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Barbarians Among Us - a Photography Project

Updated on October 8, 2013
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Barbarians among us was and is still today one of the most arduous, time consuming, frustrating, elaborate, and enjoyable projects that I have ever conducted. Back in about 1985 I took an idea from a movie which I had just seen and proceeded to conduct the project.

Today this same project can be done with little or no change. If you have ever seen one of the Conan The Barbarian movies then you should have a pretty good idea of what the project entails.

So what is a barbarian after all? "In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.[1]" Wikipedia

This particular project is mostly geared towards the calendar industry and perhaps some artistic minded publications. Most photographic projects simply involve taking an idea and locating subjects to bring it to life. This project involves some research into historical facts and Hollywood styles or themes.

Before you even begin to consider undertaking the project there are several key elements which have to be considered among which is available capital. You will need to secure the services of some models; male and female, and they should fit a body type or physical characteristics that the public has come to recognize as those of a typical "barbarian"; think body builders and the males should preferably have long hair.

You will also need to make your own clothing since store bought costumes look comical at best. Several yards of drab leather cloth is mostly what you will need to make loin cloths, brass or chest covers and head bands. You will also need some ancient looking foot gear, realistic looking weapons such as swords, bows, spears, knives and so on. Some fantasy jewelry will also come in handy. Get some long hair wigs for men and females too just in case.

Another key element is a suitable location such as a dessert, woody field, overgrown fields work very well, Mountains areas are excellent as are lake sides, and rivers. Remember that you should try to conduct the project without having to add backgrounds via a digital format.

Good sources of inspiration, besides the Hollywood movies, are any of the many fantasy themed art works such as those by Boris Vallejo.

It is worth it to fully discuss with your models what you intent to capture in your photos as well as the poses, facial features and body gestures so making them part of your research as well as sharing with them various samples will go a long way towards making this project a successful one.

Once your location and your models are in place then it is time to begin choosing the appropriate costumes. For males use loin cloth, head bands, foot gear and arm bands. For females use short skirts, arm bands, chest coverings and head bands as well as foot gear. How revealing the females attire is it's up to you and you should therefore consider what will your intended target audience be.

All clothing gear and accessories should be leather or made of a similar material and should be natural colors. Avoid flashy colors at all cost or your images may seen racily comical. Your are trying to go for a "real" effect.

If you can get some realistic looking chain mail then the effect is that more pronounced, just do not go crazy with it, often less is better as well as some metal arm bands. Head gear such as helmets do not really add much to the scene, so using them is optional.

Arm your subjects with appropriate weapons and pose them in suitable pose and in a suitable location and proceed to record images. Most images will require the use of flash and with it you should use diffusers to make the light less harsh.

Do not try to conduct this project by yourself, you really need at least two or more assistants; to cart the gear, refreshments, make up, assisting with the model's dressing and so on.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. | Source

Poses should reflect those of figures ready for battle in the face of a yet unseen adversary.

Alternatively you can use other models in menacing poses threatening your main subjects.

Best light times are those found in the early dawn or dusk since you should add a "dark" element to the scene. Overcast skies are good too.

Pay attention to the clothing. It should not appear to be brand new. Some stains and small tears more realistically reflect the "lifestyles" of these people.

Props may be more difficult to obtain since metal swords and other props are not that easily found.

Your best bet is to contact a theater production company and see if you can rent their stock. Otherwise you may need to buy your own from specialty dealers.

As for body makeup, you really should use just plain body or baby oil to add a glistening effect and nothing much more than that except for perhaps some that simulates dirt or some earth stains.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      randomcreative: and don't forget about the body oil.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You could have a lot of fun designing costumes and sets for shoots with this theme.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Another great hub on photography! It reminds me of the new SCI-FI show on designing monsters and aliens. This would be a great photo contest shoot.

    • MichaelGallinger profile image

      MichaelGallinger 5 years ago from Detroit, MI

      Nice article as usual, getting a hang of your writing style :)