Here’s the anatomy of another collaboration with Laura…
She created a “money forest” in her studio, and it was truly spectacular. It was my job to photograph it, so I really wanted to do it justice.
The lighting was tricky in this one. We wanted to create a magical or mystical mood. I imagined it almost like a fairy tale. With all the dangling threads and fibres, I knew that the best way to do this was to backlight it heavily. At the same time, I wanted her skin to appear porcelain and pure, so it required some good fill light too. To create this affect, I used three strobes. One was positioned high in her loft above and behind the set. I pointed it at the white ceiling to give a sort of “overcast” light that would fill the entire scene, but mostly from behind. The second strobe was positioned behind and above to the left of the frame. I used a white brolly-box to cast soft light in all directions. It provided a halo-type backlight to Laura, and also lit up the hanging strands of wool and made them glow. The third and final strobe provided a main light to spotlight the figure. I put a brolly-box on that light too, to soften it and prevent any hard shadows from the money tree branches. This light was positioned above and to the right of the frame, slightly ahead of Laura. It was pointed down towards her face. This way it would cast some flattering shadows from front to back. As usual, I like to light female faces directly from the front.
To create the impression of depth in the photo, we positioned hanging strands of wool in front and behind Laura. I shot at f2.8 around 70mm. We attached money in layers at different distances from the camera, so the shallow depth of field would imply the distances, and create a three-dimensional flow through the image.
So there you go. Money forest. I have planted a $5 bill to see if it I can grow my own now.