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MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

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PHOTOGRAPHY by KRISS on 04 november 2015

As you may know we will soon host milk dress workshops in Nerja, Spain, more exactly during the first semester of 2016.
These workshops welcome all levels of photographers who own a DSLR and know already the basics.
We are currently casting models for the sessions and will post more on the subject soon.

Meanwhile you can send us an email if you want to know more or pre-register.

So this lead us to our post which explains the basics on how to shoot the amazing milk dresses !

In this post I will try to explain from the very beginning how to realize the photography of a milk dress on a human being.
Yes I have to precise that we are talking about photography because people, quite a few, asked me if we sold the dresses afterwards.

So understanding we are on the same page and your interest is in shooting splashed liquids on a model, we are going to see how to create a unique composition that will be both stunning and unique.

So the first step it to actually get a model and even if I can’t really help you with that, understand that you need someone willing to pose naked for you and for quite a while.
Explain your project thoroughly, have an assistant of the same sex of the model especially if you are a male photographer.
Just imagine how this could sound : «Hey, my name is Jim and my friend Simon and I were wondering if you would be up for a shooting session which consists of you being naked, and then being splashed milk all over your body».
Perv ! Yeah, that’s about what you might get in the best case.

So anyhow, now you’ve found your model, your assistant and a studio or any place that could work as a studio for this purpose.
And what exactly that would be ? First of all you need to have some space but not necessarily that much.
Most of the milk dresses we realized were shot in a small studio, we just had enough space to shoot a model standing up with a 85mm lens.
What is important though is that you get enough space on the sides of the model to shoot the milk without splashing your lights or any other valuable equipment.
Which leads us to the first step of the shooting.

1) Setting up your studio for milk works.

Buy large plastic sheets as if you were going to paint over your whole house.
They usually are of a good size and you will need a few of them.
Get some wide scotch tape as well and start securing all your splashing area from the ground up to the ceiling.

Then, install your lights, there are many ways to do so depending on what kind of result you want but the safe bet is to place 2 softboxes on either sides lighting the model at a 45 degree angle behind a dark pane.
(Einsteins work fine because their flash is so fast but we did with Elinchroms BRX500 and they do fine as well).
You can also add an extra light right in front of the model acting from the top.
When splashing your assistant and yourself have to mind the light setup to avoid awkward shadows.

Have your assistant warm up the milk (12 liters is a minimum, we usually shoot with 20 liters) and wait for your model to show up !

2) Getting the right pose with your model and shooting the canvas photo

Place your camera tethered to a computer or laptop with a full pack of batteries or plugged is even better.
Get it on a tripod at the right distance for your model to be properly cropped in.
Shoot a couple of pics just to get an idea of the quality of the light, shadows etc…

Show your model an example of the pose or poses you are expecting of her and see which ones she feels confident she can more or less hold for a long time.

Ask her to undress, set a private area for her to do that.
Your model is supposed to be naked in front of your camera, not in front of your eyes.
A bathrobe is a must for her to come on the set confident.
Place yourself behind your camera or your computer if you decide to trigger from lightroom.
Put the computer screen in a way that the model will see what is happening.
Also as a consequence you will not be facing her and she will feel more confortable.
Once your assistant has taken the bathrobe off of your model ask her to start posing and shoot.

Spend little time doing that just to get an idea of how your model’s body adapts to the poses.
Choose the pose both you and the model agree on and shoot some more of that minding every single detail about her hair, make up, pose.
This will make for the canvas photo.

Start splashing

Remove the shoes or other accessories your model may have been wearing for the previous shot, ask her to tie a bun above her hair and get your model in a basin you have prepared to collect some of the spilled milk.
You need her in the exact same spot, in the exact same pose.
Also if she was wearing heels, she needs to be wearing heels again for the splashes because this dramatically changes the shape of a body especially a bare body.

Start filling the dress with dropping of milk from the shoulders to the breast, shoot and shoot until you get the exact ruffles you want.
Milk smells really awful, you can incorporate some mint or orange or lavender essential oils (only a few drops) to make the experience less inconfortable.
Also, if you are working in a cold climate, set the heating quite high (27°C minimum), a wet body gets cold very quick.

Keep splashing using your own technique, I can’t give it all to you guys, this is actually the most difficult part of this work, getting the right splashes.
Don’t imagine you have enough splashes...
You never do !

Stop shooting start cleaning

After a while, know when it’s time to stop, when there is no more milk, that you have collected the spilled milk already twice and your model looks like she could do with a warm shower.
Have your assistant kindly hand her a towel and her bathrobe and let the assistant show her to the shower.

This is actually the right time to put the kettle on for some tea and not too early to start putting the plastic sheets full of milk in a big rubbish bag.
Milk smells bad and if you don’t want your studio to reek of milk, start cleaning quick !

Enjoy a nice cup of tea with your model, tell her not to expect any result quick (this is very likely it’s going to take you donkeys if it is the first one) and wave her goodbye.

Keep cleaning and start photoshopping

This is the tricky part ! You need to select the splashes you are likely to use in photoshop before starting to do anything.
Don’t correct anything in lightroom yet, just export with adobe color settings and work everything in photoshop.
Blend all your milk splashes smoothly with a gentle brush at 16% to 30% and after many many hours working pixel size you will get something beautiful !

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

MILK DRESS TUTORIAL

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