An artistic photo portrait session with video projection

Female portrait with video projection of ferns

Thierry Allard, photographer at Zebureau photo studio in Lyon (France), experimented with artistic portrait photography using a video projector.

While many photographers have already created photo portraits by projecting stripes or other abstract motifs onto faces or whole bodies, there are relatively few examples of photo portraits created by projecting figurative images onto a face.

Did the photographer’s very first experiment produce any interesting results?
You be the judge!

A first portrait shoot with video projector

With Delphine model, who is passionate about plants and nature, photographer T.Allard chose to complete a classic portrait photo session with an artistic portrait shoot.

To keep in line with the model’s personal universe, the photographer prepared a series of images of plant motifs to be projected onto her face.

The unretouched portraits show the “raw” result obtained directly from the video projector alone.

The session begins with an almost floral motif of a greasy plant that lends a great deal of grace 😉 to the model’s face.

Portrait with video-projected floral motif

This first portrait is taken with a little natural lighting. Interestingly, the shape and features of the face are affected by the projected motif.

The rest of the shoot was spent experimenting with other foliage motifs, such as the palm branch shown here.

Portraits with foliage projected onto face

Positioning the image from the video projector on the face is quite meticulous, thanks to tiny head movements!
For a photographer who doesn’t usually like to be too directive, it’s all about directing the shoot to the millimeter.

The photo shoot takes an even more artistic turn with the fern motif, a first photograph of which illustrates this article.
Delphine’s face even takes on the airs of singer Bjork.

Videoprojection on a face reminiscent of Bjork

The photographer takes on the game of artistic direction and asks the model to assume certain attitudes to increase the strangeness and strength of the portraits.
The prominence of the motifs, which obliterate some of the facial features, encourages the model to be more expressive.

Artistic portrait of Thierry Allard by video projection

These final images, which might appear to be photo montages, were actually produced in a single shot using video projection!
Only some images were colorized in violet in post-production.

The photo shoot reached its artistic climax… An idea is born: to improve the shooting technique and think about other series, with the aim of one day staging an exhibition.

Black and white portrait with video projection

At the end of the session, a last attempt at black and white video projection, with a pattern of foliage drawn like a shadow on a lace veil.

The story behind this photo experiment

The progress of an idea sometimes depends on very little, as shown by this series of images taken by chance in the space of three months in 2017, which anchored in the photographer’s mind the idea of one day scheduling a studio shoot with a video projector!

While reporting on an art exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the photographer discovered the projection of a brick wall at the entrance to the museum.

Video projection of a brick wall on a face

The almost two-tone pattern graphically covered every visitor entering the museum. The photographer asked a young woman to stop for a moment, just long enough to take a few pictures.

Typography projected on faces

A month later, while reporting on an awards ceremony for Modalyon, the fashion portal for the Rhône-Alpes region, students found themselves on stage “under the fire” of a video projector, with letters written on their faces.

Video projection on hair

Finally, a few days later, during a speech presenting an artistic evening, a video projector “tattooed” the hair of an audience member.

The technical constraints of portraiture with video projection


Video projectors have a fairly small zone of sharpness, and sometimes a matrix can appear in bright areas.
Perfect sharpness of the projected pattern will be impossible to achieve over the entire depth of the face, and not always easy to achieve over a precise area, as the model has to be positioned to within a centimeter!

The equipment

Video projection equipment is often imposing and time-consuming to set up, but today there are miniature models – led picoprojectors – that can be mounted on photo tripods, making shooting much easier.

The light

The intensity of the projected light makes it virtually impossible to use other sources of studio lighting, which are too powerful and will obliterate the projected motif.


Of course, it is absolutely forbidden for the model to look directly into the projector lens.

A photographer in search of collaborations

Thierry Allard, the photographer at the Lyon-based studio, would like to improve the video projection shooting process. 
He has no shortage of ideas, and is looking for models who are patient and not too afraid of light in the eyes 😉

It probably won’t be to flatter your ego, since the face isn’t always recognizable, as you’ve seen in some of the photographs illustrating this article, but you’ll be able to walk away with some rather original images of yourself and, why not, take part in an exhibition one day.

So, if you’d like to take part in a free, creative photographic experience and you’re planning a trip to Lyon, France, you can try contacting the photographer directly.

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