Q-Tip Portraits - UPDATE - My Top 10 Shots

Hashing stuff out...compiling a mood board  


My Objective

A bathroom is a private and intimate setting. Most of our time spent here is preferably solitary. This is especially true in your home bathroom after you hop out of the shower. No one is in there to tell you what to do or how to do it. For that little bit of time you're on your own with the freedom to be yourself. A freedom we overlook as simple routine.

Everyone has their own process that takes them from the moment they shut the water off to the final tuck of a wrapped towel.  Many people will admit, however, that they share a common habit of swabbing their ears. This robotic task may be considered a hygienic practice but if you keep the conversation going, you'll hear the pleasurable art of Q-tipping come to light.  For me it is an unavoidable need as soon as my feet hit the bath mat. Like finally achieving a shy sneeze or reaching an impossible itch, feeling the Q-tip clean out that tiny orifice of the ear is simply orgasmic. 

This series takes me to the intimate world of the private bathroom. It beautifies the ritual we like to minimize. Most importantly, it allows viewers to see the uninhibited moment of bliss the individual subjects experience through the simple task of Q-tipping.   

This is a portrait project that I've been wanting to tackle for a while but just didn't know how to approach it.  When I saw that Jonathan was offering this class through Skillshare I then thought, "what a perfect opportunity to test out my idea from start to finish."  I plan on using this course to further develop my idea and hopefully come up with a process/plan to achieve a final product that I am proud of.


Mood Board



The look I'm going for with these portraits is natural. I am going to be shooting each subject in their personal bathroom to allow them to be at ease and feel at home. I'm hoping that the different environments will become characters in themselves and help convey that particular person's range of emotions and personality. I really want each image to look as if it's happening at that second with little to no direction, besides frame composition. I want the subjects to do their thing and pretend like I'm not even there.

On the technical side I will be using existing lighting (daylight or artificial) with no strobes or on-camera flash. I do not want to compress or distort the image so I will be using a normal 50mm lens with my full frame Canon 5d Mark II. I've thought about using a wider lens to show more of the environment, but these photos are much more about the human emotion and that brief moment of bliss. I hope to get a few different setups in each bathroom but also realize that I have a short window to capture what I'm looking for. I don't want to overdue the ear swabbing and have it lose all sensation with the subject and become "fake."

Wish me luck, photos to come.


Shoot -Top 10






Here are the result of my first day of shooting. To me the images work much better as a series rather than individual portraits. This made it hard to narrow down just a couple shots of each model. That being said, I had lots of fun today and think I've developed a process to make the rest of this project run smoothly. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!


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