Smoke has always added something unique to photographs. It immediately creates a sense of atmosphere and surrealism.
In this shoot we teamed up again with the usual suspects, Maddison Crain was our beautiful model, who complimented my concept magnificently. Steff Matheson worked on hair and makeup, whilst Tarese Klemens styled and brought in her special "one off" dresses. My assistant Chris Bromley and I worked on the smoke machine and chiller.
This entire shoot is based around the idea of smoke, both hot smoke as well as smoke in it's chilled form. I wanted to shoot images with the model lying down on the floor, so to prevent smoke from negatively obstructing the view of the camera we constructed a basic fog chiller (YouTube for a hundred DIY tutorials) to cool the smoke and stream along the forest floor.
The location I used had a perfectly sloped embankment which I had planned to use just for this specifically. We chilled the smoke and "poured" it a few metres uphill from the model, and watched it slowly run down along the forest floor.
Of course, nothing's ever as easy as you imagine it to be, no matter how much thought and planning you put into it. Most of the fog we poured was blown away by the (insanely subtle) wind, the rest that did manage to crawl on the ground took a long time to reach the model and run around her body.
Then something happened that I didn't expect.
As the cool, low lying fog touched Maddison. Her skin would heat the smoke back up again, to the point where the fog started to rise back into normal behaving smoke once more. It was an eerie effect, effectively mimicking the look as if she was steaming hot on fire.
Behind The Scenes
For added effect we included real taxidermy butterflies, nothing looks more real and detailed than the real thing.
It's not always convenient to shoot smoke in a forest. You could shoot somewhere high on a mountain where clouds will pass through, but that's just not quite feasible here in my flat section of Australia. You can shoot really early in the morning and hope to catch some early morning fog, but I'm not exactly a morning person either.
With a smoke machine you're going to have to bring along some sort of power, it's an inconvenience but in my opinion it's completely worth it.