In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at 2008's Miss Exotic World Erochica Bamboo.
This is one of my favorite portraits, of Miss Exotic World 2003, Erochica Bamboo. The simple costume of feathers, pearls and black velvet gloves accented by giant false eyelashes and stylized makeup conveys a sense of timeless beauty that I associate with Miss Bamboo in real life.
We had spent a whole evening doing various costume and makeup changes, varying the backgrounds, poses and lightings for each image. For this one I chose to shoot her from the waist up with glamour lighting like an old Hollywood publicity still. I wanted to accentuate not just her face, but the pasties, pearl necklace and matching earrings that all added to the allure and elegance of Miss Bamboo.
My key light was to the left of the camera and a bit high, I asked her to turn her face right into it, keeping the front of her face free of shadow except for her cheeks, while allowing light to hit her earring. She curved her shoulders and the light raked across her body, streaking across her arms and cleavage and allowing her necklace to shine. I placed a second, softer light behind her to light the top of her camera-right shoulder. Bouncing off the floor it provided a soft glow on the shadowed side of her breasts, neck and chin.
I was very happy with the result, a kind of film-noir image that was moody with a lot of contrast, but I didn’t want hair to disappear into the darkness behind her. Rather than light her hair with a strong backlight, which is one way to get good separation of the subject from the background, I chose instead to light the backdrop itself. The backdrop was dark grey, and I spotted a light very tight into it in the space above her shoulder.
I shot this image with color film, exposing it so that her face was about two stops over my key, which gave me amazing skin tones on her body and making all the pearls glow. The background ranged from near white wear the spot was most intense to dark grey on the edges of frame, with a full range of tones between. She gave a beautiful smile and looked right up into her light, just like many of those old movie star glamour shots. Her charisma in this image and the charm in her face is so overpowering that the fact that she is wearing little more than pasties is almost overlooked.