All Photos Courtesy of Travis Curry
Lens flare and distortion can add really unique and dramatic looks to your photography. Artists like Ellie Goulding and Kelly Clarkson have used photos with lens flare and distortion for their album covers. You can also see this in a lot of jewelry and perfume advertisements and in TV and film. I find myself inspired by the transitions and lighting on shows like “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Scandal” which often seem like we’re viewing scenes through a prism or peeking through mirrors.
Credits: Model: Vicent | Grooming: Sara Elizabeth
There are so many different techniques and tricks that photographers have been using for years to create unique effects on their photos (and videos.) I hold and move an object in front and around my lens until I get my desired look. You can add some objects to your kit and use them in the studio or take them with you on location; you may even have these at home!
Credits: Model: Abbey | HMUA: Carolyn Thombs
Shooting Through Plexiglass
During a shopping trip to Home Depot I picked up a sheet of plexiglass; it was either Polycarbonate or Acrylic, which I don’t think really matters. I figured I would experiment with adding water drops and splashes to my photos. The plexiglass creates a clear barrier between you and your subject that allows you to create another plane in your image. I’ve experimented with adding water and paint to my images and this yields some fantastic results! You can also use the plexiglass to create a surface your subject can touch, making the photo seem like the subject is touching the lens. I clamp my sheet of plexiglass between two light stands. You need to make sure that your surface is clean (gloves and Windex are your BFF) and be careful when storing because it can scratch easily.
Credits: Model: Felicia | HMUA: Brittany Main
Using Prisms and Crystals
This is a trick that I see a lot of photographers and cinematographers use. When I shoot through prisms and crystals I find that I’m taking a lot of photographs, so I ask my subject to slow down with their posing so I can work with the effects that are happening in camera. The littlest movement can change the entire effect. Autofocus can end up being a pain, so I often switch to manual focus and use Live View to help me see the effects.
Credits: Model: Hailey | HMUA: Sara Elizabeth
I had the hardest time finding a traditional prism, so I found a big diamond prop at Michael’s craft store. It’s served me well, but it is a bit more challenging of an object to shoot through because of its size and shape. I’ve also worked with clear bowls, plastic ornament balls, clear crystal beads and gems. I’ve spent a good hour or two going through the aisles at my craft store testing out different objects to shoot through.
Look for anything that is transparent and colorful. I first experimented by holding up gel sheets against my lens but felt I wanted something that wasn’t as flimsy. I found some clear rulers at a craft store; I hadn’t seen these things since middle school geometry class. I hated geometry but am glad I reunited with these rulers because they add some really rad effects and colors. This would be similar to holding up a gel sheet to your lens, however the colors are more translucent and the plastic makes it easier to keep against your lens. Another cool trick is to use cellophane (found in the gift wrapping section) – you can wrap it around your lens, cover your softbox to make a big gel sheet and bunch it up to increase the color’s intensity and add unique shapes to your shots.
A few tips for shooting with lens distortion:
- Use manual focus to give yourself more control
- Have an assistant hold your item up to the lens
- Look for backlit lighting situations or add backlight to increase the effect
- Set your camera up on a tripod with Live View to help you shoot