FMD#5

Photoshoot for Fannie Mae Duncan sketches

I have worked on some rough sketches and ideas for the portrait bust as well as the maquettes for the sculpture and  it is time to get some reference material to work from based on those ideas.  Now that the rotating model stand and neutral backdrop are made I brought in a model to take a series of photographs and lots of measurements - these are invaluable in assisting the design, movement and proportions of the work. Gwen was my model and as she is a bit over an inch taller than Fannie Mae, I will take all my measurements and reduce them accordingly to get to Fannie Mae’s approximate measurements and height. Gwen has her hair pulled back and is wearing simple form-fitting yoga clothes which make it easy to see the forms and anatomical landmarks as I’m working out the poses. The rotating stand worked perfectly and allowed my assistant, Marci, to rotate the stand 15 degrees between shots while Gwen maintained the same pose. This allowed me to take a large volume of photos from all angles to work from.

Photoshoot for Fannie Mae Duncan sketches

In addition to taking the photos from a neutral, straight-on position, it is necessary to also get reference from both above and below the subject. Unlike a painting, where you are looking at a work from only one point of view, a sculpture is viewed from every angle. Therefore it is important to have reference from every angle. I climbed a ladder to shoot down on Gwen and then crouched on the floor to shoot upwards, all while Marci moved the rotating platform 15 degrees at a time. I must admit that this is where digital cameras really come in handy. When I first began my career SLR cameras used film and most of the time submissions to art shows, competitions or commissions required that you submit a series of photos in the form of Ectrachome Slide Transparencies. They were expensive and very time consuming. First you set up and took your photos doing your best with the settings on the camera but without the benefit of seeing an example of the image on your LED screen. You bracketed your shots meaning that you took what should be the correct exposure and then over and under exposed the shot for good measure.

Then you had to take the film out of the camera, drive it to the photo store and they would mail it off to a processing lab and it could take 1-2 weeks to get your slides back. If the slides didn’t come out perfectly you were out weeks of work and waiting, along with the money and were forced to set up and take photos all over again. 

The ease and practicality of digital means that I can see as I’m working if a photo is properly exposed and simply delete the bad ones. At the end of the day I have many dozes of photos ready for my work - starting with studying the poses to prepare for building the armatures next.

Photoshoot for Fannie Mae Duncan sketches

Gwen takes a break from the rotating platform to hang out with Stan, my studio companion and anatomical skeleton. With my photos complete for this stage I can now begin working on the portrait and loose maquettes to refine the pose ideas. Once I have completed all that work Gwen will be coming back for a more involved photoshoot using the actual period clothing for added reference details.


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