Elements Series – Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro

Elements Series - Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro | Life of Dahlia
Photo & Edit by Erin Applebee

Earlier last year I started creating a series inspired by the Elements, I had been wanting to do a series for a while but I really just haven’t had the motivation or inspiration to know where to start.

I was really inspired to create a small series based on the Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) because I thought the subjects could create some interesting imagery. As it had been a while since I had done anything like I thought this might be a good series to start with because there will only be four images that I will have to create.

After starting this series I decided that I wanted to not only incorporate makeup but take it an extra step and incorporate my love of photography and art by putting my characters in different environments. I have many skills in areas like photography, photo editing and compositing so I wanted to use this series as a way of getting back into my love of creating characters and sharing their stories through self-portraiture.

My original concept that I started with was fire, I did that back in April of 2018 and I kind of got sidetracked and found it hard to come up with ideas for the other elements. No one said Art was easy right?

So rolls around November and as you know this is about when I decided to take a bit of a break, which I felt like I desperatly needed. Once I took all that pressure off myself ideas started evolving in my head and now here we are after a couple of months of finishing this series and I’m ready to share it with you all.

Elements Series - Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro | Life of Dahlia
Photo by Erin Applebee

Gaia (Inspired by the Earth Element)

The image I’m sharing with you today is ‘Gaia’ inspired by the Earth Element, this image was actually the last image I created, but I think it may actually be my favourite.

I feel like this series has really become about transformation to me, in this image I really wanted to immerse my character into nature and have her almost blending in. I took the images in my backyard and immersed myself in nature by standing in between the plants and placing my camera in front of the plants.

Elements Series - Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro | Life of Dahlia
Photo by Erin Applebee


I wanted my makeup to be more simple for this one but still have a sort of grunginess about it, I went with some green tones on the eyes and contouring. For the skin, I actually had the only concealer on I wanted it to look more natural.

Elements Series - Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro | Life of Dahlia
Photo & Makeup by Erin Applebee

For hair I wore a green wig that I had recently purchased and added a bit of fake moss onto my skin to symbolise that blending with nature. I really wanted to go all out with this but I was pressed for time, as I wanted to make sure that I took them earlier in the day for the best lighting.


I was really inspired by the work of artist Kristy Mitchell, I have her book that features images and diary entries for her series ‘Wonderland’. I love the whimsical aspects of her images and the fact that she primarily takes her images in beautiful natural scenes.

So I wanted to take inspiration from that and actually set my character in a physical scene and not one that I created in Photoshop (which you will get to see in a couple of my other image.)

Elements Series - Gaia (Earth) + Series Intro | Life of Dahlia
Photos by Erin Applebee

The Photographing Process

After setting myself up in my garden, I ran back and forth taking multiple photos and poses to get something that I could work with. I uploaded the images to my computer while I went and washed of my makeup and then loaded them into Lightroom to pick out the best image.

From here I import into Photoshop and this is where the magic happens. I’ll be including a walkthrough video below so that you can how the image started and what I did to get it to its final form.

Video Edit Walkthrough (find all credits at the bottom of this post)

The Editing Process

I just wanted to show a little bit of my editing process, I find it hard time to capture during my editing process because I could be there for hours in some cases, but I want to share a little bit on how I edited this image.

I started with basic edits and fixing some spots in the background, I then fiddled with the moss of her face. From here I added colour using Fineart Actions from Fineartaction.com and then I create a new merged layer of my layers to add extra effects using Photoshop plug-ins from Topaz Labs. I used their Glow plug-in to add some extra glow to the image, Impressions to add a painted or painterly effect and then sometimes I add a texture layer which I will either bring into photoshop alone as a new layer or add via Texture Effects.

I thought that might just give my video some context.

I’m really happy with the final result of this and the other pieces I’m excited to share the rest of the series with you. (I will also be resharing my fire images with a re-edited post.)

Thank you for continuing to read my blog and follow me, to see my whole series check out my Instagram pages, I’ll be sharing this on both of them and you can find all the other posts on my blog.

Instagram: Beauty: @ erinappbeauty, Personal/Art: @ erin_applebee

Until next time, I hope you have a lovely day.


All Photos other than the ones credited below were taken by me (Erin Applebee)

Video Intro Image Credits:
Candle: https://www.pexels.com/@tuca-bianca-116780
Bonfire: https://www.pexels.com/@vladbagacian

Video Music Credits: Meadow by Density & Time

Disclaimer โ€“ This post is not sponsored and doesnโ€™t contain any affiliate links, links included are for reference only in case your interest in checking out anything mentioned in this post. Read full Disclaimer here.

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