Armor & Smoke

There are a few things I’ve been not so lowkey obsessed with for some years and that has been shooting a lot of concepts and stories fueled by inspiration that comes from armor, knights and shieldmaidens. It kinda kicked off with Arcadia; it turned into a second sister series called “Requiem” and here we are right now, fast forward to 2019; doing what I love most: causing some havoc.

For this set I got to thank my dear friend Erik, who both graciously let me work on his private land with the smoke bombs as well as offering his stronger smokebombs after I not-so-graciously forgot to check all weather conditions except wind. Which turned out to be pretty heavy that day and proved to be a bit of a challenge to control. But all by all: things turned out amazing!

This set was originally intended to be part of my broncolor GenNEXT program but after seeing the results on set I wasn’t completely satisfied - not due to technical matters; but simply because I had seen something far bigger in my head and I decided that this would just be a “little pre-study” ; one that seriously impressed and inspired me:

Shooting with popular elements like smoke bombs are easily repeated; Pinterest (and my moodboard) are full of awesome shots yet often touch on the same kind of approach, with the same goes for all “knight in the wood” themes. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I like to turn things around a bit, even just a little. For this I decided I would introduce a lot of color; partially because I absolutely love color and using this in my work but also as it’s not something I’ve seen done before a lot. For me there is something really inspiring about using some unusual elements and bringing these together and see it come to life in front of me. This here was no exception.

I shot this with both artificial light as natural; for a full run-down and explanation I will guide you to my Patreon where I cover the entire topic, light set-ups and some knowledge I picked up on the road. The lights I did use on set are from broncolor, both a siros 800 and my move 1200.


Credits

Model - Larp Vision
Assistence - Nzoye, Shienra, Maki & Erik
Armor - Mytholon

Lights - broncolor
Edited in Capture One Pro & Photoshop

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When we realised the smaller smoke bombs didnt work as good, Erik went for his red ones and we decided to make the best out of our waiting by shooting on the nearby field with the available natural light. I really like the simplicy of these yet their deep storytelling and have made me realise yet again that you don’t need a crazy amount of backdrop or set if you have a great costume and styling available (or vice versa, in other cases). Shienra was our amazing assistant who harnassed the cloak so the wind could really blow into it and create that amazing flow I was looking for.

Pinterest: from 400 to 1 million views in 4 months

Ten steps to grow your Pinterest in a few months time:

So Pinterest. Some love it, some hate it, some just hang around a bit. I used to be a bit of all three: Pinterest is an amazing tool when it came to all that moodboarding and gathering inspiration. But I would check in and find my work plastered all over the suggestions (I had a record of 17 images in about 4 rows; most of them without proper credits). That was back in late 2018 and I decided to do some 30 minutes research into Pinterest and spend my next few days uploading about 700 images to a variety of boards I set up - mostly out of sheer frustration about it. While by then I did had a handful of work on there which gained me a few hundred views on average - I never spend much time on it for the rest as I was too busy with Facebook and especially Instagram. And life. And everything else beside Pinterest.

Until that faithfull day I got basically fed up - and decided to try and get at least some of that repinning to my website. That was in december 21018, when I’m writing this on april the 8th 2019 - I just hit my one million unique views on an average month with 40k unique interactions.

And honestly: I didn’t do too much special. I still am learning “the ways of Pinterest” and I’ve know from more recent articles I came across there are plenty more ways of interacting, gaining traffic and getting noticed; I will keep this as honest as possible and try to dive into the things I did and what I’ve learned so far.

First of all: why Pinterest? It’s an amazing place to get found. Sure a lot of people go there for their own work and moodboards; but I landed some smaller jobs like bookcovers because people where looking for work. I have made my peace a while ago I will always find my work on there with no credits or links, but considering that if you get picked up and you got that link back to your website - it can gain some serious traffic. I call it a more “slow media” channel like a blog or youtube as it needs more time; but your work will “drown less” if battling social media and those whole strategies of getting noticed. It’s also this: you don’t want all your eggs in one basket; while yes it is a lot of work, it’s just another part of marketing which can generate more traffic (and potential income) beside your “fast social media”.

But enough talk: lets get to the actual business!

  • My first steps into Pinterest and what I did:

  • 1. Less is not more: the more you have on there - the more chances you will get reblogged. At the present time I’m at about 850 pins I have uploaded manually one by one.

  • 2. Descriptions matter: I’ve read (and have noticed) that these matter a lot. Similar to SEO it will be used to generate keywords. I had a few standard descriptions I copy pasted to save time (as I had to uploaded hundreds of single images).
    Example of a description: “Photography by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan's Art - Available for Fantasy, Creative Portraiture, Fine Art & Fashion Photography. Based in Antwerp, Belgium

  • 3. Keywords I included where what I did in full sentences/descriptions: photography, fantasy, fine art, portraiture, creative & fashion. When I went more niche I started adding or removing: jewelry, product, lookbook, … or writing entire new ones. When I uploaded for Jesters, Arcadia, Requiem and Moth Girls (a few series, old and ongoing) I wrote specific new descriptions to include search terms like knights, warriors, shieldmaidens, … while still staying true to my work as a whole (photography, fine art, …).

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  • 4. Boards: I never really uploaded files twice but I did organise my boards: this was also in mind for if potential clients would check out my profile. I like to see it as a huge digital book or catalogue of my services where people could quickly check in and see. My boards right now are roughly divided into a few main categories: series get each their own, fashion & editorial have one, portraiture, creative effects (prisms, kaleidoscope, filters, …), product, commissions, …. I tried not to get too many, but also just enough to not get my work too mixed up.

  • 5. Link to your website. Not your social media, not your blog. Your main home on this world wide internet: If you don’t have a website you, even just as a single landing space - go make one now! I highly recommend Squarespace but there are plenty of other options. Do this for évery single pin. I always simply included "www.sheridansart.com” - which brings you straight to my portfolio which I keep up to date as much as I can.

  • 6. Link your Pinterest to your website (through settings): this will allow you to follow traffic, including what people pin from your website. This is an incredible insight as it may help you to determine which image(s) to keep on your website. For example I have a few clients shoots who do incredibly well and keep getting reposted!

  • 7. Make it a business account. This will give you insight in the traffic - what gets repinned, how much, how many views, interactions, visitors, … you name it. It’s a bit of a rocket science feeling in the beginning, but I find this a great tool to determine what people may like images wise - say for example for a campaign, a pitch, a new promo you want to run or on a personal leve: what is maybe cool to write about in a blog, what to get inspired by if you got an artblock, …

  • 8. Keep it up to date. I have found if I don’t post enough - my views & traffic will drop (significantly). It’s not that I really care, but I think it’s important to mention if you’re looking to grow and keep it growing. Once I found that out I did try to just spend some time (30 minutes a day in the busy upload period & now about once to twice a week) to get some new work on there. Just to keep things rolling on a steady pace without feeling too overwhelmed and bored, but also as I found it an awesome way to gain traffic while I am basically sleeping and making new work. Even just one or two photos is enough.

  • 9. Gaining traffic: I found some images do great, while others don’t at all. While it’s uncredible unpredictable with Pinterest (and social media in general) - please do not get discouraged if something does not take off as you want. If you read this, you may know my work (and if you don’t - just check out my portfolio) - my most loved work is often within the fantasy & painterly realm still - though my product work is also gaining significant traction. Create new work and try to post those every few days; just one. I never shared my Pinterest with others - I just uploaded and did email duty after.

  • 10. Have patience: it’s an INSANE amount of work, it’s super boring and you may want watch some good series like Love, Death & Robots on Netflix. Mine kicked off surprisingly fast - but I’m a workaholic with too much work to update and a freelancer who takes any excuse to watch some of that good old Netflix - so I made the best of it. The actual process took me 2 to 3 full days to get the major amount of work on there, doing this non-stop in the beginning (which is starting at about 8 am until 8 to 10 pm). To give an idea.

And that’s about it! Again, I am pretty lowkey about Pinterest and I did barely any research on it. I just thought I would finally battle all those uncredited images and start uploading it myself with a link to my website; but it took off like that and I thought I would share this with all of you! If you got more experience with it, got something to add or want to share some of your awesome knowledge do let me know! I would love to ready it :)

The Silver Spine

There are a few things I really wanted to do this year as part of my resolutions and one of those was expanding my service and business. Especially now I’m pursuing photography as a full-time career for almost three years now - I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented people on this earth and to be able to capture their gorgeous designs. From armor to dresses to wearable art and jewelry, pretty much you name it and I photographed it on someone.

But I can’t sit still and I’m always looking how I can expand myself and my business - and the idea of starting to incorporate “non-human” photography in my work has been on my mind for ages. So at one restless evening I decided to put things in motion. A bit before I had bought a few sheets of plexi and a mirror for some concepts I had in mind for portraiture - and I decided to use it and my broncolor gear to see what would happen if I took this gorgeous spine design by Eero Hintsanen and capture it like I would do it when a model would wear it: the light had to be pretty much perfect. And it needed some color. And I wanted to showcase all the beautiful details.

Once I got started on it - I was actually surprised on how much fun I had with this. While I still have tons to learn about it - it doesn’t feel as different as to shooting with a person as it’s all about making a beautiful composition and capturing the work.

For the actual shooting I wanted to try a few things: because the spine has such a specific look I really wanted to incorporate color into this, as it felt very otherwordly and almost like a piece straight out of a science-fiction movie. I decided for a very high key set using teal for the shadows. With the other two I wanted to explore what it would give using only white light and a reflective surface, with the other going for a very dark and monochrome theme.

The most important part for me was to explore the things I saw into my head and how I would translate this - but with the broncolor gear and some quick thinking I am actually really happy with these first results!

Currently this is becoming a quick growing part of my business and I’m already working on a ton more sessions and product shoots - so stay tuned! Video is also high on my list and I’m very excited to dive back into that as well. Really excited to share it all with you soon.

Find the blog & light diagram about this shoot here:  Wynvyre - Part 1 .   The spine worn by Luce Del Sole - Hair & Makeup by Eline Deblauwe - Dress by Maria Heller Designs - Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art.

Find the blog & light diagram about this shoot here: Wynvyre - Part 1.

The spine worn by Luce Del Sole - Hair & Makeup by Eline Deblauwe - Dress by Maria Heller Designs - Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art.


“The Silver Spine”

Piece by Eero Hintsanen
Lights provided by broncolor
Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

* Click images to enlarge *

"The Phoenix Gauntlets" Collaboration: Part 1

There are just a few things that have kept my fascination since my childhood - one is (as you might know when reading my blog) my obsession with armor and swords. I have little knowledge about it but I just like it all. Kinda like most of my geeky & weird obsessions - I can’t explain it, they just crept into my head and made it their cozy home and it has given me tons of fun adventures.

Throwback to like, almost 10 years ago and the moment I discovered the work of Lumecluster - an US based allround master of her craft that is equally as obsessed (but with a hell more knowledge) with armor and all that good stuff. I lowkey kuch stalked her for years - until she somehow found me, followed me back (cue my fangirling) and we got to talk to another (cue more fangirling until the end of this blog) about two years ago. She’s been creating some insane stuff for years already prior to this - her masks started in 2014 and she “only picked up” armor around 2016. I highly recommend checking her website out to see a ton more work she has done, as it’s too much to talk about: “Lumecluster: Where dreamers find courage” !

She invited me to - what would become an almost two year - collaborative project where I would be invited to capture her newest project: the Phoenix Armore. Once she was comfortable sending me her work to photograph and capture - I would be able to do so, if I wanted of course. Needlessy to say, I was freaking hyped and couldn’t say yes quick enough. Which also tested me in my limits of “non-disclore-verbal-agreement” as I was not allowed to talk about anything just yet. For. So. Long. This is actually my very first real public announcement, together with some overhyped videos on my own profile on Facebook and a quick livestream on Instagram just now - so you go figure HOW MUCH I wanted to share this!

But today is the day and today I can finally share more about it. While I won’t showcase or tell just yet what entire project I’ve planned in collaboration with her (where she also basically gave me free reign to do anything I wanted within her concept) - I will be sharing some exquisite insights in the work I will be shooting. I must stress these are not my images and I gently borrowed these from her website and blog, which I highly recommend checking out and giving it a read as it tells a hella lot more about it all - + you can even see Adam Savage himself putting it to the test :)

The two pieces I own here are both “small” - and when putting them on I could immediately feel how much love and research went into it. Not just the gauntlets on itself - but even the gloves. What I thought where first 2 sizes (small & medium) turned out to be two times a small. And all puns intended - the second prototype felt like a glove, even being a bit on the tiny side for my big lady hands! They’re super comfortable and they work with touchscreens. How about that …

The devil is in the detail and I’m pretty sure Lumecluster has been doing a lot of exorcism to get it out there - I’m incredibly humbled to be part of such an amazing project and to continue working with her on this. There is a 3rd pair in the make (one I will commission) - so I’m incredibly looking forward to see the beauty that will be the final piece. While I don’t think it could get any better after the second prototype, I’m sure Lumecluster will do just that …

The “Phoenix Gauntlets” by Lumecluster - 3D printed iridescent armor gauntlets to suit any shieldmaiden or warrior out there who wants to stand out and don’t compensate the fantasy for reality and the reality for fantasy.

The “Phoenix Gauntlets” by Lumecluster - 3D printed iridescent armor gauntlets to suit any shieldmaiden or warrior out there who wants to stand out and don’t compensate the fantasy for reality and the reality for fantasy.

So about the gauntlets: I received two pairs. One is the golden set (shown above) which is one of her earlier prototypes and a costum-colored pair featuring a gorgeous teal and purple color theme - close to the purple & blue one shown here yet different and striking in it’s own way!

As Lumecluster is a perfectionist, one could barely see a difference at first sight. While the gold has been worn a bit and shows some imperfections (I absolutely love as they tell a new story) - the new set is pure iridescent colorgasms and I’m living for it!

When I got the box, I eagerly unpacked all the pieces. Because that’s the best part: they’re not just gauntlets. They’re MODULAR - which means they’re detachable from another and can be worn in a variety of ways: you want to go casual? Don’t wear the wrist-piece. Feeling elvish? Casually attach one of your two options and become an elf. Feeling the need to steal the show? Get the other set, turn out your led-lights and literally shine your way into reality. Not feeling warrior on a certain day? Just wear the wrist-pieces on their own. Subtile and elegant? Take your pick. Want to show off? Turn on your leds!

It’s awesome. I’m a sucker for versatility, as I LOVE re-using pieces in my sessions. She literally gave me so many options now and I can’t wait to show what I’ve been cooking up with that. The following projects are also all dedicated to showcase their assembled and individual beauty - so stay tuned for sure if you want to see some serious action!

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