We link back up with Mark Walker as he shares with us his interpretations of our Villains weekly theme. Focusing on the golden era of straight forward scum and villainy as opposed to todays murky motivations by creating some impressive digital compositions.
Exclusive Shoot for Villains Week by Mark Walker
For this week’s ‘Villains’ theme I was initially going to head out into the garden, armed with a selection of fiendish figures and my Nikon D700 ready to shoot some action shots. But as I prepared my Dirty Half Dozen I started thinking about the word ‘Villain’ and what images it conjured up.
To me a true ‘Villain’ is a character from a by gone era of swashbuckling adventure and tales of daring do – more than just a Bad Guy, a Villain personifies evil and well, Villainy!
Regarding this the trouble with many modern Baddies or Villains is the strokes of grey their actions are painted in – Vader is redeemed, Skyfall’s Raoul Silva was left by his government to die, Harry Osbourne just wanted to avenge his Father’s murder, and the Hyenas in The Lion King just didn’t want to starve to death! My intention with this series of images was to drag some modern Bad Guys back into that golden age of movie villains by creating something akin to classic 1950’s movie posters. Once I did the first one though (I started with Kylo Ren) I realised I was taking subconscious inspiration from the old ‘VS’ style boxing posters so this style ended up being incorporated too.
I started the series with a whole bunch of Villainous figures – including a few that didn’t make the final cut – and rathe than the images I began with the wording (this was how I discovered which would work best as I couldn’t think of a good enough pun to use with the likes of Deathstroke!) Once I had four or five lines for each poster I shot the figures against a plain white background using a single continuous side light to the right and a reflector to the left. I tried to create a posed look to each character rather than an action shot, again taking inspiration from those old boxing posters from the 1960s and shot from a low angle using a macro lens to create the illusion of scale, giving them an imposing posture.
Choosing the figures themselves was relatively easy. Even though I don’t have a huge collection to choose from, I was drawn straight to my major love in pop culture, Star Wars. Vader and Ren fit the bill rather nicely and although they both fall into that ‘shades of grey’ category their actions are both pretty damn villainous! Second, it was my love of comics and who better than two of the greatest Superheroes’ greatest villains? In Spider-Man 2 Otto ‘Doctor Octopus’ Octavius is portrayed as a tragic figure pushed into his crimes by the loss of his wife, and even The Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime himself has been given many back stories, some very tragic and enough to send anyone over the edge!
Even so, both easily fall into the classic villain mould rather nicely. Lastly, and arguably to most outright villainous of my Rogues Gallery were the characters from Doctor Who. the Cybermen are up there with the Daleks as real old school foes for The Time Lord, with The Silence being a new school villain with a classic ‘run and hide behind the sofa’ vibe.
It was then just a case of editing each poster together in Photoshop using about twenty to thirty layers each. The secret was imperfection and by taking small chunks out of the images and text using the eraser tool an aged, worn look was created. Finding something a little different visually for each one was also a welcome challenge – things like the Imperial insignia for Vader and Gallifreyan symbols on The Silence were a last minute addition as was the Big Top for The Joker.
These were great fun to write, shoot and edit together! I hope they conjured up images of that golden age of pop culture Villains for you too.
Oe of the reasons we started our Weekly Themes is to challenge the community to re-think about their interpretations of the themes themselves just as Mark has done here by creating this incredible compositions. Be sure to head over to Mark’s page on Instagram @markwalkerphoto for more amazing photography.