Before I talk about this year’s image, I have to say something.
This one almost didn’t happen.
After weeks of planning and prepping all of the items necessary to complete this project, I had technically difficulties that almost shut the whole thing down the day of the shoot. I thought everything was going well. The weather was great, it was nice and cool. I had a list of tasks to complete. I was on time, everything looked in order and of course, I’ve done this before. I should have known it was too good to be true.
This year I made the gelatin masks that we wore for this shoot (photo below). I tested the air brush makeup. I gathered all of the supplies for makeup I had and I was ready to go.
Nothing wanted to cooperate.
The mask would not stay on Tyler. The airbrush got clogged over and over again. The video time lapse I was going to do kept failing. It was going downhill fast. This went on for almost two hours with other issues popping up as I went along. I was already behind schedule and I had no idea what I was going to do. I had set up our make shift studio in the garage and I would get up from my seat while putting the makeup on Tyler and walk into the house. I did this three times, once after each failed attempt and I could not clear my head and get a handle on what I was going to do. This was the only day to get this done.
It was my awesome wife that confronted me and reassured me that we could get this to work. She suggested a few ideas, but it was her confidence in me that made calm me down and come up with a new strategy.
Without her, this year’s portrait may not have come to life. Thank you dear, I love you.
So, on that note, on with this year’s Halloween Portrait - 10 years in the making.
That’s right, 10 years we have created a Halloween Family Portrait. It is a little crazy to see that it’s been that long. It didn’t start off as a portrait, it was actually a Halloween Party Invitation for the first couple of years and then just got out of control after that.
We used old clothes (that would have been donated) for the outfits this year. I destroyed them with knives, sandpaper, a dremel, scissors. I hung them up outside and sprayed them with a water and instant coffee mixture in a spray bottle. I also rubbed them with a curry / flour mixture which gave them a good dusty / dirty look.
Below you can see the materials I used to make the gelatin mask for each of us. It required making a version of the mask in clay on the mannequin head. Then making a plaster mold of the mask. Melt the gelatin material (homemade) into the plaster mold and let it set. When you remove it, you have a safe, quite strong copy of the clay mask you made. It’s all ready to be applied to your subject’s face. It was made from of recipe of gelatin (250 bloom), sorbitol (a polyhydric alcohol with about half the sweetness of sucrose) and glycerin. It was quite fun to work with, but it did stink when you were heating it and mixing it. The smell went away when it cooled to room temperature. I used a good quality air brush paint for the faces, neck, chest and arm areas. It worked very well, but I think for three people I could have used a little more.
I learn something new every time I do these portraits, which, is one of the reasons I do it. I would do lot of things different if I did this style of shoot again, but overall, it was a great experience.
Sometimes I think it’s time to stop doing the photos. It gets harder and harder each year. Ok…that is mainly my fault. I am glad people enjoy the photos. They are always difficult to complete, but it is satisfying to challenge myself each year with different techniques in photography and in photoshop.
Tyler goes to college next year and with all of the things that went wrong this year I’m not sure if we will be able to pull off another Halloween Family Portrait.
….but you know I’m going try.
Hey! Did you read all the way through or did you just scroll down to see all of the photos? Either way, I have a question. Are you a zombie movie / TV fan? If so, can you spot all of the iconic items in the main zombie photo? There are five items from famous movies and TV shows (well, one TV show) Let me know if you can spot them all. Happy Halloween!