This week, our project was based on the work of a photographer named Izima Kaoru. Kaoru is known for photographing models who pose as corpses in beautiful clothing and settings to create unique photos. I was very excited about this assignment when it was assigned because I had a lot of ideas swirling in my head. I already felt like I was experienced with taking nice pictures and did not feel like this project would be a daunting task. Unfortunately, this project proved to be harder than I thought.
Originally, I had a lot of enticing ideas of how I could stage my death. When the time came to actually do the project, it was difficult for me to get to the places where I wanted to shoot because I had no ride and I have yet to get my driver’s license. I decided to shoot in my room instead and incorporate an interesting fact I had heard about cats. According to various sources, a cat will eat its owner if its owner has died and there is no other food source. This usually occurs when a person lives alone and dies, leaving their corpse to decompose in their house for however long it takes for someone to find the body. A variety of pets will eat their owner, however, it just so happens that cats show the least amount of hesitation to eat their owner and will only wait 1-2 days before they start feasting on the face and neck.
I wanted my project to be inspired by that fact so I created the story that a person (me) committed suicide by overdosing on medication and then started to get their face eaten by their own cat. The reason I picked suicide is not because I want to commit suicide, but because I couldn’t think of a valid reason to die in bed. I felt like it’s usually the elderly who die in their sleep and didn’t think that it would be believable for an 18 year old to pass away from natural causes.
Executing my vision…..
When I visualized how the photo would come out, I know I wanted somber colors, my cat eating at my face or neck, and everything in the photo to be neutral. I first started with “staging” my room. I took away everything that had color: all my plants, blankets, and other things on the window.
I also looked up tutorials online to learn how to do special fx makeup. I didn’t have many (all) of the supplies the makeup artists recommended such as liquid latex and wax so I improvised with what I had. I used everyday makeup, cotton balls, eyelash glue, and fake blood to make me look a little more dead and eaten.
After the makeup, I changed into neutral colored pajamas (I picked pajamas because I imagined the person would want to be comfortable when they passed) and got cat food because I wanted to try to make it look like the cat was feasting on my neck. By far, working with my cat was the hardest part of this project. Cats are not the most cooperative animals to work with, especially when they get antsy and think they’re going to get food in their usual bowl. My cat is so used to being served food in his bowl that when he saw the cat food he rushed to his bowl despite me trying to guide him to the bed. Trying to take photos, on a timer I might add, with a cat who is running everywhere, not staying on the bed, and is meowing for his food to be put in his bowl instead of on my neck was beyond disastrous.
I eventually got tired of trying to get Louie to cooperate (it was hot and the smell of gravy was really getting to me) and tried to take some pictures without him and with just me.
In conclusion, I did have fun and enjoy this project. Although I was frustrated that my picture didn’t look exactly how I envisioned it, I impressed myself with my special fx makeup. I thought it came out pretty decent despite me not having any fancy supplies. During this project I learned that modeling isn’t as easy as it looks, especially when you’re your own photographer, and that animals are very hard to work with. I have even more respect for photographers now because they have to be aware of angling, lighting, and so much more when taking photos along with coming up with creative ideas.