Alex Vang black & white & beautiful

session stories

Alex is my muse. She and I have collaborated many times to create amazing art for nearly four years. When she contacted me recently, with a spare window of time in which to shoot, I couldn't resist.

embracing the girl in gray ?
Alex — a previous shoot

The last time Alex and I created together, we were lost in the white and bathed in the light. The image above reveals a winter woman of pale frosted beauty with startling green eyes. This time, however, we were looking for a different path to explore. The trail we eventually followed led through subdued caverns of shadow with scattered slashes of soft twilight.

when Alex reached out to me

This time we both wanted to do something a little different — for both of us. Alex said she needed some black and white work with a little drama in her modeling portfolio. I needed desperately to exercise my craft. After scattered discussions, we decided to shoot in black and white — cradle to grave. Even though the raw image captures are converted to color upon import, we worked with the camera set to black and white, limiting our previews to monochrome, and guiding our emotions and creativity through the session.

proof of concept
The first image chosen. These three images show the progression from the original raw capture, processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the subsequent black and white conversion, and the finishing retouches.
Simplified light

In addition to simplifying our color palette, we simplified the light to increase our moody desire. Most shots are lit with a single Einstein 640 in a Chimera medium softbox. On occasion, we would add second Einstein as a hairlight to extricate Alex from the muted background. To increase Alex's pupil size, and expose those gorgeous eyes, we added a third Einstein aimed into her eyes with only modeling light — no strobe. The series was shot with a Canon 5D MK II camera and a 70-200 F2.8L IS lens.

tight • close • intimate

We wanted subdued emotion and close proximity with this session. We worked tightly — for the most part. Alex brought subtle, expressive feeling from the shadows while I simply ensnared the light she shared. These is something intensely intimate about working a beautiful model at the closer limit of your lens. Conversations are quiet. Nuances are powerful. We became dance partners with light as our accompaniment in a vast twilit ballroom.

Rikk's Selections
Rikk's favs From the shoot — finished product
& derivative works from the session

One of the shots from my selections was ripe for compositing. We had used some turns to make Alex's hair come alive. The next step was finding a scene that complemented the pose, motion and mood. I ressurected this forest path shot from the Poas volcano in Costa Rica that begged to be included in some future work. With a little tuning, it became a fitting backdrop.

Fine Art

Additionally, in the sample imagery Alex sent while preparing the concept, she sent me an image with this cool negative/positive effect. We had to at least try it. The finished image is shown below.

by model's request
Alex's Selections
Alex's favs from the shoot — finished product

I am always intrigued by the different preferences a muse and her artist have for the finished canvases. Rare is the image which enthralls us both completely. Often, no common love is expressed as our separate visions of the creative intertwining is pared to the simple few that call to us most.

in retrospect

Looking back on our effort gives an additional sense of clarity on the work we've created. The work was satisfying and the results exceeded my expectations. Through the lens, every capture glittered like gold and, in the reflection of time spent since and finishing applied to the image set, retained its luster. My only regret was not to bring in a hair stylist to tame some of Alex's strays — it might have saved me some retouching…

I am already looking forward to our next shoot — however it manifests.
© Rikk Flohr 2015
Created By
Rikk Flohr


All images © Rikk Flohr Image processed in Lightroom and Lightroom mobile

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