For this project, Matt Marcus traveled 7 hours, together with a team of creatives, to the very north of Scotland – Caithness – to produce three fashion editorial shoots spread over three days. Once arriving at his destination he worked throughout multiple locations to portray the aspects of history, landscape, and environments, as well as political undercurrents regarding decaying farming, fishing, and oil industries in the area, resulting in this exceptional series.
Why did you choose this location? How did you prepare for this shoot finding these locations?
I can't take much credit for the locations. Our makeup artist Kayleigh Brock is from Caithness and put together many locations for us to pick from as she knows the area. There were lots of locations, we could have stayed up there shooting for a month! Kayleigh worked hard to locate and log each location, we then developed these into moodboards to follow themes and color schemes to narrow down the locations into 3 days worth of shooting.
Which was the most challenging moment of this project? And your favorite one?
The most challenging part of this project was battling against the weather, being located at the very north of Scotland the weather changed almost hourly, wind and rain for the most part. Almost all the outdoor locations involved working very quickly to save Olivia the model being left too long exposed to the elements, she was very brave to persevere throughout the 3 days of shooting. The favorite part for me was seeing such an amazing part of the country, and being genuinely in awe of the incredible views along the coast we were able to use as a backdrop.
What gear, talking about camera and post-processing, did you use in these series?
All the images were shot on a Canon 5D mkiii. I try to stick shooting using only prime glass, I prefer to be restricted to focal lengths. Having too much choice is often not a good thing. My main 'go to' primes are always 50mm & 85mm - being a portrait photographer I feel most at home switching between both of these lenses. For wider shots required I'll switch to my 24mm-105mm. Regarding lighting, for outdoor shots, I try to only use available light where possible, either using a 7ft scrim to reduce and diffuse harsh light, or a simple 5-in-1 reflector for a little bounce where needed. When on location I prefer to keep things as simple as possible whilst still achieving the optimal results, most of which comes from the direction of the subject. For indoor shots in the series, I use a speedlight with a softbox umbrella - shooting Hi-Speed Sync allows me to have complete control over the ambient light allowing the artificial light to simply act as a fill of a kick where required. My Post-production techniques are very specific and always follow a similar pattern I have developed. I use Lightroom to edit my RAW file as close to the final image as possible, including colour grading, before I then open in Photoshop, using a Wacom tablet for anything involving editing pixels, mainly skin and tidying up any distractions in the frame, then also dodging & burning, local colour adjustments and localised sharpening. I then save the PSD and open it up back in Lightroom again for final adjustments to levels and cropping.
What are the pros and cons of indoor and outdoor shooting? What do you prefer?
The biggest cons of shooting on location are the amount of control you have over the environment and the light, being in unknown territory in both these aspects can be challenging, especially with a lengthy number of shots and locations to get through - Planning for light is essential! The pros of location work are knowing you are probably seeing the environment differently from others and creating something unique, Hopefully! I have my own studio in Glasgow where I do most of my work, which I prefer most of the time - being able to control the light and to have time to experiment is such an advantage. Although I get itchy for location work often!
Who else was part of this big production? And how do you make people feel comfortable working with you?
Makeup artist Kayleigh Brock brought us local knowledge of the area and is a fantastic makeup artist, we work together often and have a similar vision with creative work. Hair & styling was done by Michelle Watson of Kitsch Me Vintage - Michelle is a creative wizard and is bubbling with the most amazing concepts and idea. We used quite a few of her custom headpieces as well as styling an incredible amount of looks over the 3 days - and squeezing it all into one car! Olivia Ross @ Model Team was our incredibly patient and determined model, taking direction and producing amazing result whilst being bombarded with bad weather! Anthony Rainey is regularly my photography assistant and knows my equipment and how I like to shoot - he also takes my artistic mood swings with a pinch of salt! I make any team I work with feel comfortable by being as human as possible throughout the process, I always encourage people to add their own creative spin on any idea and allow them to shine. Also knowing when to take breaks is essential!
Do you have new or similar upcoming projects? Could you tell us a bit more about them?
I'm always working on new projects; my main issue is having too many ideas in the oven at once! This project was unique as I was able to let my hair down and get creative, everyone else in the team was also on the same page - We wanted to create images that were beautiful, weird and majestic all at the same time.
MODEL: Olivia | Instagram
MAKE-UP: Kayleigh Brock | Website | Facebook | Instagram
HAIR & STYLING: Michelle Watson - Kitsch Me Vintage | Facebook | Instagram
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT: Anthony Rainey | Instagram