Making a custom Cucoloris to create dramatic portraits

Cucoloris portrait with a fresnel by Chicago Photorgapher John Gress

After being inspired by Sophie Palmer’s portrait depicting boredom with a Catholic priest inside the confession booth, below, I decided to try my hand at projecting divine patterns on model Alex Mitchell’s face by making a custom Cucoloris.

Most of the time I am actually really cheap, what a surprise, so rather than buy something made for this task, I decided to poke around the house to see what I could use for a template to carve out shapes in some black poster board. Without much delay, I found these pot stands from IKEA in a kitchen drawer.


After getting a general idea of how I wanted to perforate the poster board, I drew a grid on one side using a 90-degree square ruler and a silver Sharpie.



Next, I traced the silicone saucers with a pen and sawed out holes with an X-ACTO Knife.



An hour later, I had a flag I could use to cast my own holy shadows.


In practice, I found the shapes may have been too close together as the only way I could make it work was to shine a Aputure 120D LED Light with a fresnel through the holes while casting a shadow similar in size to the holes.

I also used the set-up with dance Devon Anthony below.

Chicagoo dramatic headshot photographer John gress

I tried using a Mola Rayo without any success. Nevertheless, I think it was worth the effort. Please let me known what you think!

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