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In white | Thoughts and behind the scenes

May 2011 // Categorised in: ,

I’m frequently asked about the process that I usually make when I take a picture. How I get the idea, where I’ve met the model, how I’ve lit… My mother also asks me when I’m going to remove all that “sticks” (tripods in my mother’s language) out of the corridor and why I’m making such a mess for just one picture. Ok, leaving on a side my mom’s questions, this post tries to answer all the other questions using my last photograph:

Gonzaga Manso | Blog - In white

I was finishing the post production of my last series when Hanna (the model) wrote me through Modelmayhem (if you do not know it, it’s a great website where you can find models, makeup artists, photographers…). She told me that she had a few free days in Madrid and she would like to have a photo-shoot with me. A quick view of her profile made me sure I wanted to photograph her.
Hanna is a finnish model with an amazing look, she had a very special beauty. I answered that it would be great to have a session, and that I was going to think an idea for her. I took a deep look at her pictures to see which expressions worked the best with her face, which kind of hairstyles may fit in her look, what does her eyes transmit….all that information is very useful when you want to think of a concept for a specific model.

Having in mind all of that I started to imagine the photo. Inspirations never comes in the same way, but they usually are certain things that help me, like listening to music, playing sports or chating with some friends. Inspiration is a very interesting subject so I think it deserves a whole post for it. Ok, back to the picture, the idea that comes to me was related to protection, maternal instinct, the fear of losing something important and the impotence you feel when you can’t do anything to avoid it. From the very beginning I knew I wanted to tell this story in a very visual and clear way.

The aesthetic of my pictures has the same value than the concept. It’s very important for me to create pictures with a powerful visual impact. I wanted the model painted all white in a white room. I just wanted color in her eyes and a little bit of flesh tone in some parts of her body (i.e inside her mouth).
She would have her arms full of white eggs that will have a strong symbolic meaning, being like the sons she must protect. Those eggs are fragile, so they intensify the fact that they need protection.
I wanted a very strong makeup in her eyes to highlight them and to give her a subtle birdish look. She looks like a bird not only for the makeup but for of the eggs, because if we take the eggs out maintaining the eye makeup, you could never say she look’s like a bird!! It’s an example of how every element in a picture supports the others to build the final meaning and aesthetic. It’s important to have all the elements working in the same direction and in a coherent way.

Speaking of lighting, it was very clear for me that the picture would need soft and surrounding light, barely without shadows but marking the light’s direction.

With all those thoughts in my head I spoke to Hanna and, even I didn’t told her everything because I like to keep the session open, she liked it. Then I was able to prepare the photo. You can see the preparation, the makeup and the lighting setup in a little behind the scenes video. Hope you like it.

If you have any questions about the photo or the session you can do it on comments.


Photo: Gonzaga Manso
Model: Hanna Toivakka
Countless thanks to: Inés de León
Makeup: Laura Curiel Fernández