This project is a personal project which means that there is no client involved. I do personal projects from time to time so that I can evolve my photography and retouching techniques and to be able to do images just the way I want them.
When you do images for a client you often haves speciﬁc request on image style, what the image should contain etc. So personal project gives a huge artistic freedom. Another reason I created this is to market myself as an artist, I had a feeling that this would go viral. One night I was lying in my bed and I couldn’t sleep and I just got an ide to create this awesome and fun portrait series with a condom challenge theme, since the condom challenge was still viral I thought I would create it as soon as possible. I got the idea 25th of november 2015 and I knew that I had to publish this project before christmas 2015 to get the viral momentum. So I had one month to ﬁnd 11 models that would be willing to have a condom full of water dropped on the head, with the potential of being seen all over the world. I also had to arrange clothing for the models, ﬁnd the time to photograph the project, retouch and publish the project. So the there was a tight deadline. One month is a short period of time for a personal project, specially when you want create a professional result.
The condom challenge is a challenge where you drop a water ﬁlled condom on a persons head with the goal to make it stick on their head. Kind of bizarre challenge but it’s quite fun. The Condom Challenge went viral in 2015 and you can ﬁnd hundreds of videos on youtube.
There were several challenges with creating this image series. The ﬁrst is to be technically “freeze” (stop the motion) of the water and artistically make it look good. I created this with special professional ﬂash (light) equipment that basically can stop any motion. For that I used a broncolor Move 1200 ﬂash pack with up to 1/20.000 of a second. Another challenge is ﬁnding somewhere to shoot this because dropping 50 condoms ﬁlled with water makes can ﬂood an entire room. I ended up buying a huge inﬂatable pool, I placed a chair in the middle of the pool and had the model sit on the chair, this way I would ensure that my whole photo studio wouldn’t be ﬁlled with water. One of the models would stand on a portable stair case and on my command they would drop the water ﬁlled condom and I had to have a precise timing to take the picture when the condom was at the right level. I used a 150cm cm octabox from front/right and a 30x120cm strip box from the back with honeycomb grid to get a nice back light. I always shoot tethered to my Mac Pro so that I can review the images on a larger screen, I also have an external backup of the images at the same time.
Post Production (photoshop)
A third challenge was to get a good composition of the models and the condom. Depending on how you drop the condom (straight from above or a little from the side) the exploding water will take of to diﬀerent angles. I knew that we wouldn’t get a good images on the ﬁrst try on all eleven models. This would mean that all clothing on the models would be wet if we didn’t succeed on the ﬁrst try. Because of this I made a composite (added two images together) in photoshop. So all the images where the shirts are dry is created from several images, one image of the clothing that I shot before and one image with the face, condom and water. This is where photoshop is a great tool. I also did a lot of “dodging and burning” with curves layers to get more of a three dimensional eﬀect in the images. I blended some coloured solid layers into the images to get a nice blu/greenish tone. Afterwards i added some sharpness to the images to bring out the details in the skin, clothing and water.
The advantage of the move pack for this is obviously the flash duration, but also the consistency of light and white balance. For a battery pack it delivers a relly good amount of light. So far I’ve never been in a situation where I don’t have enough light. I also love that the model light is daylight balanced for simpler video shooting, which is great. But thats another subject from this project. Another thing I like about the pack is that it’s small and portable. I’ve been using your competitors battery pack for faster flash duration and it’s heavy/bulky. As a commercial photographer I carry a lot of gear around, everywhere I can save weight is gold. When I fist was looking to invest in gear with fast flash duration I looked at several brands but I found out that broncolor was better in about every aspect. It’s smaller, more powerful, faster flash duration, daylight balanced model light and same or better build quality. I obviously use the Move 1200 L pack with 60x100cm Softbox, 30x120cm Strips and 150cm Octabox.
Project goes viral
The ﬁrst week I published the images i got over 3000 shares on social media and over 50 online magazines wrote about my project, among these 50 some big magazines like Fstoppers and DigitalRev. Several hundred thousands of people have seen the Project. News agencies from around the world have contacted me to publish my images.
I’m Andreas Varro, 31 years old an located in Sweden working as a commercial photographer and digital artist in the area of Stockholm/Örebro with photo studio in both cities. I started my commercial career in 2010 and have worked with both small and global brands. My speciality is creating creative concept images which means images that no one else have. I use photoshop as a tool where i can photograph diﬀerent images (composite) and add them together to create a story in the image. Kind of artistic storytelling.