ROBOGIRL: A collabo with Lauren Barker

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Waleed Shah

Waleed is a founding partner of White Cube Studios and an Official Fuji-X-Photographer. Waleed leads the video and photography at White Cube, as well as coordinating performances and placement opportunities for artists in the UAE.

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I stumbled upon Lauren Barker’s work about a year ago and ever since then I wished we could do something together. It wasn’t until recently that I felt comfortable with my skill set to really do her intricacy any justice. We met up at a coffee shop one day and threw around some ideas and landed on RoboGirl.

I had just finished editing my previous attempt at coloured lighting (What We Dream) and had learned a few things that I wanted to try differently. This time I would keep it simple by using flash gels on a speed light instead of coloured fluorescent lights. My setup consisted of the following:

  • 1 strobe with an 80cm octagon umbrella softbox
  • 1 speed light with a coloured gel
  • 1 reflector
  • Fujifilm X-T2
  • XF50-140mm f2.8 Lens
  • Fujifilm MCEX-16 Macro Extension Tube

Our champion model Emma Halliwell was very patient throughout the 3 hour makeup session while me and Kosher Abz set up all the lighting gear. As the the clock ticked and Lauren’s doodles started shaping up into a masterpiece I grew more and more nervous. “How the hell do I capture all of this,” I thought.

Deep breaths…

First, I needed to light up all of Emma’s face in order to really show of Lauren’s work. I decided to go with a loop lighting setup with the octabox slightly above Emma’s face and about 20 degrees off centre. I then added a reflector on the shadow side to fill it in so the overall look of the photo is quite soft. Next we experimented with different colour gels on the speed light directly behind Emma and shooting at the white wall to create a vignette with a colour cast. We decided an orange gel was the perfect contrast to the purple-ish make up. Awesome. Great results. Well, at least I was pretty happy.

Next, Lauren decided that black lipstick was the way to go. So I decided that to go low-key on the next few shots. Using the same gear we changed the setup around. Same loop lighting setup but with the octabox behind Emma this time, 20 degrees of centre. We change the flash gel to purple this time to create a coloured rim light on Emma. I had forgotten my snoot so we just made one out of tin foil. This is where I busted out the macro extension tube for the super close ups.

Lauren, Emma, Abz, Great work guys. Very proud of what we came up with. I hope this isn’t the last time we get together.

A Message from Lauren:

Inspired by another makeup artist’s creation, the artist played with geometric shapes that harmonized with a woman’s face. I loved the idea of depth that was somewhat industrial, so I took that into my makeup art for this project.

I printed out a few copies of a woman’s face straight on and started drawing lines and shapes over them, keeping the outlines symmetrical however the shading various to achieve more of a 3D look.

On the day of the shoot, after finishing the models base and brows I started drawing the structured lines. I used my rough design as a reference and I started the makeup freehand with a very light brown shade of eyeshadow. I mainly used small angle brushes as I needed to get the lines as precise as I could, slowly blending in different colors and shades.

After almost three hours of doing the makeup, stepping back and adding more I felt that it the piece was finished (however I could have kept going! :P) . Then I left it up to Waleed to start snapping.

It’s always very nerve wracking having to have another person capture your work, as the way a picture is taken can change the makeup a lot. However there is also an advantage if both the photographer and artist are open to try different techniques and ideas.

Thankfully at the end of the day after playing around with the lighting and changing the lip color at the end, Waleed was able to capture images that were unique from one another which is exactly what I was hoping for ! Hopefully we will collaborate again soon.

Photographer: Waleed Shah
Make Up: Lauren Barker (Elbii Marie)
Model: Emma Halliwell

 

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