Earlier this year I got to photograph Jen Chae of the From Head To Toe YouTube beauty channel for a social media collaboration with Marc Jacobs Beauty. Jen’s a sweet girl from Kansas who teaches people how to do their makeup, empowers them to feel comfortable in the their own skin, starred in a Wong Fu web series with AT&T, and just hit a million subscribers. K, the girl is a powerhouse.
Direction wise the shoot was pretty straightforward. Jen’s lipstick on a vanity. Jen putting on lipstick. Then –you guessed it! Jen wearing lipstick! I wanted to add a subtle glam pop to these simple images adding cinematic/film elements. I attached my old Helios 58/2 to a Sony A7s to achieve this effect. I mean just look at how this stunning red shade of lipstick looks against the Helios’s old school grainy, bokeh.
One note about photographing with older lens, I’d say about 99.9% of the time they don’t have an af motor in them. Thus you’ll have to take your time and manual focus all your shots. I like that aspect though. It reinforces the idea of creating the shot beforehand rather than spraying and praying you have the shot.
When Jen and I ventured out to look for ambient city lights for as a background… we discovered that Los Angeles likes to turn off its lights after the winter holidays. Around Christmas the streets are often decorated from head to toe (har har see what I did there?) with colorful lights and tinsel. Unfortunately everything was taken down when we were there. Luckily I still had my prism from my last shoot still on me.
I ended up using a prism to reflect lights for nearby buildings directly into my lens to vignette the already lovely Jen with a cascade of rainbow-y foreground bokeh. For the prism effect all you have to do is hold up a glass prism in front of your camera’s lens and then rotate it to get the desired effect.
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