Monster Girl Challenge: #1 Harpy

Updated: Jul 13, 2019

A few weeks ago, I threw an idea at my girlfriend that we should do a challenge together. You know the kind: the daily photo challenge type of thing, with simple yet also vague prompts to get the creative juices flowing, usually things like "Selfie" or "Bokeh". Bog standard stuff. But the twist of it was that we were going to do it with different mediums.

Shannon is a digital artist, sketching and painting her work within Photoshop and companion software, so I thought this would be a good time to maybe branch out a little in our chosen fields and stream our creative processes through Twitch. Shannon wasn't too keen on a typical photo challenge, as they tended to be not artist friendly. So she found a different one, one that I read and agreed upon immediately, because hell yeah, Monster Girls. It is meant to be a 30-day challenge, but due to my work schedule, we decided to keep it as a weekly thing.

The first one was Harpy. As a quick descriptor, a harpy is typically a bird with a human woman's head. I had nothing like that on hand, so I had to mash together something on the fly. I did have a rough idea of what I wanted to see in my head, but bringing that to life so I could photograph it was something else entirely, but I loved every minute of it. My final creation consisted of collected bird feathers, a tin foil crow skull hastily sculpted, a £1 lace tablecloth from two Halloweens ago, and a Monster High doll. Lighting was made up of LED strips that I have above my creation station, £1 berry lights, and the light of my second monitor with a white screen on it. Shot mostly on my Sony a77ii with a Sony 35mm 1.8 lens, and edited in Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC.

It was definitely fun to do and I'm so pleased with the results. Having Monster High dolls on hand (or really, any doll with decent articulation) means I can develop photoshoot ideas and test them before trying to do them with human models. Although, the negative of that is then trying to do the math on how much more materials I would need to recreate this on someone much, much bigger than a doll already makes my brain hurt.

If I were to do this again, I would probably attempt to make a true monster instead, maybe splicing two dolls together, or attempting a composite. Though, I am pretty happy with these results, so I doubt I'll do it again.

Next week's prompt is Centaur. Now that is actually going to be pretty interesting for little photographer me... Check out the Harpy stream on my Twitch channel here:

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