I recently stumbled upon a gallery of photographs of people in the shower. Don’t worry, it’s totally safe for work. The photos were interesting and engaging enough that I sent an email to the photographer, Nicolas Dumont. He was kind enough to share some before and after images and tell me a little more about his great project.
"At the time of the shoot," Nicolas said, "I’d been a commercial photographer for 17 years and had never done any personal projects. The few times I did think about it, I couldn’t come up with anything that made sense. That all changed in December 2007 as I was doing a shoot for a well known shaving company. One of the scenes featured a male model ‘enjoying’ a shower. The water was cold, but he was told to smile and act as if he was having a great time. Needless to say, most of the shots were absurd and comical; advertising at it’s worst—or best, depending on how you see it. I suddenly realized that I could replicate that same farcical situation at home, with a few changes."
"I set up a small studio in my kitchen,î he continued, ìthat included a canvas background, three Profoto flash heads, a Manfrotto spring loaded pole fixed wall-to-wall across the kitchen with a shower head fixed to it. The water supply came from the laundry room a few feet away. The Mamiya 645 and Leaf Aptus 75 combo was ready on a heavy duty Manfrotto tripod. The lens was a Mamiya 645 120mm F/4 Macro, which I had to shoot wide open because I had purchased the wrong model on eBay. The dark background and semi-harsh backlights were there to intensify the water effect. My only worry was the electrical installation; I had to be very careful to get the Profoto generators away from the wet areas, as any electric shock could be fatal. As a test, I invited a couple of friends over. Jon and Yuri had already been told that they would have to sit under a shower in my kitchen with their clothes on, but I only told them that the water was cold seconds before the shoot started. The rest of the brief was simple: sit still, stare right into the camera, don’t close your eyes and don’t show any emotions."
"I ended up inviting quite a few friends to my place," Nicolas added. "I noticed that people were reluctant to show up as soon as they knew that they would have to suffer. My kitchen eventually became known as ‘the torture chamber.’"
The photographer’s RAW image files were processed with Leaf Capture into 16-bit TIFF files, which he then worked on in Photoshop using dodge, burn, curves and hue/saturation controls. No extra sharpening was added.
"I kept some of the test shots,î Nicolas said, ìthe ones done before I opened the water tap. Comparing them to the final shots, its amazing to see how the cold water manages to wash away the vanity, the narcissistic self-image that only leads to mediocre portraits."
Be sure to view the entire great gallery of Rain portraits at Nicolas’ Behance gallery.