Photographing the Mummy Theme for Halloween

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Over the years I have taken countless photographs of as many subject as I could find. In some instances, especially when I found myself in a rut and lacked inspirations.

I began to formulate my own ideas, topics, and lists of subjects from which to draw themes and make them into a photographic project.

Keep in mind that most of my photography was done for my own personal gratification. Although I have sold quite a few images to some publications, calendar publications, poster producers and book publishers the bulk of my shooting was and still is done simply because I enjoy doing so.

With that said, I am a fan of mystery, horror and sci-fi movies and have always loved involving myself in the making of my own props which in turn I use in my photography.

Almost any festivity regardless of the theme, offers a photographer an opportunity of taking the camera out of the bag and shooting pictures till you drop. Halloween, St. Patrick's and Christmas are among my favorites.

Out of one particular Halloween party to which I was invited and on which I dressed up as Zorro, I came up with the idea of carefully re-producing some of the most elaborate costumes that some of the guest had worn and turning them into yet one more photo project.

I really became interested in mummies for two main reasons; not only are they creepy but making a mummy costume that is not only scary but looks very realistic is much easier than you can imagine. Along the mummy I also wanted to introduce a completely opposite so a princess became part of the mix.

Before we begin, lets us first get a better idea of what is a mummy: "A mummy is a human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold (ice mummies), very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions. Some authorities restrict the use of the term to bodies deliberately embalmed with chemicals, but the use of the word to cover accidentally desiccated bodies goes back at least to the 1730s." Wikipedia

Creating a mummy costumes is not difficult; cloth bandages, some Versatex or equal airbrush paints in the following colors; brown, black, olive green, ocher, and rust an air brush set or a manual spray painting equipment.

Note that you will need lots of cloth bandages to wrap the model in. Leave the face with enough bandage free space to work on the area around the eyes and mouth. Mix the paints with a ratio of one part Vesatex paint to about ten parts water. Play with the colors until you get a likable combination or color palette and make sure to stir well. Dip the cloth bandages in it and take out and let air dry. Afterwards you can start wrapping the model in it.

Another much easier alternative is to dip the bandage cloth in black tea for a few minutes and after wrapping the model sprinkling the "mummy" with flour. The tea gives the coloration and the flour gives it an "aged-dry" look. Not the most realistic but it works well and it is way more cheaper than with the Versatex method.

Use the sprayer or airbrush to break up the uniformity of the paint dipped cloth and accentuate different parts in the body once the model has been completely wrapped.

If you want a rubber mummy mask works well but you should paint it with the same paint that was used for the bandage cloth. You can leave the eyes free or use novelty solid black contact lenses but this is not crucial.

For the face it is better to use face makeup in colors similar to that of the cloth and to apply it around the eyes and around the mouth then cover the edges with more of the cloth bandages. Make sure to use novelty fake teeth and make sure to paint them in a similar color combination. You are going for an old and decayed look. To make the bandage stick in round areas like the elbows, knees, and so on, apply a small amount of Vaseline to these parts and press the cloth in.

For the princess theme go for the exotic, Hollywood style similar to The Mummy Movie production of the 1999 and following years. The princess should be beautiful and her clothing should be just as exotic. Robes made from gold leaf cloth, or white tunic with matching gold tone arm bracelet, necklace and eye make up to match.

If the model has long black hair then great, if not use a wig. Keep in mind that the ancient Egyptians were of middle eastern descent so the model should be well tanned or you can use body paint to simulate their regional skin tones.

Better to use a good make up and hair stylist if possible and share with them what it is that you want to accomplish.

Pose you mummy /princess model in a setting that simulates ancient Egypt ruins and so forth. A good digital background should do the trick. Some complementing props like torches will add an air of credibility. One good prop idea is to take "tiki" styles patio torches and paint them in gold.

Also,if you have or can find an old discarded chair that you don't mind using for the project, painting the wood portions in gold works quite well. Note that it must look like an ornate one not a cheap plastic patio one.

This works better in a studio setting but any open are can do so long as no modern elements are present, thus visible.

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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