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Craig Fraser, Professional Photo magazine interview

One of the final images produced for the shoot

We were recently commissioned by one of our clients in the Cosmetics industry to create an exploding makeup image to be used globally across the brand - it took a long time to research and setup the various rigs in order to create the right look and feel to the image which had to be show-stopper to grab attention. Professional Photo the leading photography magazine wrote an article on how we created the final image which was written by Christian Hough which is available to buy in WHSmiths currently which describes in detail how we did it you can read the full article below and images from the shoot and behind the scenes.

Interview with Frasershot Studios founder Craig Fraser for Professional Photo magazine, by Christian Hough.

Christian Hough:  I love the dynamic in this shot Craig, what was it for?

CF: It was commission by a global beauty company who were advertising their products and needed a shot for the front cover of their brochure. They were fairly specific about what they needed; something with the feeling of movement from the powder on a stationary brush, however, the powder had to be a true representation of the consistency and texture of the original product.

Christian Hough:  So did you have creative freedom over the look and feel of the shot?

CF: The client had given me a few references with regards to background colours and the look and feel of the image. Personally, it is always preferable to meet with a client and sight visual references, such as tear-sheets and other images that the client has seen. This really helps me cement a strong foundation and understanding for what is needed on both sides.

Christian Hough:  Were there any technical challenges that you faced?

CF: There were several challenges on this shoot that made things complicated. The initial hurdle was how we actual propel the powder off the tip off the brush in a more controlled fashion, so that we were able to capture enough frames. We tried several methods of delivering air in bursts to make the powder burst from the brush, everything from blowing through a straw which was very difficult to rig, a bicycle pump which was too erratic, compressed air in a tin, too inconsistent. It was all a bit of trial and error, until we finally purchased a small air compressor used for painting, which could be controlled and positioned where it was needed. Once this was done, it was a case of working how much powder we needed to load up on the brush.

Christian Hough:  Did the powder and the compressed air give you issues with dust?

CF: It did, so we had to gaffer lots of bin liners over and around the equipment and the environment to protect them from the dust. In addition to this, although the amount of compressed air wasn't huge, it did mean that we needed to secure smaller items and lock the set down so neither the set or the brush moved between the frames. We needed to comp several of the images together during post processing, a range of powder and brush shots to facilitate a full and even burst of the powder on the finished shot. Basically, small movements would cause us more work during post processing which would ultimately add to the time and the cost.
As for the set, we actually had to design and build our own rig, which was needed for holding the brush in place, the delivery of the compressed air and to load the powder on the brush. Even loading the right amount of powder was crucial to creating the right burst. Too much and it would clump and look too heavy. Too little powder and the burst would look thin and uninteresting. A few plastic shaping tools from a local hobby shop were crucial to loading the powder on.

Christian Hough:  So how did you light it?

CF: I kept the lighting fairly simple and used only a two light set-up. Two Profoto B1 1500 heads, which have a sufficiently short flash duration to allow them to freeze the powder. I fitted the heads with two 2x3ft soft boxes, which acted almost like strip lights. I actually wanted to keep it simple and light it in a classic way, illuminating both sides evenly to give a crisp high end finish, so simply placed a light on either side of the brush, which was suspended in the air, so I could move the lighting and modifiers with ease around the product. This set worked with not only the powder, but the brush itself. However, we did have to be very mindful of the highlight, where the powder came close to the light. White powder and bright light can be difficult to control, which also meant that we had to control the light fall-off. I found that positioning a large white card in front and above the powder helped left the shadows and control the fall-off.

Christian Hough:  So how did you fire the shutter?

CF: It was merely a matter of timing. I actually prefer to control the shutter manually and the propelling of the powder. It only took a few practice shots to nail the technique. I simply set the shutter to 1/800sec to minimise any studio environmental light and relied on the short flash duration of the Profoto heads to freeze the motion.

Settings: f/11 at 1/800sec, ISO 100 at 120mm (medium format)