Updated: Aug 28, 2019
This week's prompt was Naga, a part serpent-part humanoid creature that could change into a full human form, and typically resided in the Netherworld, according to many stories in South and Southeast Asian folklore. Which of course sounds cool as heck.
However, I spotted a story on my Facebook feed about the story surrounding Medusa, and how she came to be, and then I found myself down the proverbial rabbit hole that was the myth surrounding Medusa. I also noticed that week 5's prompt is going to be Mermaid, and I felt that doing two creatures with similar physical attributes might be a little repetitive, and therefore solidified my choice in the Gorgon idea instead.
People may recognise the name Medusa from Greek mythology, a winged woman with venomous snakes for hair, and whose powers were that of turning whoever looked at her to stone. She was one of three Gorgon sisters, and the only one of the three who was actually mortal. Medusa was killed by the Greek hero, Perseus, who beheaded her and delivered her head to the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, Athena, who place the head on her shield for protection.
There is a lot more to the Medusa myth and to how she got her powers, but that is something I will bring up at a later date, after more research. A lot of variants exist, and I want to get it right before spreading misinformation. But it is definitely one you should check out if and when you can.
But for this shoot, I was going on her physical appearance: venomous snakes for hair, ones that were actually alive and gave her a terrifying visage. And I also toyed with the idea of turning one of my many dolls into a Medusa figure, but I felt I had done that a lot with the recent shoots, so I stepped in the role of model. Which really set me out of my comfort zone, to be in front of the camera rather than behind it.
So I gave my hair a refresh to enhance my natural curls, as to enhance the snake-like hair of Medusa, and applied my usual make-up routine, with added extras in the form of green eyeshadow and green ombre lipstick. I set my camera up on a small tripod, as well as an external flash on a wireless trigger off to the side. I gave the flash a green cellophane top, to give my overall images a green moody tone.
Once the editing process began, I had an idea of adding snake scales to my face. After a couple of attempts and methods, I found one that stuck and added it to the rest of the images that had my face in them. And it seems to have worked quite well.
Looking at the final images now, I realise there should be some things to take from the shoot as a whole:
1) Being aware of my surroundings!
My background is cluttered, to the point of a fair amount of distraction. Because of my self-conscious mindset of being in the photo and live streaming it all, I simply forgot to add either a sheet behind me or moved to a different area. This has detracted from the images, I feel, and is definitely a thing to be very mindful of in future, if I am to be in more images.
2) A quick coat of paint never hurt anything
This is more down to me being slightly squeezed for time for this stream. Because of my work schedule, it can be difficult to properly time things to land effectively, which meant that when my toy snakes had arrived, it was the day of the shoot and I had no time to paint them as well as my own face. The colours look good in the cage, adding some contrast, but they look out of place in my hair, distracting from the image again.
Overall, it was a massive learning process, from getting myself ready to be in a shoot, to considering my background and props before commencing the shoot. If I shot with a doll instead, I would have absolutely been more focused on getting those things right.
I do have another idea to work with the myth of Medusa, and hope to get on that one day. But for now, please enjoy these images!
Shannon, of Creative Cretin Art, is still adding to her image at the moment, and is streaming her creative process. Head over to www.twitch.tv/creativecretin to find out more about her work!
Thank you for reading! <3