Building Photo Sets On A Budget: UltraViolet For Factice Magazine
Hey FashionPhotographyBlog.com readers,
When shooting “UltraViolet” for Factice Magazine, Amelia and I teamed up again. This shoot grew out of the desire to shoot with backlights. When you think UV, you think futurism. So we decided to run with it!
We didn’t want to be cliché and bring in chromes and other metallics to a futurism shoot. Instead we decided to go a minimalism route and build larger than life shapes. Now that Amelia and I had a grip on how to manipulate paper, we wanted to do something more complex. After figuring out that Savage Super White paper glows in the dark, we knew that it was game on!
– 3 x Rolls of Savage 53″ Super White Seamless Paper – $25 each
– 3 x Sonotubes – $8 each
– 1 x 4″ x 8″ Piece of Plywood – $26
– 6 x 2″ x 4″ x 8″ Planks of Wood – $6 each
– 36 x Square Wooden Dowels – $1 each
– 1 x Hot Glue Gun + Glue Sticks – $22
– 1 x Roll of Fishing Wire – $5
– 3 x 36″ Pure White Beach Balls – $7 each
On a mission to hunt down sonotubes (in order to build cylinders), Amelia and I found ourselves at a Home Depot in Queens. It’s here where we ran into a contractor that took pity on our attempts to figure out how to construct a big triangle that can hold the weight of a person. He agreed to come over the next day and build one for us (for free!) so we bought all of the materials needed right then and there. Not the brightest of ideas, as we had to carry our haul back to Manhattan. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Carried all this home on the Subway. Fun times.
First we had the contractor construct a triangle/ramp type shape which was sturdy enough to support a person. First we tried to paint the ramp but found that the white paint didn’t glow. Fail. So instead we covered it with seamless paper on all sides.
To create cubes, we glued together wooden dowels to create the skeleton of a cube. We then cut the paper to fit each side and fixed the paper to the skeleton. Easy peasy… But VERY fragile.
Hunt down some gigantic white beach balls, rush order, almost die trying to inflate by mouth, then convince the local bike shop to inflate them. If only all the shapes were this easy.
Using the sonotubes as a base, Amelia and I would wrap paper around the sonotube, tape the ends then slide it off. Repeat 16 times using varying paper lengths. Then we traced the top of the tube and created 16 lids to glue on to the top of the cylinders.
All of our props were built in my apartment then carried to set.
Using fishing wire, strategically hidden photo assistants and light stands, we were able to get everything to stand upright or appear as if it were floating.
Testing light with my assistants
The most difficult part of this editorial was nailing the lighting! If anyone has tried to balance black light, strobe (white light) and blue gels before, you would know this is no easy feat! The black lights were VERY easily overpowered or the effect was significantly dulled down depending on how it was balanced with the strobe.
The tiniest of adjustments and the shot would be ruined. It took three lighting tests for my assistants and I to totally nail what we were doing and feel confident bringing it on set. If you’re trying something new, ALWAYS TEST YOUR LIGHT. No one wants to show up on set and look like a fool.
Don’t be afraid of building a set. It’s not nearly as difficult or expensive as you may think. Just get creative and think outside of the box; source unusual materials and you’ll pull together something amazing. Make your work stand out. As best put by Jeff Bark, “If I create an environment that’s only mine, then it’s my picture“.
You are only limited to what is in your imagination! Hope you enjoyed my suggestions for using paper to create budget-friendly photo sets. If you liked this concept check out my post for another breakdown of a shoot I did on a budget using paper (if you haven’t seen it already). I look forward to catching up with you again.
Until next time –
Feature image and images 1-7: courtesy of Alana Tyler Slutsky