Marc & Louis Photography Storyboard their bloody shoots

I was sent this video by Marie-Louise Cadosch of Marc & Louis Photography based out of Switzerland, and I was absolutely blown away by the attention to detail in their planning and preproduction.  Their behind the scenes video "Bleed Like Me" is gruesome and not for the faint of heart but I doubt you have seen anything like it.  And if you are thinking about our DSLR Contest, you may find some editing tricks for your own video. Click the link to find out how they shot and filmed this series.

"Okay, we've written a little about this shooting... but we're not native english speakers ;-)

About "Bleed Like Me"

"Bleed Like Me" is a free work by Marie-Louise and Gian Marc Cadosch and is the first part of their long-term art project called "Women|Emotions|Violence". The project consists of several short stories, all with a macabre touch and a bit of humor.

The idea came last year when we saw the third season of the great HBO TV show "Dexter" with Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan. He has a double live as Miami Police Department blood splatter analyst and serial killer... In our story, it's a woman hurt by a bad guy in the past who decides to take revenge on him. The reason should leave in the imagination of the viewer.


We had only a very small budget and limited time for the whole story. Therefore, planning was crucial. It began with the drawing of the storyboard with all pictures that have to be in the story. We already knew the camera angle and expressions of the models for each shot at this time.

The next step began with the gathering of all needed locations, models, costumes and props. Our budget was only around 300$ for the whole shooting! Thom our victim, is a good friend of us and a martial arts expert. We knew female model Cesarina from one of our fashion shootings. She told us, that she does some kickboxing in her spare time. How lucky we are and both agreed to work for free!

There was also no money for the locations. We shot in the attic of Marie-Louise's mother house, where we constructed the killing room with a lot of plastic foil. The table and the chair was already there. The outside location was an area of a former concrete industry on the opposite side of the road, only 2 minutes of the house! The nearness of the two locations was very important to not to loose time with the transfer of the material and models.

We bought the injection and the other medical tools for torturing from E-Bay. They came from an old german army stock. The coat was made by Marie-Louise as she used to be a tailor for costumes some years ago. We got a great 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood for the shooting. This was made possible by connections in our family.


The lighting outside was very straight forward: we used an Elinchrom Ranger with a beauty-dish for all shots. For the first picture where Cesarina waits for her victim Thom, we used a second Elinchrom Ranger with an long-throw reflector to light Thom.

Things got more complex with the lighting in the killing room: we used 4 flash lights and a fluorescent lamp. We had one studio flash with a green gel from behind pointing slightly upward and a flash with a long-throw reflector from the right side. To support these back lights, we also used a fog machine.

To light the models, we used a softbox on the front side, but we reduced to amount of light to a very low level.  We looked for a very dark mood. A second flash with a snoot was pointed to Cesarina. This should give a little more brightness in her face and was handheld.

The whole lighting setup was done one week before the shooting and perfectly adjusted, so we could begin shooting with the models right away.

The Shooting

We had 6 1/2 hours for the shooting. Over half of that time was consumed by putting on the make-up and styling the models. Without the perfect planning weeks before, a shooting like this wouldn't be possible.

Marie-Louise always uses her Hasselblad H3DII-39 camera tethered to a Mac Book Pro. This gives us instant control over the image quality in full-screen. She can focus completely on finding the right angle and moment and doesn't have to fiddle with fine adjusting aperture and time on the camera. All camera settings can be controlled from the Mac Book! We always have perfect exposed raw pictures which is the key factor for great retouching results.

One big advantage of the Hasselblad system is, that the lenses contain a central shutter which allows to sync up to 1/800th of a second with flash lights. Standard 35mm DSLR cams only allows syncing at 1/250th of a second or even less. This is cool for outside shootings with sun light, because it allows to suppress the sunlight effectively. For the kick scene, we used a sync time of 1/400th of a second to reduce motion blur on the kicking leg.

The killing room scene was more difficult: because we wanted to let the fluorescent lamp take effect, we had to power down all flash lights and use a relatively long exposure time of 1/90, which is almost the minimum time to shoot without a tripod using the 80mm/2.8 lens (equivalent to a 50mm in the 35mm system). All these shots were done at f4.0, so there is only a shallow depth of field. The fog and the darkness made it very difficult to find the focus.

The last scene was Cesarina as FBI agent investigating her own crime scene. We only had to tear down the plastic foil and rearrange slightly our lighting setup. During that time, Cesarina got a new styling. All this took about 20 minutes and we were ready for the final. Again, we used the fog machine to create the special atmosphere.

Post Production

Our goal is always, not to create the main effects in Photoshop. We are photographers, not composing artists. It's all real in our photographs, the location, the car and the light effects, nothing is composed. But we used a lot of traditional photo retouching techniques, mainly dodge and burn to create a comic style effect. One thing we always do is to add some grain to the final pictures. The image quality of the Hasselblad medium format sensor is outstanding: absolutely no noise even in the darkest parts of the image. This is much better as the already good Nikon D3 we used before. The clean raw files are excellent for editing, but for our final pictures, we want a more traditional film look."

Check out more of their work, including fashion and Editorial, at Marc & Louis Photography

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Grant Lankford's picture

WOW, I love this shoot! I guess it's because I'm a huge Dexter fan. The images have such a cinematic feel. I especially like the lighting when she's in the 'kill room.' To some this may be a little strange, but it's different. Different is what made the show so successful. Very cool, thanks for sharing this BTS video!

Justin Driggers's picture

Yes I agree, this is not the normal type of photoshoot that you usually see but that's why I love it. The images are not too polished which is what makes this work. I'd love to see more like this!

Patrick Hall's picture

Glad you guys enjoyed this. I was worried it was a bit too different but I guess more people are into this sort of stuff than I originally thought. Click the post if you have not yet read the details.

Grambs's picture

Oh Yeah, this ist great. I love this work and ist wunderful.

Thomas Woodson's picture

Wow, totally didn't expect these images to have been shot with a Hassleblad. This isn't the style normally seen from those. I think the kill room was the coolest part.

Taras Chaban's picture

Someone has been watching Dexter much? I love the girl in the shoot and the car I think it has this sexy death to it. Oh and the car..

Marie-Louise Cadosch's picture

Thank you guys for your kind words! I'm glad you don't take this morbid shooting too serious... ;-) It was so much fun! I'll answer your questions if you have any.
Next shooting will be a fashion one... and be assured it will be different... ;-)

Toby K's picture

Great video.. Patrick I think we are more into seeing behind the scenes and getting some inspiration with these videos, also we like to see what type of equipment or settings they are using, and what post techniques.. Keep the videos coming.. LOVE THEM!

Jon Chiang's picture

Wow, this was incredible! Thank you for creating this video, this is something I've been wanting to create myself for some time now. You have just opened up a world of ideas for me!

David's picture

I've been trying to learn to draw lately so I can storyboard my shoots, the fact that someone else is doing the same thing is encouraging :-)