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Photographing Hyper Realistic Body Art Models

Updated on July 14, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Craig Tracy Gallery 827 Royal Street New Orleans, La 70116 (504) 592-9886
Craig Tracy Gallery 827 Royal Street New Orleans, La 70116 (504) 592-9886 | Source
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. | Source

Making Body Art

Body painting is an art, often done with acrylics, latex paints or airbrushing, artist can create designs which are almost impossible to differentiate from clothing or the subject's surroundings.

The very good artist can create a scene which completely camouflages or hides a model into a scene and they can do it with such artistry and precision that a viewer will struggle to locate the subject. This style is often called hyper realism body art and hyper realist photography.

These portraits can often fetch high sums of money and the set ups can be very elaborate and take hours just to begin.

Painting the body is only half of the work, often they are done for the benefit of a photographer whose images can be qualified as works of art and requires close cooperation between artist and photographer.

There are some extraordinary artist that have gained world fame due to their designs and work. Their efforts are well rewarded by having their photographed pieces showcased in major art galleries and many photography publications as well as very much sought after by collectors.

To undertake such a project from a photographic stand, a photographer with close cooperation with the artist must choose a suitable location, background, theme or prop that will allow the artist to "preview the scene" and begin to compose from that point.

It also involves the photographer to shoot images of the scene elements that will be used to aid in the making of the body art, sorts of reference points.

A photographer has to be well versed in the use of light, since many of the paints or materials used in this type of body decorations are prone to being very reflective, especially acrylics and care must be taken to capture the image without allowing for distracting reflections.

Anyone can photograph a model whose body has been converted into an artist's canvas, but it takes a good body painter to be able to decorate such a body and make it blend so well with its background that one becomes the other and one becomes basically indistinguishable from the rest of the scene as well. Basically the intention is to make the model become invisible.

Many art schools and airbrushing technical schools can be approached and their students, artist are often more than willing to collaborate in such a project.

Their work will be featured in the photographs and the photographs can be used as part of their portfolios. However the very good ones will often charge a fee. This besides the fee paid to a model unless a student or a volunteer from one of these schools is chosen to play the role.

This is an often little pursued photo technique or style which can be lucrative. Many of the photographers involved with this genre have their own galleries and web sites showing their work, as well as working with photography publications and tourism boards. Key West in Florida has many such studios and act as a tourist draw to the region.

Don't misunderstand into thinking that this work involves erotic images or plain nudes, in fact the main idea is to camouflage the body to such an extend that body parts are not distinguishable easily, much less being revealing.

Your job as the photographer is to capture the scene in such as way that model and background seem as parts of each other, and you should carefully choose a background or locations that allows the artist to work without undue restraint, thus much of this work is done in studios or at private locations mainly due to the stigma associated with nudity which is always the starting point.

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Off course not all body paintings covers the entire body, many excellent samples are done on just the hands, and usually with an animal's representation.

There is also a growing movement towards turning body into painting works of art; making a model appear as a painting.

An extremely creative young artist by the name of Alexa Meade is turning the photography and art world on its heels with her super realistic work and you will be amazed with what this young artist can do with some paint and a camera. See here for more details and many more samples of her work; Alexa Meade

This same style can be used to turn body paintings into surreal scenes often turning the body onto an unbelievable and impossible scene that by its mere depiction evokes feelings, emotions and awe.

Many more photography articles with tips, advice and project ideas.


What do you think about body painting art?

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CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      daisydays: Thanks...hint: look at the tiger's nose (nostrils to the top). It's the model's

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 5 years ago from Cardiff

      wow these are awesome, such a great new form of art! I'm still not seeing a model in the tiger picture but its amazing none the less

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      @Cardisa: Hint; right between the eyes and go South.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      I didn't find the model in the tiger's head. I love this kind of art. Amazing work. Thanks!!

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      I could never do this. Its stunning, but I can't find the hidden message in the pop art. Interesting and amazing Luis.