Firstly, a huge thank you to Barbara for being so amazingly brave and courageous in allowing me to create this incredible portrait. It's definitely not easy to make the decision to be "exposed" in this way, and it's also a big deal to mentally and emotionally commit to the process. Barb was a true professional, and was so easy to work with! I am really pleased with the results, and I think it has really captured the essence of Barb's journey.
Before talking with Barbara to understand more about her “story” and how that would connect with her portrait, I had envisioned her as Venus in the Boticelli painting, and as you can see from the comparison images below, it’s a pretty good likeness!
The whole concept involved Barb not actually wearing much at all, but of course I wanted to ensure that she was completely comfortable with the amount of nudity presented in the final image. Just quietly, Barb didn't need too much encouragement, and I knew she trusted that the final image would be tasteful and artistic.
The theory around this painting is documented as portraying the birth of the goddess Venus as she emerges from the ocean onto the land. Venus is also described as the representation of divine love symbolising both physical and spiritual love. Venus is no ordinary goddess, and Barbara is no ordinary woman. Barb connected to this story as the birth symbolising re-birth, and it was intriguing to discover just how many parallels were drawn from her own life situation, and on many different levels. Barb’s full portrait story will be published as part of the portrait series, “Unearthly”, in 2016.
The lilies, which are a direct reference from the original painting, as Barbara’s mother’s favourite flowers, so it really made sense to incorporate these into the portrait.
Now for the clam shell. Below are the original photos. The shells were quite small. I combined a couple of shells together to recreate the final clam shell illusion.
It’s funny that Barb asked me if she would be standing on the clam shell for the photo shoot after seeing the background image below. She laughed when I explained how small the actual shell was. My illusion was nearly complete!
Below are some of the images that were used to compile the background image above.
Next was the much anticipated photo shoot day. I wanted Barbara to feel comfortable with the idea that she would probably not be wearing much at all. I made sure that we had a "modesty" cloth, as modelled by my daughter Portia, below. Just in case the nudity scenario was too confronting. However, it was not even used!
The day of the Photo shoot
I was so excited when Barbara showed up for the shoot, as I knew she was feeling a little apprehensive about the amount of clothing she would(not) be wearing! I am still in awe of her courage (although she does look fantastic, right?) to have agreed to the concept of the portrait in the first place!
Below are some of the behind the scenes photos on the day of the photo shoot.
(Above) Here is Barb, completely makeup free and looking gorgeous.
(Above) The lovely Eloise applying makeup to the lovely Barb at the lovely Jane's place.
(Above) This was about mid-way through the make up process.
(Above) Barb holds on to her security blanket. I think she is starting to get nervous :-)
(Above) Looking good Barb! And also feeling slightly nervous?
(Above) Here we are setting up for the shot. It was quite cold in the studio, so we had some heaters blasting.
Barb is mentally preparing to take the jacket off!
(Above) Here is Barb posing for the classic "Birth of Venus" shot. Yes, I have blurred out the shot.
You will have to use your imagination!
So the actual photo shoot was over in around 30 minutes.
Next (below), I photographed Barbs hair. There is a lot of it!
In fact it deserves a portrait of it's own.
(Above) Barb having a closer look at some of the shots.
And here are some before and after shots:
(Above) I can't tell the difference. :-)