In August of 2014 I received a wedding request that started off like any other meeting, except for one thing: this bride was booking me 8 months ahead, had her whole wedding planned out, and wanted something completely different.
After our initial meeting I got an idea of her style. At that moment I realised this is going to push me creatively and technically because the idea we came up with was a lil bit out of my comfort zone: let’s put everything on fire.
I was scouting for a location for a few days when I finally found this mystical burned down place. It was basically a big warehouse that burned down a few months before. The warehouse gave off a super abandoned vibe but had a je-ne-sais-quoi charm about it, so we decided to use it as the location for our shoot.
So now we jump to the part where the girl caught on fire… “Stop, drop and roll”, I yelled… Kidding, thank God that didn’t happen. I’m writing this blog to explain what actually happened behind-the-scenes of this photo shoot and how it was executed.
The first thing I have to say is, it’s not difficult at all. And if you’re new to this photography thing do not fear, I will try to explain it in as simple terms as possible. For you non-photographers out there, refer to Google.
Like for most other creative and crazy photo shoots, we started off by doing a thorough location scouting as priorly mentioned. The most important thing when creating an image, is knowing where you’re creating it. You want to tell a story with your image. Your location can make the world of a difference in wether or not it’s going to tell the story you want it to or not.
Once you have a location, it’s all about envisioning the final picture. You have to work with the final picture in mind, so I would advise you to draw out your initial idea before you start. I myself make rough sketches of my shoots before I execute them. Another tip is to always be open to adjusting your ideas once you’re shooting. Because an idea in your head might seem good initially, but something on the spot might just make it better.
After we had a rough image of what we wanted to photograph, we started with the actual process of execution. With a camera on a tripod, fixed focus and fixed position, we started taking multiple shots of the couple standing on the stairway. For variation, we changed the poses and expressions a few times. The models were lighted using a deep Octobox from the right side of my camera from a high angle. We used a CTO filter on the speedlight, to mimic the colour temperature of fire so that the couple would look like they were illuminated by the light of real fire.
When we were done with the poses, the fun and probably most dangerous part began. We started setting parts of the staircase on fire with liquid fuel. This was probably the best part of the whole shoot and most exhilarating. We lit different parts of the staircase one by one so that we could contain the fire incase something went out of hand.
So when all this was done, it was basically all about Photoshopping stuff together, in blend mode and masking layers to fit. You will realise that working with a tripod makes it a lot easier to photoshop shots like this later on.
As you may have noticed from my explanation, the shot itself was relatively easy and fun to execute. Think outside of the box but don’t limit yourself once you’re outside the box. Remember, it can look cool and difficult without being complicated.