Wall of Fire Portraits with Shayna Rose
WEST BRIDGEWATER, MASSACHUSETTS - The other day, I wrote some background about creating a wall of fire during a portrait photography session. After getting fairly comfortable with the over all process, I wanted to go live with a full portrait session so I contacted my dear friend Shayna, a model and gifted flow-artist, to arrange a photoshoot together. I arrived with Artemis, a Boston psytrance DJ, audio-visual tech, and my ever patient photography assistant. I planned to enlist Shayna's boyfriend, Stephen, to be an additional assistant and fire-safety. You can never have too many people involved with fire safety, right?
We began with discussing exactly what I had in mind, and walking around the backyard with Shayna to map out where to place lights, the camera tripod, where she would be posing from, where the fire assistant would walk (including which direction made the most sense to walk), and how to properly extinguish the wick in between shots. We also discussed what Shayna would be comfortable wearing, what materials would be safer to use for fire photography than others (in a nutshell, absolutely no synthetic fibers), and suggestions for poses with her fire fans.
After explaining the overall walkthrough with Shayna, I delegated roles out to Artemis and Stephen as fire assistant and fire safety. The fire assistant would be responsible for fueling and, on command, igniting the wick and walking in the direction of the fire safety. The fire safety would be responsible for being the second set of eyes on the assistant, insuring s/he did wasn't accidentally immolated, and would receive the wick at the end. Finally, both would work together to smother the flame on the ground. In the end, both of them took on each role and got comfortable with both roles as the shoot progressed.
Pro Photographer Tip:
As a photographer working with a model, never reach out to your model to touch them in any way without their consent, even to adjust a little bit of hair or brush off lint. It is so easy to forget, and a shockingly simple boundary to cross without realizing it. Unless they are experienced and can pose themselves it is best to strike the desired pose, yourself, so they can mirror the pose. From there, you can first help them to fine tune their pose at a distance. I will do things such as give visual cues with my fingers to help tilt a head, give rotational direction with a hand, adjust my own stance, twist my hips, etc, to help guide a model. When holding props, I will ask to hold them myself, and then model the desired pose. Especially if the model is female bodied/identifying, I will ask if my female bodied assistant could help adjust hair, clothing, or a pose as needed. It is only after every other option is exhausted, only after I have gained clear consent because I have clearly explained what I am wanting to demonstrate or do, will I reach in to adjust/guide/pose.
Photo Gallery of Shayna Rose's Fire Portrait Photography Session
Finally, the shoot itself began. It was windy, so we needed to take extra time in between shots to gauge the direction of flames coming off the wick, as well wait for the wind to die down as needed. Camera settings were dialed in to show as much flame texture as possible during a long exposure. Lowest ISO, and about f18-f22 for about 4 seconds. The flashes were set to eTTL and at about a 4:1 ratio to give both good key and fill/side light as needed. After enough wall of fire portraits, Shayna also lit her fans for some live action photographs and some posed portraits.
After nailing some shots with Shayna, I wanted to take some portraits of my assistants, in appreciation for all their hard work. Stephen is highly musically inclined, recently recorded some heavy metal tunes, and has plans for throwing future events of his own. Artemis is, well, Artemis. An experienced psytrance, suomisaundi, psychedelic-breaks, darkpsy, drum and bass, techno, house DJ, operatic singer, welder, deco artist, violinist, performance artist, audio-visual tech, model wrangler, and invaluable assistant.
Photo Gallery of Additional Fire Photography Portraits
I have included linking information for Shayna, Stephen, and Artemis below. If you are so inclined, please give their respective pages, websites, and profiles a visit, like, follow, subscription, and/or whatever other social-media signals matter for support. They are each talented individuals, hard working, creative artists, and people I am proud to consider friends.