Sometimes you grab a camera, a model, a stylist, and a makeup artist, and head into a field—just to create something beautiful. That’s exactly what photographer Luke Schneider did when he got the idea for his latest fashion shoot, Troposphere. Luke had a strong hand in manipulating some aspects of the images, but, with a nod to Mother Nature, let other aspects run their own course. With the wind blowing and the sky swirling, Luke knew the air was right to create a look he’d never done before.
Based in Chicago, Luke takes time once or twice a month to do a self-assigned shoot. For his latest project, Luke knew that he wanted to shoot in a field. He envisioned something bold yet fluid, and for his subject to exist in contrast to her background. The key was the lighting. Luke wanted the light to be just subtly strange—for the model to be lit in a way that made the viewer look twice, but not necessarily know why. He says he was looking for lighting that brought the viewer into the image “in the same way that cinematic lighting and framing can pull us into a powerful scene in a movie.”
Strobes yield great exposure for me, which allows me to manipulate—in camera—my subject and background lighting to create a surreal effect.
Luke says the surreal lighting especially shows in images where the model is wearing red. Because the light on the model is so different from the surrounding light, the viewer’s eye must take an extra moment to processes something different from what it would naturally see.
The whole project started in a whirlwind. Luke found out on a Friday that he would be able to do the shoot that Sunday. He immediately got in touch with Naomi Kotter, a wardrobe stylist he often collaborates with, and the two of them set out to cast a model (Leslie Bembinster), get a hair and makeup artist (Andrea Samuels), and find the location that matched Luke’s vision. He sent everyone involved his inspiration board and two days later, they took to the field. There, he gave freedom to the stylists to create a look guided by that inspiration.
Naomi did an incredible job pulling concept-specific pieces from designer Agnes Hamerlik, the wardrobe is just the right amount of feminine, flowy, and weird.
Luke’s images show the very real connection between the subject and the space—the wind in her hair, her involvement with the ground and air—while still allowing the model to pop from her background. Luke’s favorite photograph is the image (shown above) where the model wears a black dress that blows in the wind. He says it was the perfect combination of elements: the hair, wardrobe, makeup, and location worked together to create just the right movement for the image. Luke gives special credit to his photo assistant, Stephen Cheong-Leen, and his entire team, for harmonizing in a way that left only the forces of nature up to chance.
It was just cloudy enough to create a type of motion in the sky behind Leslie.
Luke’s photos were given the name Troposphere for their publication in Schön Magazine. The magazine felt that presence of the wind, sky, and clouds, in the photos gave ode to the layer of the atmostphere where weather can occur. Luke is thrilled with the name and the response to the images so far.
After a team and schedule is in place I get to create in person what was in my mind; that to me is really an amazing thing.
To view more of Luke’s work, visit lukeschneiderphotography.com.