The shoot: Queen of Clubs
It all started with the story Mirjam shared, a memory from her childhood including the Queen of Clubs. I loved her story! We always have many things in common and her memory brought up memories of my own, I realized I also had a soft spot for the Queen of Clubs when I was a kid. She was always the favorite one of the deck.
We knew right from the start the tones we wanted and that the setup would be build inside. For me, getting to the result we want feels like we are walking through a big thick cloud of fog, not really knowing how to get to what it is we want. In the end it always turns out even better than we could have hoped for. I have learned through these projects to trust our vision, and to be clear and honest if something doesn´t feel right.
The first thing we did for the setup was buying the paint. We had some old fake walls we used as a background and painted them all over. At first the tone looked really bad, but once it dried it came out just perfect. In the end it doesn´t really matter since I can change tones in post production, but it’s nice to build the set as close to the finished picture as possible. Choosing the model for this concept was pretty clear, at least for me. I’d wanted to do something with Nea for a long time, pictures nothing like anything that had been taken of her before. She is an amazing person and so beautiful and the perfect choice to be the Queen of Clubs.
For makeup it was clear we turned to our go to makeup-artist Tiina Lamberg. We sometimes do the makeup ourselves just to get things done (super basic stuff), but for more advanced looks like this we use a professional and Tiina did an amazing job. We knew we wanted pearls and something over the top but otherwise we gave Tiina the freedom to do what she does best.
It was an unusually warm summer this year, and the location where the shoot took place has no air-conditioning at all. It was really hot and I was a bit worried how it would work out in that heat. On the day of building the setup we were sweating like little pigs. Almost every prop used on set was found from our homes, even the ham on the table! We wanted to make it a kitchen scene because it related to the story. The table is actually Mirjam’s own current kitchen table so there’s a weird full circle -moment there. We both love still-life paintings and the mood of them, so naturally we wanted to create that type of atmosphere to this concept as well.
Creating the light. Nowadays, I usually tend to use only one light when I shoot, this time I knew I had to have more than that. In all, I had 4 strobes on set. One large Octa 180cm, one Deep Octa 100cm, one Strip and one light with a grid and warm gels to replica the light from the candles. I also had a large reflector as fill. It´s been a long time since I have really used many lights and it was such a nice change to actually build a light setup this time. As always, the day of the shoot was filled with a cocktail of mixed emotions a rollercoaster of excitement, stress, anxiety and joy. I’m always so worried that I will mess up, that every effort we have made will just be wasted cause I screw up something crucial. Stupid, I know, but it keeps me focused. I double check things, that’s a good thing.
I felt sorry for Nea that she had to wear that amount of fabric in the heat, it was like a sauna in that room! Usually our models have to freeze outside, I can’t tell which one’s worse. Nea had the best attitude though, no complaints. The shoot didn´t take that long compared to all the time used for building and preparing.
The shoot happened in July and editing in November. I felt I needed to give myself time to build up my editing skills, so that the end result would be as good as possible. It was the right choice to do so. I have worked like crazy on my editing skills during these months with other projects, it payed off I feel. Always keen on getting better.
Here is a making off-video we made: