ISO 100 | 115mm | f 4.0 | 1/250 sec

Walking around with a big smile on my face, acting like life’s good and I haven’t got a care in the world.  Enthusiasm exuding and joviality flowing from my being, I’m the perfect picture of genuine happiness, congeniality, and confidence.  An alternate reality, one which I’m forced to adopt, becomes an exterior display for all to see and admire.  But it’s what people don’t see – what lies behind the mask, that’s most important.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, people show very little interest in the personal lives of others.  As part of normal society, you as an individual are expected to put on your best face and go about your daily tasks acting as though you lead a normal, happy, and satisfying life much like the other 318.9 million individuals who constitute part of the general populace.  No one wants to know that you have doubts or fears, nobody really cares about the things you’re struggling with, and nobody wants to hear about the things that break your heart and make you want to cry yourself to sleep at night.  We’ve grown up thinking that life is about facades, so we wear our masks and move on with our lives, afraid to set down our disguises for fear of the judgment of others.

But eventually it gets old.  Life lived to save-face and please others can be exhausting and stressful, and existence that isn’t genuine quickly loses its appeal.  What choice do we have but to lay down our masks?  Why continue on with life trying to be what everyone wants you to be, living up to expectations that are unrealistic and overwhelming?  In the end, you must surrender to the fact that you are who God made you to be, imperfect and flawed.  No matter how beautiful and fine your mask may be, behind it is real flesh, real emotion, and real life.

So stop trying to live an alternate reality.  Lay down your facade and make yourself vulnerable to others.  Don’t live a lie, be genuine.  Show care and concern for the real lives of other individuals you encounter on a daily basis.  Look beyond the masks and into the hearts, because just like you, they are real people too, with real stories, real struggles, and real lives.  So put your mask away and go live life the way God desires you to.

Getting close to the end.  Only 1 1/2 months to go!
Quick lighting breakdown: I had 4 lights setup for this shot.  One strobe with a honeycomb grid positioned right behind me pointing at the backdrop to give the background that glowing circle effect.  One strobe with a honeycomb grid on a boom-stand above my head for hair/top light.  One strobe with a small softbox to camera left for a soft side fill light.  And one strobe with a beauty dish to camera right acting as my key light.
I composited two shots for this image.  The first shot was to get the main figure’s position.  I held up a stick with a paper cutout in front of me to cast the shadow of the would-be mask over my face.  I then took a separate shot with my head in the position of the imaginary mask.  I then masked this out in post and added some shadowing and highlighting to give the impression of the beveled outline of a mask.
A few other things were done in post like blurring the facial features of the primary character and enhancing the vignette around the subject to add more drama and intrigue to the image.  I also made some color balance adjustments and added some grain and blur to the image for a finishing touch.
There ya go, that’s this week’s image.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Be on the lookout for more coming your way.

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