the feeling of fragrance | smoke

I'm continuing my series of posts about each portrait in my The Feeling of Fragrance series. Next up, I'd like to share a little more about the "Smoke" portrait. Here is the image that was included in the collection:

This portrait featured model Jada M from Orange Models. I had worked with Jada once before, and I thought her look would be perfect for this theme. Luckily she was available and I met up with her and her mother, Juliet on a bright summer day. I had originally envisioned in a coniferous forest, but once I settled on "Pine" as another scent, I decided mixed foliage would made a better backdrop. I knew I wanted to shoot outdoors, as my love of smoke comes from all the great memories I have of bonfires and cottage weekends and camping. I chose a conservation area in Aurora, Ontario as the final location.

Next up, I had to figure out the best way to get an actual element of smoke into the photos. I knew I wanted to capture this in-camera, rather than adding it in post-production. I began doing lots of research as to the most convincing effects. After ruling out a smoke or fog machine, exploring lots of firework websites, stores and sketchy pop-ups in parking lots, I found this website. I called one of their Toronto locations and the woman on the phone assured me that they had the perfect products for my shoot. When I dropped by, she helped me pick out a selection of different options. By far the best were these smoke emitters in gray and white. Here's what they look like as they're, well, emitting:



The smoking cone, on the other hand, was a bit of a bust. It smelled horrendous and barely worked.



Here's Juliet, who generously volunteered to carefully hold the smoke emitters so we could better control the direction of the smoke:

The final step on the day of the shoot was choosing a backdrop that would best show the smoke. I took a bunch of test shots before concluding that we'd just have to have a very dynamic, experimental shoot and see what worked best on the fly. My main worry that the backdrop would be too tropical looking and would, with the added smoke, start to resemble the jungle dancing sequences from J. Lo's Waiting for Tonight video. For that reason, I tried to stay away from ferns!


For Jada's hair, we let her natural texture shine, aided by some french braids that shaped the wave, thanks to Juliet. I created a soft smoky eye in gray and taupe tones to match the smoke itself.  I kept her lips natural in colour with a hint of shine, and added only the tiniest bit of contouring and blush to her cheeks. We brought along a variety of black garments with interesting textures, and we ended up using four or five different outfits to provide options. Jada's poise and focus were instrumental to the success of this shoot. It's unbelievable to me that she is only 16 years old. I wish I'd had myself that together at her age! Many thanks to Jada and her sweet mother for all their help with my project. Here are the other images from the shoot: