How To:Getting Ready for Blacklight Photography
I've gotten lots of questions from customers about what they need for getting ready for my blacklight photoshoots. I get these questions because not a lot of photographers specialize in blacklight photography. I usually do the blacklight makeup myself and all they have to do is show up in clothes that react to blacklight, blacklight contacts (this is optional if you can't put them in) and fluorescent props that show up under blacklight (again this is optional). But I'm going to reveal how I prep people for blacklight photoshoots for you as the reader to know what to expect or how to prepare for the photoshoot yourself if you want to take that option. Preparation time usually take somewhere between thirty minutes to an hour based on skill or how much of your face and body you want to paint.
What You Will Need
White or Fluorescent Green Clothes
UV Reactive Fabric Dye Set x2
Blacklight Contacts (Optional)
Blacklight Mascara or Blacklight Lashes
Eyelash Glue (If you went with the Lashes Option)
Blacklight Lip Gloss
Fluorescent Synthetic Green Wig (Don't want green? How to dye a wig a fluorescent will describe later in the blog)
Fluorescent Props (optional)
WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT USE PURPLE BLACKLIGHT ANYTHING! IT DOES NOT SHOW UP!
The first thing you should do is pick out the clothes you are going to wear. Here are the different colored clothes you can choose from.
White: The safest bet is to pick solid white clothes. Solid white clothes turn a light blue under blacklight all the time. Translucent white clothes do not have the same effect in my experience. This goes for all the other clothes I am going to mention. Also I will reiterate a number of times in this blog that you should not use purple. It does not show up under blacklight but for some reason included in all UV light kits.
Fluorescent Green: It's very easy to detect fluorescent green clothes. If it's painfully bright green, most likely it is flourescent green. But it is also good to double check before purchasing, Either look for the words fluorescent, UV reactive or blacklight if shopping online. Or you can buy a blacklight flashlight and shine it on the clothes if you are shopping in a store.
Fluorescent Pink/Orange/Yellow/Blue: I have had a hard time finding UV reactive clothes in these colors no matter how bright the clothes may be. But it does not mean it is impossible to make your own. You will first need white clothes, a boiling pot of water, blacklight flashlight and UV fabric dye. Follow these steps:
Place the white clothes in a boiling pot of water
Pour the fabric dye of you're choice into the pot and let the white clothes soak in the boiling mixture
Periodically lift the clothes out of the water and shine the blacklight flashlight on the clothes to see how bright it is.
Repeat until clothes are of desired brightness.
The clothes may look like a pale color, but they are still UV reactive.
Eyes anD Eyebrows
Eyes: For everyone who comes into the studio inquiring about blacklight photoshoot, I give them the option of wearing contacts or not. The contacts used are blacklight contacts that you can find on the internet. The blacklight contacts cause the eye to glow, giving an ethereal affect during the blacklight photoshoots. You can find these contacts on any sight that sells colored contacts. Remember though, do not get purple UV contacts. They will not glow. Some people can not handle contacts, but that is okay. You can still do blacklight photoshoots.
Eyeshadow and Eyeliner: There are UV light reactive eyeshadows but I prefer to use UV reactive pigment powders because a little goes a long way. To apply the powder, you MUST apply eyeshadow primer for the pigment powder to adhere to the eyelid. Get creative and use one, two or more colors on the eyelids to get an interesting effect. Afterwards, use UV reactive eyeliner to give the eyeshadow more definition. The eyeliner I use is an eyeliner/mascara duo. You can find these products on Amazon.
Eyelashes or Mascara: You have the option or having a natural look with UV mascara or a more exaggerated look with UV eyelashes. This blog is about how to prep for blacklight photoshoots, so I'm not going to go into detail about how to apply it. But, just know that you need lash glue in order to apply the lashes. And remember, don't use purple (you can really make a drinking game out of how many times I say this).
Eyebrows: Use pigmented powder or UV paint to color the eyebrows. If I were you, I'd use the pigment powder but it does make the eye rows a bit thick. UV paint is horrible to get out of eyebrows but may give you a cleaner look..
You actually have the option of using UV lipstick or UV lipgloss. I personally use the lip gloss. No reason in particular. I just do. I imagine the lipstick is more opaque. The lip gloss on the other hand is translucent. I don't like how it looks on camera usually, so I apply pigment powder to the lips so that the pigment adheres to the lips and make it look opaque. But who knows. You may like the translucent look. Below is a video of what the model looks so far with the steps we've gone through (without the contacts).
Pictured below is UV paint. You can't get them in crayon like form, liquid paint form, or cake form, like in the picture. I prefer the cake form the most for the face and crayon form for the rest of the body because it's easier. If you use the cake form, you're going to need water and paintbrush to rewet the paint when applying it to the skin. The crayon form doesn't need anything extra for application. The liquid paint that I have used in the past looked translucent. Personally, I'm not a fan of UV products that look translucent on my clients but you do you.
Prepping for blacklight photography is much like putting on makeup because I have to contour the face to bring out the shape and structure of the face for a good photo. I would recommend looking at videos about contouring or just makeup tutorials in general to get a good makeup look.
Do NOT use this kind of paint in exchange for UV makeup. This is NOT meant to be put near your eyes and mouth. This is why you need UV makeup specifically for the eyes and mouth
When it comes to wigs, you want to use synthetic hair. Synthetic wigs act much like fabric because you can use UV fabric dye to color a white wig any way you want. To dye the wig, you use the same process to dye fabric to be UV reactive. The only difference between UV reactive wigs and fabric is that white wigs are not UV reactive. You will have to dye the wig either white or blue for it to show up as blue. In this case, fluorescent green wigs are the safest bets because they are easy to spot.
To style your wig, it depends on the style you want and if your synthetic wig is heat proof. If it is not heat proof, LEAVE IT ALONE! But if it is heat proof, you have a variety options. You can use a curling wand or curling iron to get curls in the wigs.
If you want looser curls, you can go the boiling water option. You will need curlers, boiling water and a straight synthetic wig thats already UV reactive. Then you do the following:
Wrap all of the hair in curlers
Place the wig in the boiling water
Boil for 30 minutes to an hour
Remove from water and let dry
Remove curlers once dry
Dont be like me and lay the wig just anywhere! Synthetic hair is notorious for tangling. Put your wigs on a mannequin head or coat rack. Just don't lay it down flat. It will get tangled and you will have to try to detangle it for a long time when you want to use it again...as seen in the video below.
Also please wear a wig cap when putting on a wig. If you have silky hair, the wig will slip right off your head. If you have more of an Afro-centric curly hair then it will most likely get tangled in your hair and it will be horrible to get out.
There's not much I can write here besides just taking a blacklight flashlight and shining it on solid white and fluorescent colors. Or if you're buying your props online, just look for the words blacklight, fluorescent or UV reactive.
You should look something like the photo below or above based on if you went with contacts or not. You'll save the person doing the photoshoot a lot of time or if you have a good enough camera phone, you can shine the blacklight on your face and take some really cool pictures. The photo below was done on my camera phone while the photo at the beginning of the blog was done on my Nikon D5600.
I hope this helps those who are interested in either taking up blacklight photography or considering doing a blacklight photoshoot. It may not look good the first couple of times but with practice, you will get better at prepping for a blacklight photoshoot.
And remember...don't use purple.
If you have any furtherer questions, leave your question in the comments and I will get back to you. Have a good day!