Snapshots: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 2)


A picture is worth a thousand words.  But can a series of photos tell a story?  That is the goal of every photographer as they create their stories.  Each image can be as evocative as a painting full of detail, emotion, and narrative.  That’s what we wanted to capture in Femme Fatales, the latest Master Mystery Production.  We’re creating a sort of murderous I Spy game where our chic guests pore over pictures revealing sinister secrets and shocking conclusions.  What did Willow discover?  Only a frozen image is left behind.

SNAPSHOTS: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 2)

I Spy with my little eyes…someone in deep distress.

The conceit for Femme Fatales was built around the victim of the crime: a murdered supermodel backstage at a fashion show.  We wanted, as always, to try something new with how we presented the clues.  Models have to convey emotion, an idea, a concept, a reality in their print work in order to sell a brand.  Fashion photography is a huge part of the fashion industry.  And pictures tell stories.  That’s how the idea was born.

Heather McGaha photographed by Michelle Stallings

Our photographer, the fabulous Michelle Stallings, whose work has been featured in past Master Mystery Productions such as Goodbye Hollywood, Bury Me in Paris, and Anonymous, has been trained in photography and, very importantly, in action shots.  This meant she could capture hard-to-catch moments of people in motion.  So if Willow made a sharp, sudden move like ripping something in half or yelling at someone or turning to leave, our photographer would be there to snatch it.


We decided to contrast the glamour of the fashion images in beautiful clothes and accessories with the harsher, less glamorous story picture backstage.  So during our photo shoots, we’d shoot the fashion shots followed by carefully structured backstage pictures.  In a way, those story pictures were like acting in pantomime.  No set script, but a scenario we wrote out describing what we wanted to happen.  Heather McGaha, our model and a very accomplished actress, had to make sure every emotion read clearly and easily on her face.  Because Willow’s emotions are the clearest clue to what is happening to her and in this mystery.

What happened behind the scenes?

But it’s not just these backstage photos that assist in the storytelling.  We also printed our fashion photos as pages in Femme Fatales magazine and decorated them: making them look torn out or photocopied or marked with notes or circled, etc.  These little details–visual instead of linguistic–will add to the mystery, creating a timeline or unveiling character’s feelings without using plain English.  It’s a picture puzzle, and only by organizing and putting the pieces all together in the right order will the big picture be revealed.


It’ll be interesting to see how our fashionable guests will stitch together these disparate images into a coherent story.  Because it’s not just about that the picture shows, but what the picture and the markings mean.  Why would a certain image be circled?  What is happening in the picture?  Why were certain pictures rejected over others?  Answering those questions (through lots of lively debate) will bring our stunning sleuths closer to untangling the puzzle behind Willow’s murder.


So that is how we intend to use pictures as puzzle pieces.  But one of the more fun aspects of Femme Fatales is the fashion, becoming a supersized version of childhood dress up.  Learn the origins behind some of our superb styling and fierce fashions (Some of which may be familiar to MMP fans) in the final installment of our behind-the-camera series Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead In It: The Making of Femme Fatales (Part 3)!

It’s almost showtime!  We can’t wait!

–Master Mystery Productions

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