Workshop: Conceptual Portraiture with Tatiana Lumiere

Tatiana showing us how to work with dry ice. The science nerd in me was so taken with the fact that she understood dry ice sublimates not melts.

This past week Maryland Professional Photographers Association had a class on Conceptual Portraiture with the wonderful artist Tatiana Lumiere.

I will generally jump at any chance to learn more about my craft and it’s especially gratifying to be in person with other photographers to collaborate with. We had a number of models who were coiffed, made-up and costumed by Tatiana and Geniia Elliott Makeup Artist as well as various sets and locations.

As I’ve spoken of before, I have relished the opportunity to take on more creative challenges that stretch both my technical skills and artistic vision. So, I was excited by this class. After looking at the kind of art that Tatiana creates, I knew I would be inspired by having an opportunity to see her work. This was definitely true and I look forward to finding other artists to collaborate with on future projects.

After some demonstration and discussion with Tatiana, we were broken into groups to have our time with the models at various locations around the carriage house where MDPPA meets.

My first stop was with Jamie in front of the fireplace as Tatiana had first worked with the dry ice. As much as I love the textures of the old wood and stone in the carriage house, I didn’t particularly love it with the outfit Jamie was wearing. When Tatiana shot it, there was a curtain of fog behind her and I think I would have liked that better. In post I really pushed the color on the leaves and warmed her to fit in better with the warm tones of the wall. I also added some blur to the background to help separate her. This is also notable as the only set that had artificial light (a large softbox on a studio strobe and a large reflector).

Next we shot with Dana. She was made up reminiscent of Xena: Warrior Princess or a Wildling from Game of Thrones. I felt that the textures of the exterior wall of the carriage house worked thematically. It was pretty much the perfect time of day for a natural light shot. The difference between direct sun and the shadows of the “tunnel” behind the carriage house really help her stand out in the shot.

Next we went back inside to work again with the dry ice and a set that Tatiana arranged. This time it was with Kelly. Clearly, Geniia and Tatiana were taking Kelly’s lovely red hair as inspiration. This was one of the stations where it was challenging to move around and we probably had too many people working it. Especially since we were up against the wall and shooting with natural light through the doorway (as you can see above when Jamie was in the pit of fog)

I ended up not getting too many shots from angles that I felt worked for me, but I was so taken with the overall look. I definitely like the dreamy feel of natural light and mist. That’s on my todo list for a future project.

Finally we got to spend a little time with Rylee. This is kind of cool, because it shows how great natural light can be at the right time of day (in this case, sunset). Soft and glowy without really any effort or technical savvy. I was going for a glamor look, so the post processing might be a little heavier than I normally would use.

All in all, it was a great experience. I picked up some new techniques and inspiration going forward. Which is what it is all about.