Client: Personal Project & Time for Print
Summary: A local actor and model, Arron Patterson, and I had been wanting to get together to do a photo shoot. He threw several ideas and concepts at me, one of which was a Spartacus-themed photo shoot. Through thorough planning and execution, we were able to create some really great images.
Once we settled on a Spartacus themed photo shoot it was time to start pulling together some comps. Most of our inspiration came from images from the Spartacus series from Starz Entertainment. So we set out to try and figure out how to best pull it together with a minimal budget.
Planning & Production
The main elements that we had to pull together were the location or background, the costume, and special effects makeup. I preferred to do the project at a Roman-looking location, but was challenged with finding something that would look authentic. Fortunately, Holiday Park here in Indianapolis, IN, has an area called The Ruins, and it had columns that I thought would make a great location. However, we wouldn't be able to shoot there, due to construction going on at the site. So, one morning I captured some nice sunrise photos that I could use as a background plate for a composite image. I also had an image of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN that also made a great background image. Since I wasn't going to be able to shoot on location I opted to shoot in studio on a grey seamless.
Next I had to start finding a costume. I thought I'd be able to find a costume rental shop, and I did, one with some great costumes, but unfortunately they were unresponsive and impossible to connect with. I found some amazing costumes on Etsy, but purchasing the pieces I needed would have been way over my budget. Therefore, what I decided to do was piece together some much cheaper costume pieces, do a little extra work on them, and hopefully put together something that looked relatively realistic, for much cheaper.
The last piece of the puzzle was special effects makeup. I was fortunate enough to find Paige Nicole Pannell, a makeup artist here in Indianapolis, who had some great training and experience in special effects. She was available for this project, so it looked like everything was coming together.
I'm not going to lie. Shoot day was a very hot day! And, due to circumstances beyond my control, we couldn't shoot indoors, so we had to shoot in my garage. The fortunate side of that, is that the hot and sweaty nature of the day actually helped to add some realism to our Spartacus. Arron's wife was able to join us to help with the costume, and Paige did an amazing job on the makeup.
I shot my Nikon D610, with three Paul C Buff Einstein E640s strobes: one in an octobox, and two in strip boxes. I shot against a grey seamless, and used a silver bounce reflector. Oh, and we had a fan, just to keep things a little bit cooler. Nonetheless, we were all sweating.
Arron went through a number of poses, jumping, running, wielding swords, ... we had an absolute blast. And of course the blood, cuts, and scars that Paige put on Arron were very, very cool.
As with any creative photo composite, making the talent blend in with the background images is the key to making it look realistic: matching color, contrast, lighting and tone are all critical. I used background images of columns that would also show directional light, and that would play well with my in studio lighting setup. Cutting out the talent from the grey background takes a little time and effort--at least to do it right, so that it looks clean and natural. Then I did a lot with dodging and burning to bring out definition and contrast. I tried to add the right amount of contrast to really make the image pop.
Overall I'm very pleased with the results. They have the look and intensity that I was gunning for, and considering how we really had to cut corners with costume, I think the images turned out really good. You be the judge. We also had a really good time on set, creating these images and bringing the whole concept to life.