This month, I finished my second official portrait for the "Unearthly" series, with my good friend Liz as the subject, and here is the story behind that portrait (well, part of the story!). As each portrait is finished, I am learning so much. It's humbling to experience the powerful emotional and spiritual connection that can be created through art.

Mother, successful career woman, spiritualist, and dear friend. An industry leader in her role as CEO of Freeview, Liz was instrumental in pioneering the launch of FreeviewPlus in 2014. In an industry dominated by men, she has gained the respect and admiration of her peers. To speak with Liz, you would never know of her achievements; she is as humble as she is inspirational. Liz went through an extraordinarily difficult time last year, and this is the core theme of the portrait.

I chose to visualise Liz as a Hindu goddess, as firstly, she is a very spiritual soul, and has a lovely energy. Secondly, Liz has a strong connection with India, having traveled there a number of times, enhancing her yoga practice whilst she was there. So here is she is, floating angelically above what looks like a dark, lonely landscape of devastation, which is partly symbolic of the unconscious mind, and partly as it connects directly with those events of 2014.

When I had finished work on the image, I wanted to make sure that Liz was comfortable with it also. After sending her the portrait, Liz confirmed that it was quite emotional and confronting to see the image in its entirety, even though Liz had seen the components of it as I worked on it. So while I know that Liz is comfortable with how she has been portrayed, it has definitely captured a very personal experience for her that she still finds painful.

More details of the actual story will be revealed at the end of the year.

Here is that portrait....

The Healing

Below is a series of images that show the process including the photo-shoot on the day.

Kirra starting to apply the makeup.

Kirra is very well stocked and prepared for any makeup situation :-)

About half way through the makeup process.
I rushed out to get some emergency coffee (see on the bedside table).
After all, it was around 9am on a Sunday morning!

Makeup complete, ready to head off to Jane Earle's photo studio.
This reminds me of a "first day at school" photo. Very cute Liz :)

Sari is finally on. Makeup retouch up before the photo-shoot.
(Do you have any idea how difficult it is to put on a traditional sari when you have never done this before?)

The Hindu goddess emerges looking statuesque and radiant.

Look, we have some "helpers" that are "helping" out with our initial test shots.
It's a tough gig and only a few highly skilled professionals can do this kind of job.

Taking a few test shots and adjusting my camera settings.

Too much smiling and not enough levitating!!

Can you please float up just a bit higher?

This is when things got a bit messy.
I asked Kirra to apply some makeup to have it look like Liz had been crying.

It turns out that Liz is not a big fan of the panda eyes, gothic look! (I know, right?)
Well, Liz, the smile doesn't really help when we are trying to create a deeply emotional, sad connection here!

Caught "off-camera" with the exact emotional angst look that I was trying to capture!
It's pretty hard to make Liz appear unattractive, even with this look.

"Just please get this makeup off NOW!!"

Below are some before, in progress, and after shots...

The evolution of the background that started as an image of driftwood strewn across grey sand photographed in Hokitika in New Zealand. It was a perfect base to create an apocalyptic scene.The colour sunrise was added after some feedback suggesting the need for more contrast between "below" and "above".

This shows the evolution of the studio shot vs the post photoshop image. I worked with the colours quite extensively to create the colour palette that worked the best in creating the image as a whole. The colour was really important in creating the "unearthly" goddess spirit essence that I was looking to achieve.

To cry, or not to cry - that is the question. I feel that the tears help to create a stronger emotional connection and overall impact that I was looking to achieve. And the tears combined with the serene look on Liz's face embody the inner strength she connected with that allowed her to keep moving forward with grace, even though underneath Liz was hurting.

And on the left is one of the studio shots used to complete the final Hindu goddess "look" on the right.

So there we have it!!Hindu Goddess complete! Stay tuned for the next portrait experience next month.

Feedback so welcomed.





March 30, 2015 — Carrie Webster

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.