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Photographing Movie Prosthetics

Updated on July 26, 2013
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Many of you have probably seen the SyFy Channel television show called Face Off, where contestants create makeup for use in television and movies productions. Although these are mostly amateur competitors vying for prizes and an opportunity of showcasing their talents to an International audience, the level of artistry and talent is often amazing to say the least.

"Face Off is an American reality television game show on the Syfy cable network in which a group of prosthetic makeup artists compete against each other to create prostheses such as those found in science fiction and horror films.....Each week, the artists face a "Spotlight Challenge" that tests their artistry and techniques to create a full makeup character to match a theme over the course of 3 days... The judges then have the opportunity to look at the makeups from afar and up close, and decide a series of top and bottom looks for the week. One artist will be deemed the winner, sometimes receiving a special bonus prize such as elimination or a cash reward, and one artist will be eliminated from the running for the grand prize." Wikipedia

Taking this concept and turning into a photographic project allows for an interchangeable set of ideas across two art related disciplines and can turn out quite stunning images in the process.

There are many local prosthetic artists and schools in most major metropolitan areas that will gladly donate time and supplies in a collaborative effort and you in turn take care of the photography part of the deal.

Aim to have several works that revolve around a theme such as a comic book theme, a horror theme, a science fiction theme and so on. After the prosthetic artists complete their creations then it's your turn to capture the images of the finished products which in turn can be made into a book, a calendar or any of several other projects.

Most of the final images can stand on their own, however adding digital backgrounds that complement the image can literary turn these photos into stunning works of art. Most of the currently available digital editing software programs allow for the process of adding a background to individual photographs. Just make sure to become familiar with the program's limitations and learn how to use them well.

The backgrounds should not only blend with the images but should become part of them. You can use single colors that match the makeup color palette but if you can include other elements such as a background that features elements which make for a more realistic scene along with the prosthetic creation then that much better. Again, this will be dependent on the digital program and your digital skills.

Off course do not overlook giving the appropriate credit where one is due as well as providing copies of your photos that each artist will probably use as part of their portfolios and schools may use as part of their advertising campaigns and as decor.

Keep in mind that you may have to provide ample space where these artists can work as well as securing the aid of models or volunteers. Asking schools for space and volunteers may be a good idea and most will gladly help since the images will help them in touting their services, kind of you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Another point to consider is that although you are emulating the concept of this reality show, you still have to infuse your images with your own artistic flair. Your images can and should have an "air" resembling the Face Off show, yet must be distinctively different.

Images such as the ones that can result from such a project are one way to distinguish yourself from others. This work can put you over the top and can eventually lead your photographic life into new directions.

Pay attention to the work performed by your collaborative artists and take an active stance in the creation of their work since ultimately it is your work in the form of your photographs that will be judged by your audiences. A good technique is to make references to the show, viewing sample episodes and suggest themes to use.

Have these artists critique your images and also critique their work since in both instances these critical reviews can lead to learning opportunities.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

This collaborative effort can gather you possible clients that will hire you in order to showcase their work, can help you in networking efforts with others in the same industry, can introduce you and your work to others in the film and television industry, can give you access to venues and can also lead to future friendships.

Be aware that many artists, including photographers, form working arrangements in which all parties provide collaboration in the production of one main thematic production.

Collaboration in art has become a very real way of life in today's very competitive business atmosphere. Always lend yourself for such when asked and do not be coy in asking for mutual efforts when you are in need.

Your final images are suitable for submissions to magazine editors that deal in the science fiction genre, general arts, the makeup and prosthetic Hollywood industry, book editorials and other photography related publishing platforms. Your images can also be featured in galleries and sold as individual framed pieces.

It also introduces you to a different art form where by close study you can experience the use of light and how it plays in how an audience looks at an image, what colors work better with each other and the reflective qualities of various body paints and materials.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. | Source

Would this be an interesting project for you to do?

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lilo: Thank you

    • L1l2 profile image


      5 years ago from Sandbanks Dorset England

      I like the hub thanks for sharing.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      gregoriom: Thank you and yes they are.

    • gregoriom profile image

      Deninson Mota 

      5 years ago from East Elmhurst, NY

      Great show. These people are really true artists.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Eiddwen: Thank you

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      A great read;thanks for sharing.



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