Crazy Cosmic Photoshoot Using Metallic Spandex

Can metallic spandex work in a photoshoot? See how we built an entire photography set using metallic spandex and some of the challenges we faced along the way.

My husband, David, is an artist and set designer, and always loves experimenting with new materials. We’d been seeing a lot of photographers doing shoots with Mylar and loved the results. Since so many photographers have already done shoots using Mylar, we wanted to try something a little different. David and I decided to build a photography set using metallic spandex instead. 

While metallic spandex plays with light in a similar way to Mylar, it creates an entirely different effect and gives off a more surreal vibe with lots of colorful rainbowlike reflections. It is also stretchy, which added an additional element for us to play with during the shoot. David and I have never used fabric in a set before, so this was an entirely new approach for us.

The first step was finding metallic spandex, so we headed to our local fabric store and purchased the perfect silver metallic spandex for the photoshoot. We then built wooden frames and stretched the spandex across them. We secured the fabric using a staple gun. It was pretty easy to do, and all of our set pieces came together really quickly. 

We don’t have a studio of our own at the moment, so we rented a studio by the hour on Peerspace for this shoot. We got everything in and started setting up the shoot. We played around with a few different lighting setups, but ultimately discovered that harsh, direct lighting produced the best results with the metallic spandex. It created that surreal rainbow effect we were hoping to achieve. 

Image courtesy of Jada and David Parrish |

Our model, Britt, arrived, and we styled her for the shoot in clothing that was made from a material similar to the set. The goal was to make her appear like she belonged in this surreal space, so having her match the set was important to the overall concept. 

I photographed most of the shoot using my 5D Mark IV and a wide angle lens. I was loving how the photos were turning out, but I decided to switch lenses towards the end of the shoot and photograph using my broken Kiron 24mm FD Lens. That lens has a soft, disorienting quality to it that I thought would pair really nicely with the rainbow lighting effects being created by the metallic spandex. It worked really well, and I think those were ultimately my favorite images from the shoot because it enhanced the trippy, surreal aesthetic even more. 

Check out the video to see how we built our spandex set. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the setup and photoshoot. Watch until the end to see the final photos, and let us know what you think of our metallic spandex set!

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Jada Parrish's picture

Jada is a photographer and director specializing in conceptual portraits. Her work is known for its bold, colorful, and surreal style. Her creative style of portraiture lends itself nicely to work in both fashion and the music industry. She is one half of the creative duo Jada + David.

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These staple guns are not the best. Pneumatic is the solution. Harbor Freight has inexpensive compressors and fabrication guns of all types good for unfrequent/light use. Buy an inexpensive flathead screw driver, cut a half inch slit at the center with a thin metal disc on a grinder to create a prying fork and remove the staples. The other thing for even tension is to roll the edge of the fabric on a stick, pull and staple the stick at the back of the stud, not top. They have metal strips in the furniture industry that can help too, kind of carpet edge strips but very thin. Some have notches for curves. Can't tell if you put something soft between the wood and and spandex on the floor but what ever you did seem to work. Nice shoot.

Very cool outcome, you are such a creative team!