Video by Kelly Zak
How it came together:
I began by stalking him on his facebook page, finding out that he was in the LA area and bookmarking it for future reference. When I landed my first commercial gig in LA in December of 2012, I invited him out for a brainstorm coffee but our schedules just didn’t line up and plans fell through and long silence ensued.
Fast forward to June 2014, I finally had the opportunity to return to LA and a conversation with Kelly Zak, SFX makeup artist out of LA, reminded and encouraged me to reach out once again to Michael and see if there was any chance that he’d be interested and available to work on something together.
Knowing that someone of his caliber would undoubtedly receive requests to collaborate, I made sure that I would be able to offer him something different. Besides my portfolio, I had the best designers that I knew in LA on standby to design something specifically for this shoot: Amber Kusanagi and Michelle Hebert. Hair Stylist extraordinaire Dinah Raphaelle was also enlisted to complete the team… but even with all these elements I still didn’t feel confident reaching out to him just yet.
Wondering how I could make my offer even more enticing, I reached out to my friends over at Broncolor asking if it would be possible to borrow a bunch of specially built UV Attachment units. They graciously agreed and I finally felt ready to reach out to Michael.
“Want to create something new with UV with an amazing team and some amazingly advanced technology?”
Bodypainting is a very lengthy process and we knew that with only 12 hours on the shoot start to finish and two models to prepare, time was going to be an extremely precious commodity. Our brave models Koko Laimana and Kiara Belen were going to need to stand still for two hours each as Michael worked his magic. Special UV paint from European Body Art was used and by the time hair, bodypaint, lights and both models were set up and ready to go, half the day had already gone by and we had just enough time to take fire of a couple quick shots before the models had to go get their second layer of paint completed.
To light the set, we had a total of 3x Broncolor UV Attachments equipped on two Broncolor Move 1200L packs bouncing in a pair of Paras along with a pair of cheap 4ft Blacklight Tubes that Michael Khan, BTS videographer brought along with him. The combination of having continuous and strobe UVs meant that not only would I have an easier time focusing and seeing my subjects the way my camera did, but that I could also have creative control to drag the shutter if I wanted to and add a sense of subtle ethereal movement into my images.
The entire shoot lasted exactly 12 hours before we got evicted from our studio space and while we had gotten some phenomenal shots up to then, I felt that there was still more that we could accomplish with just a little bit more time. Since no amount of grovelling or money was going to extend our shooting period, I decided to pick up my battery powered Moves and headed outside with my Voice Activated Lightstands Marem and Michelle to keep shooting in the parking lot.
Despite the long day and late hour, the entire team stayed behind so that we could capture those few extra magical shots – and it is dedication like this to a project that makes such amazing results possible.
Photo: Von Wong
First Assist: Digital Jess
Body Art: Michael Rosner
Makeup Assist: Akiko Yamakawa, Ian Carre Burrit
Hair: Dinah Raphaelle
Designer: Michelle Hebert, Amber Kusanagi
Models: Koko Laminara, Kiara Belen
Producer: Don Le