MTV’s Beauty Academy Gets Damn Ugly

When she’s not applying powder & lip gloss to my subjects, Kelly Stedman…my good friend and makeup artist of the past 15 years…has been producing reality shows, and for quite a while she’s been trying to include me in one of her little projects. I have always declined because I don’t really have a desire to get thrown into some televised ‘reality’ drama, but last month she asked if I could help her out on a new show she’s doing for MTV on a Beauty School in New Jersey and I finally caved in and agreed to give it a go. The show follows hair stylists Thomas McKiver and Oscar Bond and a group of students at The Bond Academy. Thomas and Oscar put the kids through the paces, and as incentives the top students get to assist them on photo shoots. That’s where I come in. For the first shoot, my crew and I trucked out to Bloomfield NJ on one of the hottest days of the year to set up a fantasy hair shoot in a third-floor walk-up, un-airconditioned Salsa Dance Studio. Here is some of the fun that ensued…..

My assistants Vivian Alban and Alex Minkin stand in for the models…

Kaz and I on set…

Hair stylist Thomas McKiver checks how things are looking…

The video and sound crew guys…

Don’t stare at the hair…don’t stare at the hair…..

Try not to mix up the model’s names…

Tall, skinny models on set, please…

Happy models…

…and happy students…

And here is some of how it all looked in the end…

Lauren B…



8 thoughts on “MTV’s Beauty Academy Gets Damn Ugly

  1. Really cool use of gels and ring flash. I’ve never seen a lighting setup like this one. Btw why are Lauren b’s hands so dirty in the open arms shot?

    Dirty?!! Nah….just shadows…Lauren’s VERY clean!!! BT

  2. BT, nice. If musician’s shed to learn, what to photogs do? What ever it is, it is what I am going to do tonight because I have not yet mastered the art of the ring-flash shadow. I can imagine in my mind that it has to do with distance rations between background, subject, and light. Just need some time in the shed to figure it all out.

    I’m not gonna say it’s ‘easy’, but just look around my website and you’ll see about 50 different ways to use a ringlight…and a lotta times you don’t even know it’s there…..BT

  3. Nice Photo-TV-Drama 😉
    Is it just 1 Ringflash + blue gel?
    The skin doesn´t look blueish- Post-Production or magic?

    Best Martin

    Yes on the single ringflash lighting, but no on the blue gel. I just white balanced the shot really cool…4000K cool…and at the level you will easily shift a white seamless and all the shadows towards a lovely sky blue color but still keep enough warmth in the skin tones that you can bring them back to more pleasing human level in post. So yes, there is a bit of Photoshop Phuckery to keep the models from looking cold & dead, but not that much. I just went into ‘Selective Color’ and amp-up the red and yellow channels to regenerate a nice skin tone, while also heightening the blue and cyan channels to accentuate the blue cast. BT

  4. Cool, fun stuff as usual. And I have to say, it is really, really great of you to share thoughts and technical with others. Very cool on your part. So, what is that computer holder/stand? Manfrotto? I’ve been looking for one to put on a stand or tripod and the ones I’ve seen have been a bit dodgy. Thanks!

    After looking at a TON of different tripod-top computer trays, I settled on probably the simplest one I saw…the Dura-Mount Laptop Tray…20 bucks and it does everything you will ever need, which is to basically just hold the damned laptop! I looked at trays that cost up to $150 and just shook my head wondering what the point was. BT

  5. Have you ever considered doing a seminar at Photo Expo at the Javits???? I think you would be a sell out. Thanks again for the info. I am now a huge fan of Selective Color……

    Hey…I’d certainly be up for it, but I have never really gone after anything along those lines. I was supposed to do a Santa Fe Workshop last summer, but it got cancelled at the last minute. BT

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