It all started during a very cold winter day late 2014 while taking Hudson Valley Glamour Portraits of ilovekickboxing spokesmodel, Teresa Oxford. I was working for the first time with the incredible makeup artist Ivonne Rodriquez of litemakeup. I had first met her years ago when she hired me to take maternity portraits and then met her again during a fall wedding. I had an idea for a glamour shoot so I contacted Ivonne to see if she wanted to collaborate, she said yes! After the shoot, we all enjoyed working with each other and decided to come up with another photoshoot opportunity. I had a previous idea of working with body paint so I mentioned this and both girls were very excited about the possibility. Never having worked with body paint before and knowing Teresa’s beautifully fit build I roamed the internet for ideas of what to do! A few days later I saw an inspiring body painted female Green Lantern image and the lightbulb went off! I contacted Teresa and Ivonne (aka Eve) with the idea and a list of possible female superhero characters and within minutes Teresa started sending me names and images of other fitness models who she thought would be perfect for each character! After that, the seed of this project was planted! I contacted my cousin, Kim, who newly graduated with a B.A. in Fashion Design to help re-design the looks of each of the girls. I did not want a carbon copy of stuff already out there AND I wanted tasteful, classy wardrobes for all of the girls. We decided not to do airbrush painting so the costumes needed to be easy to paint with a brush and sponge technique. Immediately, Kim started researching all of these characters for her designs. Along with Lilly (my daughter), Arielle (another local makeup artist) and Lisa (backdrop painter) our little ‘team’ was assembled! The first paint started in February and finished late July!
All of these models are WBFF Pro Divas in the bikini, fitness and figure categories. They all have committed their life to a healthy, clean and active lifestyle! Incredible beauty both on the inside and out! If ever the comic book characters were to come alive, all of these girls would represent the characters perfectly!
I knew there would be questions from some of the more diehard fans of the comic book world so I am going to describe each of the images to help understand the project fully. And, to also give you a bit of a hands on, behind-the-scenes, what was going through my mind during each character’s session! Hope you enjoy!!
Some final thoughts:
What were your editing decisions?
-As real as these models were I still wanted to bring in an element of illustrated art, therefore, my editing techniques made the final paint job ‘look’ like a drawing. Everything we did was deliberate to keep things classy, not trashy!!
Why fitness models?
-Obviously you are not going to find body types depicted in comic books without your model having some type of muscular physique! The models we used came from all walks of life, many are mothers and some are successful business entrepreneurs, some are even BOTH!
You took liberties with some of the costumes, why?
-We did not want to carbon copy everything out there. Kim came up with the designs in drawings after reading and studying each of these characters, past and present. We used her designs as a pattern to follow for each of the girls. Some designs were slightly adjusted to fit the models.
I really do not get this project…why do it?
-Why not? Nothing like this has been done, well not tastefully! We didn’t want to do yet another smut version of these amazing characters! We wanted to pay respect and homage to the woman superheroes we hardly ever hear about anymore! Where are the female superheroes, and why does she always have to exude sex, sex, sex? Females have come a long way; we are no longer slaves or pawns! It only makes sense for these superheroes to evolve from that outdated vision into a strong, independent, and intelligent, kick your butt to kingdom come persona! Some will love what was done (and understand it fully) and some will hate it. It’s perfectly fine; we appreciate the ones who appreciate the effort we made. But, more importantly, thrilled that finally SOMETHING was done! Hope more respectable depictions are created by other artists!! Wishing it isn’t going to get things DONE!
It has been such an adventure putting this incredible project together! A labor of love, hard work, sweat, some tears and lots of laughter and smiles! Getting to know each of these women has been an honor and blessing! Would love the opportunity to do more projects like this so if you have any ideas or suggestions please send them to me @ www.superheroproject.photographybycarlise.com