Dive into the portfolio of Virginia Kluiters and you’ll see a fascinating myriad of work. You’ll spot fashion portraits and conceptual projects too. Believe it or not, the best fashion photography we’ve seen embraces the ethereal. And so it’s not surprising that Virginia just won Getty Images and Dove’s #ShowUs grant. On one side of her website, you’ll find tons of fashion that’s working to smash traditional stereotypes. Behind the more personal side, you’ll find an intriguing series called Reframing History. And if you’re a fan of paintings, you’re going to adore what Virginia did.
This shoot was actually my thesis when I was in college. I have always had an interest in art, and when I was a child, I loved looking at the paintings in museums which were created by masters of the craft. However, these paintings often depict scenes of violence, specifically against women, and the prevalence of this gendered violence in art hasn’t been discussed enough historically.
I felt a kinship with the women in the paintings, because although I was born hundreds of years later, I have experienced and seen many of my fellow women face instances of sexism. I decided to align myself with the women in these paintings by projecting the works onto my body and photographing myself in their places.
If I did this shoot again today, I would want to use some updated equipment, and it would be useful to have additional (low) lighting sources for a little fill. I also would have liked to raise the projector higher and play with the angles of the projections more. However, I shot this in my apartment and was limited by space at the time.
At the time this photo was taken, I was a student in college and couldn’t afford a lot of nice gear. This was shot on one of my first cameras, the Nikon D7000, with its 18-105 mm kit lens on a Manfrotto tripod. I used a projector as my light source.
Once I had my idea, I searched for different paintings that I wanted to project onto myself. I looked for ones which would be visually interesting to photograph and that fit the theme. The painting I used in this photo is The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Peter Paul Rubens. To tie into the theme of modern-day sexual violence, I chose to shoot this on my bed. I draped sheets around me to create a canvas which I could project onto. I experimented with different positions for the projector during the shoot, and for this shot, the projector was fairly level with the subject/bed. I used my tripod to get the camera a couple of feet above the bed and tilted it slightly downward. I set the focus manually on the bed, and then set a 10 second timer with the image mode on burst.
When I began to shoot, the process of posing was experimental since I couldn’t see exactly what my position looked like in real time. I moved around when the photos were being taken, interacting with the sheets and projections around me in order to create the effect of movement in my images.
Post-production was fairly light on this. I added some contrast to the images and did a little dodging so that I’d stand out more against the shadows. I also made the projected painting more saturated so it would pop.
About Virginia Kluiters
Virginia Kluiters is a fashion, beauty, and fine art photographer in the greater NYC area, working with brands and publications to produce dynamic commercial and editorial work.
As a former creative copywriter, Virginia appreciates the art of storytelling and shoots her subjects with a narrative focus, using creative lighting and color combinations to create ethereal scenes. She is particularly passionate about women’s stories and strives to celebrate a diverse range of femininity in her body of work.
Her photographs can be found in publications including Paper Magazine, Grazia USA, Elle Bulgaria, L’Officiel Brasil, and more. In 2017 Virginia was a finalist in the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards in the “open theme” category, and in 2022 she won the #ShowUs Grant presented by Getty Images x Dove. This grant aims to promote diversity within creative commercial content and elevates the work and the voices of women photographers.