Creating the Photograph: Jason Lanier’s “Snow Queen”

Creating the Photograph is an original series where photographers teach you about how they conceived an image, shot it, and edited it. The series has a heavy emphasis on teaching readers how to light. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Jason Lanier has worked on a number of really, really super cool concepts in the past; and his recent Snow Queen project continues to show off that sometimes not everything needs to be created in the camera. On his YouTube channel, he uploaded a video taking us behind the scenes on the shoot where you begin to see a lot of what went into the image. Indeed, Jason uses lighting to create enough separation between the subject and the background but also to draw emphasis on key areas of the scene.

Over on his website and his blog, he shows even more photos from the shoot. But here’s what was going through his mind.

The Concept

The concept of the shoot was really something that came up on the spot. I was invited by a fan to visit his studio after announcing on social media that I was flying in for the Imaging USA convention. I answered his invitation and just got a model real quick and then figured it out from there. She had a fur coat that I decided to start shooting her in and I told her to wrap her arms up around her head for a shot. When I did that’s when I saw my vision of what I wanted the shoot to be….a Snow Queen type of a shoot. I wanted to show that you could create something mystical and professional in a very small studio space….(this was a home studio). I shot it and then completed the rest in post to bring it all together.

Gear List

  • Sony A7R II
  • 85mm G Master
  • Two Broncolor MobiLED 1200s
  • The key light modifier was a Broncolor Para 88
  • Rim Light modifier was the Broncolor Strip Box 30×120
  • For fill light I used the Westcott Eyelighter with the Rotolight Neo.

The Shoot

Post Production

To give the viewer some additional clarification I’ll explain further. I chose the color of her coat and replaced the background color of the backdrop so it would match. I then used Gradient Adjustment layers to create the snow effects on a global scale and used a brush to create them locally in some of the shots. I copied some of her coat and replaced areas where it was missing in the image to make it look more like a crown. I didn’t want them to completely match or be completely symmetrical because I wanted it to have a more natural look rather than a mirror image. I used Frequency Separation on the skin.