Maria Solis knows that her wedding will likely end up being mostly about her.

So Solis wanted engagement photos that would reflect one of her fiancé’s interests: zombies.

Solis’ idea led her to photographer Mike Long of Portland Pin-Ups studio in Northeast Portland. The result was a series of photos that turned Solis and her fiancé Gary Morrison, both of Olympia, Washington, into zombies, with help from makeup and digital editing.

Solis said she searched for weeks to find a photographer who could incorporate Morrison’s lifelong interest in zombies. He has a vast collection of movies and comics and has multiple zombie-themed tattoos, including a bite on his shoulder and images of Marvel superheroes as zombies on his back, Solis said.

“I’m the girly-girl and he’s the zombie lover,” Solis said. “I wanted it to be about him (and) I wanted it to be something he enjoyed.”

Long, originally from London, started shooting pin-ups after learning a few poses from a Portland model. Now he takes photos of everyday women transformed into pin-up models, digitally placed in a scene or with a colored background.

Long was excited to hear Solis’ idea. But he also knew he would have to be creative to make his clients look appealing as zombies. He’d done a Frankenstein-styled shoot before, but not zombies. 

“Green, dead flesh is not sexy,” Long said.

The photo shoot lasted about three hours, Long said. He worked with his staff to apply makeup, such as scars and scratches, to turn the pair into zombies. For props, Morrison held a banana that was then substituted for a chainsaw with digital editing. Long shot the photos on a white background and then inserted scenes, some of which featured photos he’d taken of Detroit. The couple’s skin was also tinted gray during editing.

Although the couple envisioned just a few photos, Long helped turn the shoot into a storyline. Three of the photos show Morrison becoming a zombie in rapid succession. A zombie version of Solis chases Morrison and bites him on the shoulder, with the final photo in the series showing the couple, now both zombies, sitting back to back on a tombstone and holding hands.

Morrison and Solis, who met in a bar, were thrilled with the results. Solis used the series of photos as the save the date announcements for their June wedding and also plans to incorporate the shots into their guestbook.

“It was really fun,” Solis said. “It turned into some great work.”

Long can now add zombies to the list of unique shoots he’s done since starting Portland Pin-Ups nearly a decade ago. He credits the city’s quirky culture for fostering his business.

“I love it,” he said. “It could have only really have been born in Portland, which I’m quite proud about.” 

–Laura Frazier

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