In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at Mia Vixen.
Mia Vixen is a burlesque dancer based in Southern California, and early one October we decided to do a Halloween photo. She wanted to be in a tub filled with candy corn. This was many years ago and I was shooting medium format film, so we couldn’t fake it with Photoshop.
After spending an evening at the grocery store buying all the bags of candy corn we could find and went back to her place. She did her hair and makeup while we figured out how to set up the shot in the bathtub. The bathroom was white so I took one open faced 1000 watt light and banged it into the ceiling, flooding the room with a soft even fill. I didn’t want anything directly over the tub in case it might fall, and besides, I didn’t want to see my own shadow. I wanted a bit of modeling and texture so I added a very diffused soft light just to one side. If you look closely you can see both lights reflected in her eyes.
We had about two dozen bags and quickly realized you would need about ten times that. The tub was big! When Mia was ready she lay down in the tub and we added a few pillows and towels around her to take up some of the volume of the tub, then buried them with the candy corn. What you see is all candy corn, no digital manipulation was done to add them.
We shot two versions, one with her nude holding plastic pumpkin containers in front of her breasts, and another with candy corn stuck on her like pasties. In the behind the scenes still of me with my Mamiya camera you can see just how we did it. She modeled in several poses and later chose the best to print.
Since the image was first published we’ve seen many other models and photographers copy it, proving that Mia’s concept was as good as we expected. It’s one of those shots that we knew would be iconic.