My beautiful 9 year old niece has always been my go-to model to try out new photo shoot ideas. I can't tell you how many times over the years we have dolled her up, went on a little adventure, and captured unique images. As she gets older it only gets more fun, she is so eager to help me out and brainstorm ideas! I have always wanted to try a levitation image, but never have because to be honest, deep down I thought they were a little lame. BUT, when my niece asked if I could make her fly, how could I say no? The resulting image was far from lame, and is now my favorite image of my niece. I want to give you guys the background information of this image, from how I created it to how I edited it into the final result :)
So for starters, there was zero planning or prep for this image. My 9 year old niece, my 7 year old nephew, and myself were just spending time together one afternoon. My niece had seen "magical" fairy tale images before and asked if I could make her fly, like in the magical images.
I made my bed in white linens, placed a sheer canopy above the bed, and had my niece get dressed in an old vintage lace dress I discovered hidden in my parents attic some time ago. The styling for this session was key. To get a magical vibe I knew I needed natural light (I ONLY ever use natural light when photographing, it is the number one reason my images have that whimsical vibe). And to get the image to have an airy type of breathe to it (to make the "flying" less out of place) I only used white colors when selecting props.
Once the setting was right, I captured a quick before image without my niece for a composite if need be. At this point my nephew was in a huff and wanted to be apart of this image in some way. So he was the dedicated "fan operator", and made sure his sister looked "windswept". Now time to set up the shot! I had my niece lay on top of a laundry basket. Yep, a laundry basket. I told her to pretend to fly, or even swim.
And click, I got the shot.
It took maybe...6 shots before I got the one I wanted. BUT it was far from over, time to edit!
As you can see above, a bit of editing went into the final product. I won't get to technical in my explanation so I won't bore you all to death..but I will give you an overview of what I did!
- I cropped the image a bit to make my subject more of a focal point
- I took out any eye sores like stray hairs, the bedside table and the hamper, they only took the magic away from the image. I did NOT have to composite the image like I thought I would have had to, the hamper came out beautifully and did not give me a hard time what so ever.
- I upped the exposure A LOT, purposefully blowing out the highlights. By doing this it really helped give an airy and ethereal vibe. Proper exposure was not right for this image, as it would have only made her look way out of place (because flying is totally natural guys)
- Next I wanted to change the colors. Colors are a HUGE part in evolving an image. I wanted to take out a lot of the yellow tones, and added blues and purples. This REALLY changed the vibe of the image. When creating fantasy images it is important to go all in. If I were to have kept the more natural colors of this image, it would have looked like a girl just floating..adding the new hues made the image otherworldly and a true fairy tale.
- Lastly I overlayed a texture to give it the final touch it needed. Textures are super fun to make and add so much dimension to the right image.
And that's it guys! It took very minimal time to edit this one, much less time then one of my average portraits! This image is SO special to me. My niece is a firecracker. She is the most imaginative little girl, her mind goes a mile a minute. This image may be "over-processed" and "fake" to some. But whenever I look at it I will remember how much she believed in magic. How we would fairy hunt and fight the gremlins and trolls. This is not a picture of her body, but of her mind. I will always remember the little girl I was blessed to watch grow up <3