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3.34 - "Solid" 

I've been toying around with this concept of photographing in the style of Robert McGinnis's illustrations. The trick in doing so is Robert McGinnis isn't pinup - he's pulp. And what the hell is the difference? McGinnis is famous for his interpretation of the bond girls, having been the primary artist for the bond movie posters in the 70’s. In fact prior to illustrating the "bond girl," he was known for the "McGinnis girl." McGinnis's girls were known to have a for strong presence and to hold the power in the scenes they were depicted in. Hence why the James Bond marketing team had him illustrate those posters.

I've done 5 or 6 ‘studies’ of how to shoot a ‘McGinnis’ image. This one being the most elaborate attempt. And I think it's the final light setup for when I end up doing them again. It's a mixture of hard as hell light, and super soft light. There's a snooted Einstein top left, a 10'x10' scrim to the right of the camera, and an undiffused ring light on the camera. The ring light provides this "outline" on all the body parts, and provides this super specular light. The skrim is taking control of shadows, while the hard snooted light provides the key, and add to the illustrative effect. The shadows falling across the set and onto the seamless add this layered depth, typical of illustrations. he always illustrated his book covers with a minimalist set, with an abstract background. And the women were always illustrated at the point where their character makes a dramatic turn. I believe I told Jackie here that this is the point in her story where she’s revealed to be a killer, and not just innocent eye candy.

Jackie already had this super classic hair style. Dark hair, and this bright Disney eyes. I'd say her only drawback is that she's something like 5'5", This image would have benefited from someone 5'10"+. All of the decisions made on set were to reinforce the “illustrative” aesthetic. I sprayed her with hair sheen to exaggerate the highlights, used hard light to cast dramatic shadows, used the ring light to get sharply defined edges etc. She's in an over the top bathing suit, color-matched to the set/seamless to keep a reduced color pallet. And it's obviously super sexual, to fit with the sexploitation aspect that McGinnis is famous for. In post, I took more control of the shadows; darkening and sharpening them up. And exaggerated the highlights, as well as trying to reduce the color pallet further. You can see the background paper matches perfectly with her skin tone, again, trying to crush the pallet.


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Awesome shot! Great work as always!

Thanks Stefan. Of course Jackie is doing most of the work. Being so attractive and all.

Why did you reupload this shot, I'm pretty sure that I already gave you a 5 star rating xD

I posted it “from my portfolio” the first time. And that version still has the pillow tag showing. And I knew if Patrick selected it, he’d hone right into the foot prints on the paper. So I figured it was better to upload this newer more complete edit, and sacrifice some 5’s in the process.

And thanks for the previous 5. That’s very flattering and humbling.

I have two very small pieces of feedback. There is a tiny little black spec on the planter behind the chair that is a tad bit distracting now that I've seen it. I definitely didn't notice it at first but now that I do I can't stop going straight to it.

The second thing is extraordinarily nitpicky but her left index finger feels off to me. Your finger should either be on the trigger or outside of the trigger guard on the side of the weapon and she has her finger in this sort of in-between of those two and it feels a bit odd or uncomfortable to me.

With all of that said this is still a phenomenal photo that I give a solid four.

Fantastic shot. I can see the hard work that has gone into this and I give it a 5. Tough crowd that must be trying to vote up their own garbage to give it anything less than a 4!

Hey Chase,

I gave your image 3 stars.

I like your highly descriptive explanation of the photo. The pose and the minimalistic approach is great. I try to give people constructive criticism, you as well. :)

The studio setting with the curved shadow (from the paperback) dosen't set the right mood, in my opinion of course. A real minimalistic background at a location, a build one in the studio or a composite may work better.

The chair looks awesome (except the little black thingy that sticks out under it, right of the front leg) and the addition of Monstera leafs fits well. The vase under the chair is kind of tucked away. Is it needed? Could longer stalks help accentuate the model and the scene more? At least, they would have framed her more than they do now.

You talk about that her skin tone mirror the background. And sure her upper part does. While her bottom and legs tint red. Something easy to take care of with selective color or such.

The highlights of her back seems slightly off. The rest are slightly pulled towards white, why not the back?

Last but not least, I like your style! :)

As I'm still trying to define how to shoot these McGinnis style images – I'm curious how you would propose to build out a set.

Having spent more than a trivial amount of time looking at McGinnis's illustrations, he really has two different `types` of images. a) minimal and b) incredibly elaborate. The more elaborate ones were done for a playboy series, where he was basically featured for a several issue spotlight. But the style I'm stealing here are the minimal ones.

I've debated painting some abstract 70's style story scapes. Or even painting abstract shadow blobs. But there's a point where it's not a photo, and it's – something else completely. And since these are basically still exploratory practice shots, I'm down to keep exploring - so long as it's cheap and practical.

What I don't want to do is make something digitally. Because then we're kind of stepping outside of the "McGinnis Photography" idea.

OK, let's pic the 1st one (pun intended). Since the 2nd one is hard to photograph in one shot without compositing too much.

I get that feel of a minimalistic room/location in many of McGinnis works. A floor, a wall and a piece of furniture. If you don't have a location at hand, paint a fibreboard/foam board and you are all set.

I shoot most of my work in my tiny (25sqm) apartment. It isn't the most attractive solution but I make it work.

- - -

I thought about one more thing and that is the hard light. I would go more of a semihard one. Close to your subject to control the falloff and to diffuse the shadows a bit more. Lower the angle, while maybe reflecting the light of a white surface to get rid of the hotspot or using a really big umbrella. I use the Westcott 7ft, its a good and cheap alternative. Just don't use it outside... Like I did... 2nd one works great... ;)