Photo Director: Sarah Filippi
Photo Editor: Annie Chia
Photographer: Zach Gross
Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Zach: Annie asked me to do something a little creepy and eerie: using double exposures and shutter dragging to distort/obscure their faces. She wanted the portraits of David and Robert to look a little unsettling like their television show, The Walking Dead.
What was your technique for this?
I used three strobes mixed with the ambient light coming down from a skylight in the studio, and a smoke machine to create a hazy atmosphere.
How much time did you have to do the portraits?
Because of their tight schedules, I had thirty minutes with each subject.
It’s so refreshing to see a different style of portrait that suits the content. Have you done this type of portrait before?
I’ve experimented with this type of technique before while photographing dancers and performance artists. This time it was a bit different because the subjects were not performers. I had to direct them more and suspend their literal interpretations of a portrait, asking them to perform a little more then they were used to.
Did you do any testing for this?
I arrived at the studio early, and did some tests for about an hour to adjust the light and get the technique dialed in. I came to the studio with specific ideas and goals. I sketched out some ideas on paper to help visualize the shoot. During the process, details get adjusted and tweaked but it was good to have a blueprint.
The blurs seem to be directional, how did you do that?
The blurs are directional because both the subjects and I were moving. The shoot was a bit of a dance trying to find the convergence of all the elements: strobe light, natural light, smoke, and expression. A lot of exploring different compositions…it felt like choreography.