Jeff Mikkelson says he is going through a “liquid phase,” and his recent series—an editorial shoot for The Forest Magazine—is a testament to that. “Liquid Dreams” is the brainchild of Mikkelson and one of his long-standing collaborators, makeup artist Sylvia Dimaki. “Sylvia wanted to do something with liquid and metallics,” Mikkelson explains, “and as we often do on editorial projects, we exchanged creative ideas and visual references leading up to the shoot, eventually arriving at a basic framework for the story.” He cites nineteenth century Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and deep-space images of the cosmos as specific influences for this series.
Mikkelson says he likes to leave room in his work for improvisation, but this shoot required a bit of planning—the studio he shares in New York City doesn’t have a bathtub or running water, both crucial elements for carrying out the concept. “Fortunately, there’s a sink down the hallway [from my studio], close enough to run a hose from there to an inflatable pool in the studio, which I had bought for a previous water-themed shoot,” he explains. “After we worked that part out, everything else fell into place.”
Mikkelson notes that the model they worked with—Carmen Bruendler, from Women Management—was “mercifully patient—a must, considering that we were dunking her naked into a pool of liquid all day!” Metallic powders sold by MAC Cosmetics were used on both Carmen and the surface of the water. “By the end, the pool looked like a bubbling cauldron of silver, bronze and gold, with the model emerging like a newly cast sculpture,” he elaborates. “The magazine and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.”
“Liquid Dreams”—captured with Mikkelson’s “mainstays,” a Canon 5DS R and Profoto lights, and then edited using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop—garnered Mikkelson First Place in PDN and Rangefinder’s The Body photography contest. Read more about the contest at celebratethebody.com.