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  • Writer's pictureRichard Wood

Day of the Dead - The Process

This is a behind the scenes look at a fraction of the work that goes into one of my images. I have two incredible stylists Abby Schofield Hair Candice Dear Makeup Artist that don't even flinch when I show them my sketches and visions for a shoot. I pushed them to their limits but have never stumbled over anything yet they cannot do. This video is a behind the scenes look at almost an entire days set up, so I definitely have my model and her patience to thank too. Holly. Thanks to Mayer - Broadcast & Media for shooting the footage for this reel.

I honestly believe there's one thing better than winning a Gold Distinction on a print.... and that's the journey in creating it. Thats by far the BEST part.

The costume I created out of spare medical model bones from the hospital. You'll see vertebrae, ribs, femurs etc etc. The chest piece is even made from an inverted sternum. Theyre all mounted onto a wire frame. The skulls I moulded in plaster of Paris. The headpiece is a design Ive finally come up with that is extremely sturdy. Its made from a plastic skull, BBQ skewers and loads of small brass filigree pieces..... plus a tonne of hot glue. All up it took me a number of days to create.

The marigolds I planted the garden full of in planning last spring. Our backyard was extremely orange. It was amazing how much less they looked once I had dried them all down. I then strung them all through some late nights. Marigolds are grown and handpicked especially for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico which I've been lucky enough to experience off the beaten track. The cemeteries at night are a sea of orange glowing by candle light.

The monarch butterflies by coincidence come swarming in their thousands into parts of Mexico at the Day of the Dead celebration days. Some believe they are the souls of the dead. I planted a dozen swan plants in the garden which created many caterpillars. Often the paper wasps kill everything where I am and you rarely see a chrysalis so I converted a small green house into a butterfly house by placing bird netting over its frame. Larger caterpillars were transplanted on to the swan plants in there for safety and we had well over 100 go through. Occasionally one wouldn't make it and I would keep those in a container for the shoot. The rest were set free once they were fluttering.

I had big discussions with my sister in law Liliana Calva around the meanings of the day and reflected on the days I was lucky enough to have there during the festivals. In the end this was a commission for Lili who now lives here in NZ far from home. I tried to enrapture the 'Spirit' of 'Dia de los Muertos' I call it 'Between Worlds' and it symbolises the mystery of that life and death veil.

Oh!....... and it has an augmented reality function. So when viewed through your phone camera with the ARTIVIVE app installed. It comes to life.... kind of like below.

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