklace was made from real teeth it sent a shudder down my spine. It's the small details which really help to bring a character to life.

I wanted to keep the look of the images warm and have the colour grading in a rich deep brown to reflect that this character had come from the woods. Juliana's piercing eyes really jumped out from the images.

I feel that the lighting was quite successful in this set of images but I feel I need to push myself further and move out on location if I want to tell compelling stories with photos.


Beth and Juliana did a fantastic job but on reflection I don't think I truly fulfilled my original idea with this set of images and it's something I'd like to return to.


Play to your strengths


As the shoot went on I felt I really needed to find something I was pleased with, so decided to do some head and shoulder shots.


This was my favourite photo from the set, the portrait really shows off the amazing work Beth did and I feel this is type of photo I am best at, intimate, close up portraits. You can feel the emotion on Juliana's face and I feel the lighting, editing and pose really helped to show off a vulnerability of the character.


Mixing it up a bit


We did a little bit of experimenting with a shot of Beth and Juliana together and again I feel the most successful image was this one where it was a more detailed intimate portrait.


This is where my strengths seem to lie when it comes to portraiture.


Behind the Scenes


I'll close out this blog entry with a few behind the scenes photos. As frustrated as I was with myself I still had a great time on this shoot and can't wait to work with Beth and Juliana again.


Have you ever been in a situation where you had a grand idea but couldn't quite pull it off? How did you adapt and change to make the most of the situation? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email as I'd love to hear how you coped.








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