First coated in black, the anonymous subjects in Tim Tadder’s portraits are cloaked with hypnotic swirls and thick drips of bright paint. To create the mesmerizing images, the Encinitas, California-based photographer and artist pours a mix of colors over his sitters and snaps a precisely-timed shot to capture each drop as it runs down their necks or splashes from their chins. “There’s something about the human head, and the bald head, and the brain, and that way that everything is here,” Tadder says as he gestures toward his own face. “The soul is here.”
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During Tadder’s shoots, gloopy, viscous paint mixes in swirls and marbled-patterns on the subjects’ heads, which are covered to mask distinct locks of hair. A video (shown below) captures his process and shows models Kimberlee Howe and Mohamed Ouedraogo as they’re drenched in pools of color. As they’re photographed, the subjects often hold their breath and respond similarly to being submerged underwater due to the weight and density of the paint, Tadder says.