Cutesy Fun Sanrio Time!
We don’t know how exactly Mermaid Child is able to find some item she wants to purchase and we end up putting together a project around it. All we know is that she’s amazingly good at it.
Mermaid Child likes to randomly shop for things, especially when she’s bored. During one of these moments she found a Sanrio Cinnamoroll ‘lingerie set’ that was originally only available in Japan. Compared to the typical American understanding of lingerie that was really more like a pajama set though it was a separate top and shorts. It honestly was a really cute design.
And then she found a similar design for My Melody.
Can you see where this is going?
This came about around the same time we were discussing When The Sun Is Down I Feel Alive. So Mermaid Child was very much in the mindset of exploring herself. But here she knew right away that she wanted to go in a different direction. For this she wanted to have it be more cute/flirty/sexy. Which for me I was totally into.
Given the color palette for the outfits we knew we wanted more of a pastel look. We first started looking around for wigs and we found one from Rock Star Wigs that would be perfect for this. With the initial pose direction we were considering we thought that we needed a place that had props available that would lend well to this idea. That led us to book some time at Waveform Austin. Now Waveform has a really good selection of seamless paper and backgrounds to use for sets. But the seamless they had that could fit our color palette was honestly too bright for what we had in mind. So I ordered a white muslin backdrop and used Rit Dye in the rose quartz color to get a backdrop that would be more in line with what we were thinking.
Mermaid Child had some Sanrio plush we could use as prop elements for this... but I thought it needed something more. Since we were leaning heavily in the direction of ‘cute’ for this I got thinking “What if we just got a bunch of balloons in the right colors?” And that’s what we did.
Using Technology To Your Advantage
When we did the Pusheen swimsuit set last year one problem we ran into was finding pose inspiration for swimsuit photography. A lot of it tended to be body part centric which we wanted to avoid. With When The Sun Is Down we leaned more towards gothic fashion poses even though we realized there was a bit of a gap with what would lend better to a swimsuit set. Considering what we wanted to do with this project there wasn’t a lot of pose inspiration we could pull from for this.
Quite a while back I started playing with an application called Daz Studio. I originally started poking around with it to find a way to be creative in those times I couldn’t do photo work to explore some ideas. The way it does character creation is really powerful. Plus there’s a lot of vendors who offer pose, background, and prop packs that can help with putting things together.
I put together a character that was pretty close to Mermaid Child’s body shape going off of what we did with the Pusheen shoot. This way I could get a pretty good idea of what poses could work. I also found an outfit that would be really close to what we would be shooting.
One great thing about the pose packs that are available from places like the Daz Studio store and Renderosity is that the poses are split between upper and lower body regions. So you can really get a lot of different combinations to make things your own. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time rendering the images to get the point across. For this project I limited the render time to five minutes per image. That worked for us.
Overall this was probably one of the smoothest shoots we’ve had. So much so that we actually ended up finishing thirty minutes before our planned wrap time. Since the two outfits were similar we started with the first one and kept adding elements. When Mermaid Child changed out to the second one we basically went in reverse by removing elements until we were back at the beginning.
The part that was interesting to figure out was how to get balloons to be more of an active prop element rather than just laying on the floor. For instance one shot we wanted was Mermaid Child kicking a bunch of balloons. But when she did it we weren’t quite getting the action out of the balloons we were hoping for. So Tacocat suggested that she could grab a corner of the muslin background we were using to try to throw the balloons upward. We attempted that though all the action looked one sided. Once we got Luis on the opposite corner was when things started to come together. We just needed to figure out the timing so we’d get some good action out of the balloons but yet not have the muslin obviously in mid-air. And eventually we got it.
The editing direction did go differently than I expected. Recently I’ve been looking at techniques that could possibly give our photos a bit more ‘oomph’ compared to what we have done before. There were some things I had recently discovered using the Color Burn and Color Dodge blending modes in Photoshop that could do interesting things for contrast. I tested some of that out on some pics from previous sets… and the technique worked really well.
I ended up not using those processes here as I felt the end results (even when used in a subtle fashion) just didn’t lend to the idea of what we were doing. But I was able to apply what I had learned from those exercises and get pics everyone liked.
This was a really fun project to work on. We like to lean toward ‘cute’ things and figure out ways to make them our own. And this was certainly a great example of that.
Next time I’m going to get someone else to inflate and tie sixty balloons, though.