I love costumes and drama and for those reasons I love Halloween. Last year, I created my first Halloween poster and with the success of that project the only question I had was what to do for this year. One of my favorite bands is a band called Hybrid and I like to listen to them while I edit photos. They have a song called the “The Formula of Fear”. This idea that “fear” has a formula was something that I started thinking about. I kept asking myself, how would you represent fear visually and do it in a beautiful and elegant way?

After a lot of thought I decided that fear is a concern for the thing that is unseen – you just don’t know what you are dealing with yet. Often, the reality of a situation is not as bad as our fear of it. As I kept thinking about this I started thinking about concepts that implied something but that didn’t actually show anything.

If you study movies one of the things you almost always see is the climax of the movie is resolved in a dramatic and memorable location. I needed to find such a location for my photo first and then work backward from there. After a lot of searching I found this photo of the old Pidhirtsi Castle, in the Ukraine that I felt was perfect.

The next step was putting together a visual concept for the team and thinking about who else needed to be involved.

As I thought about models for this I kept going back to a girl named Megan. We worked well together in the past and she has a very classical, natural look that I felt would fit the concept perfectly.

The other problem was finding the right dress. I wanted something long and flowing that allow me to create some sense of movement with it. J. Bridal Boutique here in Tucson stepped in and graciously allowed me to use one of their dresses for this project and I could not have asked for anything better.

Shooting composites is tough because you are shooting for a photo that others can’t see at the time. They have to trust that it’s going to come together no matter how odd or rough it looks in the studio. This can be really hard for models because there are little to no visual cues for them to work with.

In this case Megan and I talked about the emotion needed and where it was going. I showed her my reference material as a way to help her visualize what the final shot would be so to help her play the role I was asking for.

Then we got to down to business which was mainly me asking her to jump forward and look back – and do it all while looking both beautiful and scared at the same time. She did a great job with it – despite me asking for her to do this one thing over and over and over again.

Part of the reason for all of the repetition is that I was looking for body position, hair, facial expression and then the way the dress was flowing out behind her. In the end to get the perfect combination I combined several photos together of the dress to create the right kind of movement because no one photo had it all.

Personally this photo was a big step forward for me. It was the first time I create a composite starting from the background and building everything around it. It also tested my ability to match perspectives, color grading and creating an overall mood from several different pieces.

Now I need to start thinking about next year…

Model: Megan Russell
Agency: Arizona Model Management
Hair and Makeup: Kristopher Osuna, Perfection Artistry
Dress: J. Bridal Boutique