Alicyn Drew Photography | Catching up with the blog and Milk Bath Portraits

Catching up with the blog and Milk Bath Portraits

December 26, 2016  •  1 Comment

I can't believe it's been 10 months since my last blog. Here's a quick catch up, we bought a new house in Springfield, VA and moved, sold the townhouse and then I closed the photography business. Please don't think that I stopped shooting. I closed the business because I found the business aspects destroying the fun of my photography passions and I have a full-time job that pays the bills. I disliked shooting to keep the business open and wanted to pursue my creative ventures. Since closing the business I am having fun again. I've been shooting with a group of cosplayers and experimenting with new techniques. Our new house rocks for photography and I've had some awesome shoots here. Photography is a fun adventure again!!! I am way behind on my blogging. I am also shifting my focus to include more of the how to and the story around each shoot.

During this adventure I got a message from Elizabeth who said she wanted to do a milk bath shoot! I knew of them but had never done one, however, the idea intrigued me. Where to shoot this? How to light it? Do you really fill the tub with milk???? 

Elizabeth and I started to research and I saw a lot of the same types of shoots. They are beautiful but I wanted to add my own style to the images. I also knew I was not going to be successful on my own so I called Alexis a very talented friend of mine. Alexis can make a costume out of anything, she's a talented seamstress and a photographer to boot. So she understands what we're doing. I love pairing up with other photographers!

We read a lot about the process and finally figured out that it didn't seem to matter what you used (creamer, milk, cream, soy milk, dry milk, paint) and settled on a few gallons of whole milk. We also wanted an etherial look so Elizabeth acquired some water-safe LED tea lights and fairy lights. Alexis found some pretty silk flowers and I ordered a slew of peacock feathers from Amazon. I also have a lot of fabric so grabbed everything I could find that was soft and sheer.

The morning of the shoot we got organized. I remember thinking how can I do this in my bathtub, but I remembered one of my favorite photographers Frank Doorhof saying that you can make any location work. We were putting that to the test, right there in my bathroom. When we bought this house we gutted the upstairs bathroom and it had a nice white ceiling and gray walls. It was actually a pretty good set up. As we organized we carefully tested each tea light in a bowl of water making sure that they wouldn't shock Elizabeth in the tub. I'm not big on shocking my models so wanted to be sure we were safe, all tests were good. Finally it was time to start the shoot.

I filled the tub 3/4 full with warm water, then added a gallon and a half of milk. That water was opaque, at about an inch under my hand was gone. So we popped Elizabeth in and set up for the first shots with just the soft white fabric. 

Here's a behind the scenes of the set up, the bathroom was a bit crowded


Here's one of the first resulting images. 


In these images I was happy with the soft look we were getting and I liked that we could see the lights but I felt like they were being overpowered by the flash. I was just bouncing a flash off of the ceiling which gave a lovely even fill. We played around and decided to drop the flash and try the Ice Light on just Elizabeth's face. This would balance the light and allow the glow of the tea lights to show up better while keeping her face lit.

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This worked so much better to give the look we were going for. As you can see here we're now in the holiday mood with red and green fabric and Christmas ornaments. There was lots of giggling as we  tossed the ornaments in the tub. Up until this point we had found that the biggest struggle in a milk bath is that EVERYTHING sinks and you can't find it in the milk!!!! The balls floated!!! This was a joyous revelation. 

In order to keep the tea lights near the surface we had  to use fabric just under the surface of the milk and work the lights and the fabric into some magic that only Alexis understood. Did I mention she is an AMAZING Assistant?!

I like to have fun with these shoots so in the very beginning it's kind of weird. I have a friend in the tub, I'm standing over her with a camera. We're decorating her with fabric. Let's just say it can feel a bit awkward so I did what has always worked in the past. I had Elizabeth be the goof that she is and make funny faces. Later I photoshopped in a few goldfish to go with one of her expressions. I love working with this woman, she is pure fun and an incredible model.


Our last idea was to work with peacock feathers in the tub. They floated!!!! This was exciting, however within a few minutes we also realized that they smelled weird. Poor Elizabeth has now been in the tub over an hour. The water was luke warm and she was getting pruned up. So we shot the feathers and finished up.



So what did I learn???


  • Milkbath photography is fun and you can do a lot with it.
  • The biggest challenges were with things sinking
  • Peacock feathers smell when wet
  • My model was a bit tall for a standard sized tub
  • USE Fabrics! they really add a lovely quality to the images
  • Hair doesn't float!!! We're wondering maybe if we add salt to the water...
  • I might buy a kiddie pool and try this over the summer so there's more room


I want to do this again!!!

Thank you to Elizabeth and Alexis who made this whole thing possible.




Those shots look so cool! My favorite is the goldfish!
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