We start the planning of every shoot with a question: what is the setting going to be, and how does it tell the story?
Shawna Pandya is a badass scientist & doctor in Edmonton that we photographed for Avenue Magazine’s April Issue. The main focus of the story is her participation in the Project PoSSUM (sweet code name!), a scientist-astronaut spaceflight qualification program aimed at studying clouds in the upper atmosphere to understand more about global climate and climate change.
The main lead of the story then being Astronauts and SPACE!
Only problem is we didn’t have access to anything space related, and even if we did, all those things are kind of hokey and been done to death. So, we opted for a little light and movie magic to create our own practical effect, an abstract nebula space background. You’d be amazed what a $50 smoke machine can accomplish.
Like most of our best work, this editorial portrait was a collaborative process between us and the client.
Pete, the art director at Avenue Magazine, was brainstorming with us about this photoshoot and brought up the idea of stars in the background from a practical effect, like poking holes in a seamless, which we really liked. From our lighting knowledge we knew that the holes on their own wouldn’t look like much except polka dots unless we stopped down to some crazy small aperture, roughly f16, or if we had some material in the air to light up… which made us start thinking about the humble invention known as the fog machine.
After more time to contemplate, the space matter/nebula idea took hold, and to give it depth and colour, and a bit of absurdity, we used the fogger and some coloured gels. It took a bit of teamwork and know-how to get the swirls and smoke in the right spot, but it made for a really fun set.
For variety we got a bunch of alternative shots of Shawna within the Alberta Aviation Museum, which kindly let us take over the back corner of the old hangar warehouse for our portable studio.