All images and text are Copyright © 2015 James Wang

22 May 2015

In March, I noticed that the monthly magazine Salyse was soliciting submissions for their publication, and their theme for the 1:6 June issue was “ROY G. BIV (COLOR!)”. I was immediately attracted to this theme because I love color and it’s one of the most fascinating aspects of sight, vision, and photography. And when combined with an attractive model, what an irresistable combination!

Since it was for their June issue, and the submission deadline was still two months away, I had plenty of time to develop the concept and work on ideas. And the Internet makes it easy. It wasn’t hard to find a rainbow dress, even if it came from Hong Kong:

2015-03-31 10.50.54x

The Rainbow Dress

And rainbow earrings:

Rainbow Earrings

Rainbow Earrings

And even rainbow socks (photo below).

Even if some of these were coming from overseas, I had plenty of time. I even had time to scout for locations. I was looking for two kinds of locations:

  1. Places with not much color, so that rainbow colors would stand out
  2. Places with solid pastel colors that would complement rainbow colors.

Familiarity with the neighborhood, plus frequent bike rides gave me lots of opportunity to explore. I came up with a list of potential sites:

  • Multi-colored cow in Solana Beach
  • Library patio, colored chairs: bold solid colors
  • La Paloma theatre entrance: soft subdued light; pastel background
  • Orange/purple pastel panel wall next to Hansen’s
  • The Dahlia St former gas station: bold solid colors, choice of yellow or green
  • The underground garage around the corner: soft light, dark background
  • The back lot at abandoned Pacific View school: colorful tile mosaic wall

Any photo shoot takes team work: it’s a cooperative, collaborative effort by a team that requires at a minimum a model, a hair stylist, a makeup artist, and a photographer. Each of these people fulfills a necessary and complementary role. More people may be involved, but not fewer.

It’s usually the photographer’s task to coordinate the people involved. So that was my next task.

I met model Alena at a Dark Cupid shoot in February. That was a big event with dozens of people: models, makeup-artist, hair stylists, organizers, photographers, and people who just came for the party. Alena rocked the set and was super-popular with photographers because of her fantastic looks and her ability to perfectly pose.

And I used her for our Bad Girl shoot which got published Mode Editorial Photo Shoot (you can read my Blog entry for that shoot here: Bad Girl Blog Entry). She’s really busy with a full-time job and a two-year-old daughter, but she’d be the perfect model.

The hair stylist was the easy part – I use Detour Salon. I had met Jarrod, the owner, a few years ago during Classic Car shoot organized by the Encinitas 101 Association. His salon in downtown Encinitas skyrocketed to become a successful business. They have enough talented stylists that they can do a “styleout” with little advance notice (like a day or so).

Finding a makeup-artist (MUA) is a little harder. Makeup artists for photo shoots have to know a little about how makeup looks not just in live view, but also in a photograph. It’s also helpful if the MUA can stick around during the shoot so she or he can touch up the model’s makeup if necessary.

I tried finding MUAs on Model Mayhem and have had mixed results. So I put out a Casting Call and found Jessica: maybe in makeup less than a year, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that she’s passionate about it, she loves her work, she takes pride in performing well, and most importantly, she’s professional and responsible.

Jessica, Make Up Artist

Jessica, Make Up Artist

The next step was finding a time when we’re all available. In spite of modern technology like celphones and SMS and email and Facebook messages and, finding a compatible time took weeks. Finally, one week before the 5/20 magazine deadline, we had an opportunity: Alena was on call for Tuesday, and as long as she wasn’t called in, she might be able to take care of her daughter. Then, day care could take her on Wednesday and she’d be free to shoot.

Once the ball starts rolling, it goes quickly. We scheduled hair styling for Alena at 8:30 AM at Detour Salon. I asked Jessica to meet us there at around 9:30 so we could meet have breakfast together in Encinitas – it’s always good to meet on an informal basis first so we can get to know each other. Then we’d go back to my studio for makeup and to start shooting.

Jessica crafted amazing rainbow eyes:


Jessica at work on Alena’s rainbow eyes

These were far beyond what normal MUAs do because of the plethora of colors
that have to blended just right:

One of Alena's rainbow eyes, created by Jessica

One of Alena’s rainbow eyes, created by Jessica

Not surprisingly, it took over an hour to create such art. We didn’t start shooting until after noon, in my studio, or rather my patio doorway to my studio:

First shot

First shot


Rainbow eyes, rainbow earrings, rainbow necklace, rainbow dress



Next we went to the color cow. We spent a brief time debating whether the cow is strong enough that Alena could sit on it. It looks like it’s made of fiberglass, in which case it’s probably strong enough. Besides, the cow has been there for years; it would be hard to believe that no one has tried sitting on it before, and people a lot heavier than Alena.

So she just jumped on it … no problem! In fact, while she was on it, a guy drove up and unlocked the door to an adjacent office. He didn’t even pause when he saw Alena sitting on the cow, with us taking photos. He mumbled something about, “I see this all the time.”

Speed cow

Speed cow

It was great that Jessica came along and touched up Alena’s makeup. She was also helpful holding reflectors for lighting. But she had a lunch date with her husband (it was already 2 PM!) so she had to go.

Next Alena and I went to the Encinitas library. The children’s section has a patio with colored chairs. We only took a few photos there:

At the Library

At the Library

And I especially like this one of her color-stripe socks and her heels:


Shoes and socks

I finished post-processing the images in time to beat the magazine’s deadline. We’ll have to wait and see if they accept them. We certainly had lots of ROY G BIV in our photos, but their photo spreads tend to be in more
vintage, classy locations rather than having plain black backgrounds or fiberglass cows.

No matter what, it was a fun shoot. IMHO, the biggest benefit was finding a team that works together synergistically: Alena and Jessica.

The comlete set of photos for this shoot can be seen here: ROY G BIV.