Getting out of your comfort zone is great for creativity. It not only gets the heart pumping but can also get the brain thinking.

I have been working with a new client, who is a fantastic creative herself and her brief was for ‘a riot of color’ for Mardi Gras costume pieces. My client also liked the idea of using paint. Initially, I said let me think on it, as the thought of throwing paint around in my studio was giving me heart palpitations.

The setup

The more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued by the idea. Plastic backed paper painters drop sheets could hold the paint and create a clean white background. They are also cheap and quite large. We used four 9-by-12 foot sheets doubled in thickness and also had a large white bedsheet hanging behind and a large plastic drop cloth underneath on the ground.

Removing everything from the studio that could be harmed during the shoot (clothes racks and props) and covered everything left with more drop cloths. Wrapped my speedlight (I usually use it as a rim light) in a plastic bag to keep it safe. For the main lights, I used two Bowen strobes, one with a 47.2-inch octabox and a 16.5-inch beauty dish, safely out of harm’s way.

The model

Let me just say here you need a model who has a sense of adventure, fun and doesn’t mind getting messy. My longtime friend and model Jess (Miss Fairy Floss), is just that kind of person. I thought of no one else for this job and she jumped at the chance.

Jess’ outfit was simple and we kept it cheap, so we weren’t concerned about the clothes being ruined. A simple white tank top and shorts. We ordered rainbow knee-high socks and suspenders to match our theme and a super cheap white wig (which was then thrown out, as it could not be saved!)

The paint

To keep things somewhat controlled we bought paint in squeeze bottles and tubes, which we could artfully ‘throw’ at Jess and the background while keeping it on the backdrops. These also become additional props in the shoot. We used only primary and secondary colors and used acrylic paint for cleanup and safety purposes.

The shoot

Luckily the day of the shoot was quite hot, so getting messy and then cleaning up was not an issue for the model. Indeed for the actual shoot, we had the air conditioning on.

We first shot all the headpieces against the plain white background and then added the paint. Then reshot the pieces, packed them up, added more paint and really let Jess have some fun getting messy.

The cleanup

All in all the cleanup did not take too long. Wrapping up the drop sheets and put in the rubbish. Jess hosed herself down in front of the studio to remove most of the paint and then showered and changed to get rid of the rest. The clothes were all soaked in cold water, but never came clean!

Behind the scenes

I put together a behind the scenes video on my YouTube channel for those who might be interested in a little sneak peek.

Tip: Want to know when you’re at the end of the shoot? When all the colors have blended together and turn brown!

This photoshoot was nowhere near as bad as I feared. It was loads of fun and we captured some amazing images. So getting out of my comfort zone was great — not only creatively, but it provided for a lot of fun.