Cimmerian

“Cimmerian”

A little touch of darkness for the Halloween month


It’s one of my favorite months now with Halloween and so, there is no better time to try my hands on something more editorial, inspired with a little touch of darkness. My beautiful friend Spooky was able to come to me and brough a range of gorgeous styling, that we finished off with a few extra pieces from my wardrobe. This was such a fun project to work on and I’m really stoked to share the results with all of you!

Similar to my last blog, I am always looking to find new ways to use my light within a small space and most of all: how can I use light in a different way and create something that feels like my aesthetic and visual trademark. For this I thought a long time and I realised that often my main focus is to lighten the face from the front – a habit I have developed and most often got booked for. But it made me wonder what would happen if we would work with the absence of light – without turning the image too contemporary painterly and dark.

While researching I realised I didn’t want any harsh shadows and keep a smooth transition between the darker and lighter parts, so I opted to work with two softboxes: one being the 30x120cm and the other the 60x100cm – both mounted on MobiLEDS and a Move 1200. This would also allow me greater control over the strength of each individual light and alter as I went to fit my vision, which was crucially important.

I positioned both lights directly on her sides, with the smallest being on the left as I like to position my models facing from left to right (similar as to we read). The other I positioned on the right, as to have a slight stronger fill in light both on the backdrop and on her, to counteract the darker part as I wanted to keep an editorial feel.

When I had my lights places on her sides, I took my Siros 800 with the octabox and positioned it on the left aiming directly at the opposite wall with my reflector, bouncing in just enough light to fill in her face for a more flattering effect without being overpowering.

With the dark grey backdrop, processed in Capture One Pro to be more of a green as a complimentary color for Spooky’s beautiful red hair. I gave some texture to the backdrop by using Pro Edu their texture packs as usual, to just give that plain paper a little finishing touch.

SpookyWitch08.jpg

Light Diagram

Modifiers: 60x100cm softbox
30x120cm softbox
100cm octabox

Lamps: broncolor Siros 800
broncolor move 1200 + 2 MobiLEDS

Extra: 2m reflector
Colorama “Dark Grey” backdrop

Gear & Programs

Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.4
Edited in Capture One Pro & Adobe Photoshop

Light Diagram - October1.jpg

A 3 Year Photography Project: What I learned

A Photography Project: 3 years of shooting Royals, Knights & Shieldmaidens.

How making childhood daydreams come true turned into my business. Here are 6 things I have learned from it.

There it is: I have officially decided to end my longest running series called “Arcadia” after shooting three years for it. Not only was “Arcadia” a childhood dream come true, in a full platinum 100% achieved vibe but it also kind of launched my entire business actually. It has brought me a lot of traffic, clients worldwide decided to book me for it and I started working on a freelance base for the company where I bought my armor for the first time - this summer in august I’m in Germany for two days to shoot for their catalogue and I’m stoked!

But what does one learn from working on a series for the next three years? I thought I would share some of my insights with all of you because this “Arcadia” series pretty much changed my entire life:

***

1. Follow your dreams

So this is something that’s said often but in this case it really was: ever since I was a little kid I was obsessed with anything armor, swords and weapons. I was never really allowed to have any (we used to make them though, with nails through sticks, inspired by the game Age of Empire). It took me a long, long time and a really big impulsive purchase when I decided to buy a set of armor from Mytholon and asked Mara to model it for me in the studio. I was around 26 and just a few weeks into being a full-time artist and photographer in my own studio.

2. Make that crazy purchase if necessary, even if you’re being hold back
(but first, make sure you got that rent covered)

Back then, chasing that dream was an expensive purchase I kept quiet about as I néver did anything like it and I valued my life a bit, since my parents where (rightfully) protecting me from making financial mistakes. I did accidentally spill the news when we where driving to the sea for a weekend. I never saw my mom turn around and look at me with that intense stare only moms have … and turn back after a long silence with a face of “you know, let’s just Laura do her thing” . So there was that. I survived that.

Did I regret it? Yeah. Way before I spilled the news and way after too. But did it feel kind of badass? Hell yeah: I had a SET OF ARMOR. Childhood dreamgoal completed.

3. Give it your everything

Kind of like number 2, but when I had the armor and I shot THE shoot that became “Supremacy” - one of my most iconic shoots up to this date - I knew it was something new. Something that was “me” and I wanted to create, something that would change. I decided right there and then on set this would become a series. We would see how I would finance that you know. Problems for later. It felt awesome. I edited it to it’s finest details. I posted it online and it became kind of history there immediately. I set up new shoots immediately and channeled all these ideas I had cropped up inside. I was always kind of super obsessed with the Arthurian tales, the book “Mists of Avalon”, Celtic mythology and warriors. Combine that with a lifelong gaming obsession and there you where: inspiration and visuals collided into one.

4. You néver know how a ball will roll

The key to this is: credit. I always credit everyone. Even if I have purchased a piece. Partially because I don’t really hold secrets on my sources of wardrobe and clothing. A lot also has to do with me working with independent designers and I don’t lie awake of giving them some traffic through my work on my own channels (I do not let them use my work for free though on their channels but thats another topic). But also you may néver know how “a ball will roll” as my dad likes to say: Mytholon, the company I bought my armor from, found my work after I credited them in my work. I’m going to Germany in August to shoot the 3rd catalogue commission for them and there have been various other projects and they licensed work of mine for their business.

5. Trademark turned into jobs

Also unintentionally, but awesome in a way: it became a trademark style of mine. One that I got booked for plenty of times. Clients from literally all over the world came to my studio to channel their inner warrior queens and kings as the series so deeply reasonated with them. Also mentioned in number 4, it also brought various commissions, licensing and opportunities. Directly by the company I bought from but also from other companies and independent businesseso out there. Basically a niche turned profiteable!

6. Practice makes perfection

Since it’s such a distinctive style and genre: I had a great amount of fun but also challenge with this because I was forced in a way to stay within my genre, reinventing myself using the same techniques, costumes, props, post-processing techniques and additions like fire sparks, smoke and snow. It learned me to work cohesive, even thought the entire project was three years - and learned me to put an end to it because my aesthetics had changed too much eventually, helping me understand my own aesthetics and style. The good side of this is that I have an amazing collection of images that originally took me various hours to finish and I can do now between 20 to 45 minutes. I understand the process behind my work and can more easily recreate within this genre, if the commission ever arises, delivering a great final product my clients will enjoy.

“Supremacy” - the first “Arcadia” and up to date, one of my most iconic shots. Also the shoot that kicked off this project. I use this image for a variety of projects and promotion as it’s “commercial” enough to be used in a public setting while being a great introduction for anything more “out of the ordinary” . There is also a huge source of interest for this in light of recent trends and honestly: Mara (the model) has that face you simply don’t ever get tired from. Living muse this one for me.

“Supremacy” - the first “Arcadia” and up to date, one of my most iconic shots. Also the shoot that kicked off this project. I use this image for a variety of projects and promotion as it’s “commercial” enough to be used in a public setting while being a great introduction for anything more “out of the ordinary” . There is also a huge source of interest for this in light of recent trends and honestly: Mara (the model) has that face you simply don’t ever get tired from. Living muse this one for me.


Want to see more?

Find the entire “Arcadia” series here.

Want to own a Fine Art piece of this series?

Some of them have been listed in my store .
Can’t find the one you want? Just send me a request and I will see what I can do!

Want to learn how I made these images yourself from start to finish?

I’ve made a(n online) class specifically for this genre and trademark style I do. You can book yours now by contacting me on the 1-on-1 class page (form below) or directly by mailing me at contact@sheridansart.com

Need new content for your business?

Are you looking for work similar to this for your next book or music cover? Or you have a LARP business in need of some eye-catching badass promo images? Or you want to license an existing one?
Just get in touch and we will work something out!


This one has been in my weekly top images on Pinterest, racking up thousands of views every week and traffic to my website.

This one has been in my weekly top images on Pinterest, racking up thousands of views every week and traffic to my website.

“Eye Of The Storm” has been one of my most well-know pieces out of this series: it’s been licensed but also has been used a source of inspiration for private fine art portraiture sessions by clients worldwide.

“Eye Of The Storm” has been one of my most well-know pieces out of this series: it’s been licensed but also has been used a source of inspiration for private fine art portraiture sessions by clients worldwide.

This image was licensed for a bookcover, after being found on Pinterest after looking for a potential image. He decided my work was the best fit for it and left it like it is.

This image was licensed for a bookcover, after being found on Pinterest after looking for a potential image. He decided my work was the best fit for it and left it like it is.


Collaborations: How to start

Collaborations

How, where and when to start in the creative industry

One of the best and most “affordable” ways to build a portfolio featuring amazing creative or fantasy designs (beside renting) was reaching out to others through the internet. In fact, it’s also what made the entire foundation of what the studio is right now - it did take about almost ten years roughly from when I started serious until what it is now. It was definitely a road where I’ve learned a lot, by experiencing, making mistakes, listening and doing this. But it’s been one of the most wholesome experiences of my entire career and I would love to talk more about it!

Before I continue, I want to address two very important factors:

1. Cheap doesn’t mean it’s free: While I did say it’s a more affordable option over buying, it is still an investment. And it takes a lot of work, time and communication to ensure all parties are happy: so I will be breaking it all down in a few articles to come for all for all of you! But it’s a hell lot of fun, it can be way more affordable than buying - though I also highly recommend doing this as well.

2. This is my experience: so it’s slightly biasedd on what I’ve heard from designers and have learned. While I try to write this as objectively as possible - the golden rule to always keep in mind is that people may have their own system and you’re working with another person. Stay polite, stay honest and stay true. That’s half of the work already no matter the case.

So what ARE collaborations?

A collaboration is when two or more people decide to team up together for unpaid, on one or multiple projects to bring an idea to life, either national or international or a combination. In a case of international collaborations, usually item(s) are shipped to each other but I’ve had various cases when I teamed up with international models that brought pieces with them when they traveled to me too work on ideas.

Collaborations are an amazing opportunity to meet new people, create work of entire new levels and as a way to challenge yourself and each other to create epic new work for yours and theirs portfolio. For others it’s a way to break away from client assignments or to try & learn new techniques to showcase and attract new clients. And for others it’s a creative breath of fresh air.

The core is always the same: it’s to create new work on unpaid or tf base to add to one’s social media, website and ideally (online) portfolio.

When & how do you start with these?

Honestly and in theory: you could start at any time with this, even if you just picked up a camera. But in practice, there is a bit more too it: You’re working with other people so it’s not simply a matter of “ask & receive” - but a matter of “ask and work for the team greater good” and being aware you will most likely be reaching out to complete strangers to trust you and send you something to shoot that needs to be send back unharmed.

When reaching out a first time, make sure you have at least some (recent) examples of your work. It could be your website or just your Instagram even or even just a collage showing some examples. Keep your message straight and short and explain you’re interested in collaborating - if you have a theme or concept, add it straight away as well in a line or two. And ask if they would be interested. Like I said: nobody needs an essay. Just make clear who you are, what you want and what you have to offer (both as person and with your work).

I cannot stress enough that when reaching out, you’re probably working with strangers at first. Your interaction matters just as much as the results: be patient and understanding, even if you receive a “no” answer or in cases: not even a respond. Nobody owes you to send free items to shoot and you’re the asking party. While I get this is frustrating - you don’t know what’s happening behind the screens. Maybe they forgot, maybe they don’t do well with sending a negative respond, maybe they are tired of too many requests, maybe you didn’t read a FAQ or bio where they state they don’t do collabs or tf, maybe something came up, … There are plenty of reasons and in the best case - you simple leave it there as well. It’s definitely not ideal and I will be honest I don’t always respond either anymore in times when it’s just too much or many; but on the other hand I’m also a firm believer that we are allowed silence at times even if social media makes us believe we don’t.

A collaboration from not so long ago between myself, Royal Black Couture and Tinotenda Mushore

A collaboration from not so long ago between myself, Royal Black Couture and Tinotenda Mushore

Tutorial: Fractal & Prism Photography

How to achieve “kaleidoscope” effects or “using fractals”

An introduction

Kaleidoscope photography or “shooting with fractals” as I like to call them is a fun, little technique I’ve been using during the past few years. While it’s nothing new to “shoot through glass” - working with prisms like this gives a whole new dimension to the technique. The reason why I love them so much is because they give an awesome and ever-changing effect - which is both beautiful for photography indoors as outdoors but also for video. While I work with a a bit more pricey variant, you could shoot this kind of effect also with cheaper prisms you can find on ebay or certain (science) shops.

The ones I have are the (first generation) Classic fractals from GetFractals.com - with the Penrose, Julia & Pascal filter. I hope to purchase the newer generation soon as my favorite one - the penrose - has been updated and will allow for a much more interesting effect for portraits I think (also one can never have enough fractals in the house!) but since they’re slightly more expensive compared to other fractals out there I havent gotten around to it yet.

How to use these beauties

Just hold them in front of your camera and there it is! You can shoot “kaleidoscope” now. What I’ve learned since I got them is very simple yet a bit of a hassle: like many “external” props you use, you need to get the hang of them a bit and understand how to use it to your advantage and aesthetics. I do have some quick pointers I would like to share with all of you to hopefully avoid some beginners mistakes (I encountered):

What can I tell:

- They behave véry differentely when you use them for photography or video! While some effects are super strong when using them for photo, they are much more subtile in video and vice versa.

- Natural light and artificial light gives different results. While they’re all different, when using for example the “Pascal” filter indoors will both reflect your surroundings and give either super awesome or super weird effects. While if used with an (artificial) light source from behind, beside or above - these will be reflected and can be really awesome for sci-fi kinda vibes!

- Make sure you use them wisely: as awesome as they’re to go all wild, composition with these is super important; especially if you work with a human subject. Try to be aware of how it affects the body: chins, arms, necks, shoulders may become much heavier or even get cropped off completely and will be very unflattering.

- They’re glass, don’t drop them. But this also means they have a certain “softness” over them and what looks sharp in camera may not be, shooting tethered (even uncalibrated) is highly recommended.

- It’s worth it to first focus, hold your aim and then place your fractal in front of your lens for further compositing. Focussing through them can be frustrating and may lead to too-blurry shots.

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Literally instant awesomness right away!

Literally instant awesomness right away!

Below are the separate fractals and their effect, as demonstrated on one of my lovely assistant-plans ; as well as some examples of actual previous shoots and videos I’ve used them for.
You loved what you saw? You can support me on Patreon for just 2 dollars for more tutorials and articles like this.

“Julia” fractal filter: or the “eye of the storm” as I like to call it. This is the one I use the least because it’s effect is not what I usually go for in my work.

“Julia” fractal filter: or the “eye of the storm” as I like to call it. This is the one I use the least because it’s effect is not what I usually go for in my work.

The “Penrose” filter: my favorite. I hope to update this one soon, but I find this one awesome to use as it’s easy to get a kaleidoscope effect - even in small spaces - with some really epic results instantly.

The “Penrose” filter: my favorite. I hope to update this one soon, but I find this one awesome to use as it’s easy to get a kaleidoscope effect - even in small spaces - with some really epic results instantly.

The “Pascal” filter is one I came to love: while originally I wasn’t a huge fan of it; I’ve found it’s absolutely amazing to use when you have lightsources from above, beside or behind you to create almost sci-fi kinda effects. It’s also one of my favorites for outside as it gives a more subtile touch compared to the “Penrose”

The “Pascal” filter is one I came to love: while originally I wasn’t a huge fan of it; I’ve found it’s absolutely amazing to use when you have lightsources from above, beside or behind you to create almost sci-fi kinda effects. It’s also one of my favorites for outside as it gives a more subtile touch compared to the “Penrose”

Some of the results I’ve shot during my time working with them: both in the studio as on location.

Some (older) videos where I used the fractals for an awesome effect.