The Loki shoot was a bit of a departure from the other photoshoots I’ve previously done with Osric Chau. For one, I knew what he was cosplaying as. For a whole 5 months beforehand. He was particularly excited about it, and when he told me about it I actually asked (begged) to be allowed to shoot it.
So I have to be magnanimous in this instance – I did know what I was getting myself into. I went into it with three particular images in my head. One was a promotional photo for Thor : The Dark World, and the other two were from Tom Hiddleston’s Hall H appearance at SDCC in 2013.
If you’ve ever seen Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, you’ll know that he is an intriguing mix of Shakespearean villain with an underlying layer of angst and vulnerability. So the key was to somehow give an impression of both.
Because of the layout of the convention hotel, there wasn’t really anywhere we could go to do the photoshoot, so Chris was kind enough to let us use the backdrop that was set up for promo photos when he had a long break in his shooting. I was taken aback by his kindness and incredibly intimidated at the same time.
Again for me it was working a balance between completely filling the frame and working with a lot of negative space. The costume was intricate and made up of lots of lines and diagonals and curves and different textures, and because we were using a plain seamless paper backdrop those parts of the composition could be brought to the fore without competing with a background. It really was totally up to Osric to try to emulate his own version of Loki. I was lucky to have my friends Kat and Sean there to help out, and we bounced ideas around (I absolutely could not have done it without them!) We tried everything, from tightly framed close-ups where I was standing on a chair looking down the bridge of his nose to emphasize vulnerability, to the full frame powerful “Say My Name” pose. The ones where he got “Loki” the most to me were the ones of him sitting beside the helmet – there was something about the expression or the mood, I’m not sure. It just worked!
I did the first set of images, then Chris Schmelke tweeted a picture that he had taken of Osric and it sent me running to photoshop to heavily edit my own in an attempt to try to keep up with him! These involved many, many adjustment layers and lots of dodging and burning, which I’ve talked about on here before (basically subtly “dodging” or lighting some areas like the whites of eyes, bridge of nose, cheeks, light-touched areas of hair and “burning” or darkening other areas like pupils of eyes, sides of nose, under the jaw etc. Almost like highlighting and defining with makeup)
Working with off-camera lighting in a studio setup gives photos a dynamic quality that is so different to natural light, but you can still give the images even more dimension and “punch” using dodging and burning creatively. Because in my mind I see Loki as this hedonistic blur of black and green and gold I tried to really emphasize those colours by boosting their saturation levels and suppressing other colours like blues and reds. The final touch was a really heavy vignette (usually a no-go area) to heighten the sense of heightened drama and draw the viewer’s eye directly into the subject – “Loki”.
And because I am such a stickler for black and white, I had to go back and try converting some of the images. I was actually really proud of how they turned out, especially the this one. The almost HD darkness and high-contrast moodiness of them reminded me of some of Andy Gotts’ portraits who I follow on twitter and admire greatly.
I know I probably sound like a broken record, but this was so much fun to do, and I was again so grateful for the opportunity to do it. I feel like I’m on this gigantic, steep learning curve and I’m being tested and it’s scary but fun at the same time. Each time I want to get better and produce stronger images. I’m not sure if and when the next photoshoot will be, but hopefully I can rise to the challenge again!
Thank you so much to Chris Schmelke, Katherine Arteaga and Sean Koo for all their help and encouragement. Thank you Isa, Gretchen and Samma for all their hardwork making the amazing costume and thank you Osric for pushing me and putting up with me simultaneously lol