Behind the Project: Water Wigs!

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on that were especially admired in our community. This time, we spoke with Tim Tadder, a photographer and visual communicator in Los Angeles. His epic Water Wigs project got a staggering 740,000 views, was featured on Reddit, and practically became a meme in the 2 months since it’s been posted. We must admit, we’ve been dying to know how these were accomplished – Tadder divulges his inspiration and process below. 

What was your inspiration for this project?
I had seen the show Time Warp (a slow-motion piece showing a water balloon hitting face) – and thought we could do a similar thing with photography. I wanted to do it with portraits – as you will see from Time Warp, they’re throwing water at a face, which was something I really didn’t want to do.  Also, I had seen a project on Behance where someone had thrown a balloon at a person’s face, and it didn’t have the jump I was looking for.

I wanted to create a still face amidst this explosion of energy. We then began exploring the idea with a mannequin in our studio, and found that when we threw the balloons straight down, it created a hair-like effect. We then figured bald men would make the perfect subjects to really show the effect of the water and the wig/hat like shapes really created an arresting comical image.

Can you describe your process in creating this project?
This is pretty intense, and I do not recommend it to people that are not experienced working with water and electricity! We had to use lots of power to freeze the water, and there was quite a bit of mess. I’d rather skip the details and just say I learned about how to do it online from people shooting exploding balloons, I then modified it to shoot people. It just expanded the scale and the size of the mess.

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on Behance?
Not at all. We have been doing lots of personal projects this year to expand our offering and break out of a style we are know for. We did the future sports project, the Fish Heads, a boxing project, (some others that were epic fails) and then this project. Each one seemed to be better than the previous execution. I think with this one its really something totally different.

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
Quite a few. We did 4 different evening shoots, and each time we got a little better at controlling and getting the shape and effect we wanted. By the forth shoot we could do exactly what we wanted to. The first shoot was kind of a mess and not nearly as fruitful. We also had a few days of trying and failing in the studio with the mannequin – this prep work was where the meat of the project was perfected.

Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
I feel we just started! I would like to work with women and explore this more. I really think the bald men were great but I want to create a series of images with purpose and would love to shoot cancer patients and raise awareness for the disease and create an epic set of images with bald women and men suffering from the effect of chemo. If done correctly the images would really help and be amazing to look at..

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project?  (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).
It’s been huge, I can not even keep track of all the crazy inquires and blog posts. Its awesome! I have not yet receive any particular commissions but I am hoping that we will be able to execute this idea commercially or at least someone creative will help me make a good application of this eye candy. I would really like to do something useful with the approach, I think the cancer patients would be awesome, and make people think…that really the power of the image, these are cool to look at but if they had a backend that made them significant they would really help.