I recently had the opportunity to photograph Rick Genest- also known as Zombie Boy or Rico the Zombie. The photoshoot was for the March, 2013 cover of Rebel Ink Magazine. Zombie Boy is a model and sideshow performer who is famous for his zombie-skeleton tattoo covering almost his entire body. You may have seen him featured in major fashion advertising campaigns, Lady Gaga music Videos, and even a tattoo removal make-up commercial. Whether you’re a fan of his tattoos or not, I can say that Rico the Zombie is truly stunning to look at, and it’s impossible to keep your eyes off him.


The main image was inspired by an classic image created by Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman called In Voluptate Mors. We chose to create a similar image with Zombie Boy because the visual portrayal of the skull goes along with the theme of the tattoo artwork decorating his “human canvas”. The women in the photographs are also covered in real tattoos, and were cast based on their position in the skull. In the actual magazine cover, you’ll notice the girls are wearing underwear.

With Rebel Ink being carried in stores, and this shot being intended for the cover, we needed the models to have some kind of clothing on… Now, Obviously the better of these shots is the nude version because the underwear, even though its flesh toned, is a little distracting. Not only does it cover up their tattooos, but it creates breaks in the otherwise continuous natural lines of the human body. So, I shot a version with clothing, and one without, then used the plates to make two versions of the same image. The reason behind this multi purposed. One reason was so the client could have the nude image to use in other places such as their website, and the other being I wanted the less distracting version for my own portfolio.



When creating these images, another reference I took from classic artwork was the “memento mori“. You may notice a skull hidden in the corner of some of the images. Many of the early painters who inspire my work implemented this type of symbolism in their own paintings. By placing a skull or another object hidden in the image, the artist is reminding the viewer to be mindful of their mortality. Literally translated, Memento mori means “remember your mortality.” I wanted to utilize this in my own images because you often hear people talking about the permanence of tattoos in a negative context. Bringing this extra skull into the image was my reminder that, like the rest of our bodies, the tattoos will fade.



If you’re wondering how these images were created, keep an eye out for a video tutorial I will be releasing in the near future. The video will featuring an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the studio lighting, color grading, and other technical elements that went into these photographs.


Special Thanks:
Publication: Rebel Ink Magazine March 2013 Issue
Creative Direction: Paul Gambino at Enoble Media
Zombie Boy / Rick Genest Official Site: http://www.rickgenest.com
Female Models: Adrian Louise, Kat Kalashnikov, Sailor Mary, Lindsay Hibbard, Kleio Valentien, Erica Savage,
Casting Director: Steve Prue
Assistants: Cory Jenkins, Jesse Korman, Dave Krysl, Luke Fontana, Oscar Zabala
Behind the Scenes: James Zanoni
Skin / Hair Retoucher: Pratik Naik

  • March 14-2013, 12:51 am
    Crazy good as always Joey. You could have just left it at the lead image and I'd have spent hours figuring it out. But you went and gave us a whole blog post. I feel spoiled.
  • March 14-2013, 12:57 am
    A very unique model for sure ! Interesting background too - but it works well. Incredible amounts of detail and loving the sheer amount of tonality captured here. Great job !
  • March 14-2013, 01:29 am
    superb shoot, get to learn so many things from you Joey, keep it up brother, best wishes for you
  • March 14-2013, 01:32 am
    Incredible work. It's amazing to me how you are able to depart from your normal/regular subjects yet still retain your signature style. On another note, the GoPro on top of the PhaseOne - are we getting some footage from the shoot?!
  • March 14-2013, 02:43 am
    Great images. This guy is mesmerizing. He is memento mori himself. Surprised you didn't include yourself in the image like Dalí did ;-)
  • Swade
    March 14-2013, 04:39 am
    Is your assistant Dave Krysl from Colorado?
  • admin
    March 14-2013, 06:46 am
    Yes it is!
  • March 14-2013, 09:38 am
    Stunning, just stunning images. The first one is world class!
  • Wayne Shyduik
    March 14-2013, 11:30 am
    The shading on the nude figures skull is sublime!
  • March 14-2013, 02:52 pm
    Wow.. just amazing...
  • Leonardo
    March 14-2013, 02:59 pm
    Fucking amazing! So sublime and real! #KillMe
  • March 14-2013, 03:44 pm
    I personally think your composition looks more "skully" than the original. The proportions are closer to a real skull and the overall look is more angular. Emphasizing the cheekbones with a simple flexing from the hips in the models makes all the difference. Very nice job!
  • March 14-2013, 05:11 pm
    Stunning images man, look forward to the bts video. Are sets like this hand painted and built specifically for each shoot?
  • admin
    March 14-2013, 05:30 pm
    This is the pre-existing faux finish wall at Ten Ton Studio. I chose the studio for this wall alone! http://www.tentonstudio.com
  • March 14-2013, 07:37 pm
    Fantastic work as always. I especially like the group shot, Zombie Boy looks a little vulnerable to me, his harem subservient to him, yet empowered. To me its a very strong and subtle image. I shall look forward to the BTS very much.
  • Aaron
    March 15-2013, 02:38 am
    Your lighting & vision is CRAZY! I'm constantly inspired by your work!
  • March 15-2013, 08:22 am
    Thanks, love the look!
  • Agamemnon
    March 16-2013, 04:00 pm
    Sambagpula țâțe și cur. What gift photography is.
  • Luca Zizioli
    March 17-2013, 01:48 pm
    WOW congratulations Joey! It's fantastic!
  • March 18-2013, 01:00 am
    these are insanely and crazily cool - I love love love Salvador Dali and surrealism in general. These images speak to me.
  • [...] Source: joeyl [...]
  • Nick
    March 19-2013, 05:01 am
    I am so hyper about hearing your new tutorial!
  • March 20-2013, 08:40 pm
    wow great! i like the pica's. I like this style Greats Sander from the Netherlands
  • March 26-2013, 08:49 pm
    This is amazing! Love your work!
  • April 15-2013, 03:43 pm
    Absolutely Stunning! Nice job using a concept but making it your own!
  • brian
    May 02-2013, 11:47 am
    u made him pose like a female in some of those shots
  • May 02-2013, 11:28 pm
    Very interesting concept and lighting. I really enjoy your approach to the lighting for this series of images, it has a very gentle touch over your objects with very smooth falloff which kind of wraps around the models. It is a such a pleasure seeing your work!!!!
  • May 05-2013, 03:03 pm
    Increible... excelente trabajo Joey... I love this portraits... Thank you for sharing it with us!!! Pedro from Vigo, Spain
  • jesus
    June 01-2013, 11:29 am
    waiting for that tutorial, thanks . you are the best.
  • June 16-2013, 01:48 am
    It seems all the adjectives to describe this series are taken!lol the images are so powerful. the trick for me is to stop trying to figure out the technical stuff,and just allow myself to feel.has "jaw dropping" been taken?
  • June 23-2013, 07:50 am
    Man... I am totally facinated - the expression in the photos with the scull is so stunning. Really love it
  • July 22-2013, 05:36 am
    You have done Dali's work justice. Bravo
  • Jess Bothma
    November 18-2013, 07:04 pm
    Wow... as a photography student and an avid fan of Rick Genest - this was a Christmas prezzie :P Keep up your amazing work and I look forward to seeing more :)
  • [...] CCLine et son univers magique, le tout en utilisant du vieux matériel. Joey L. nous emmène dans l’univers de Zombie Boy. Des danseuses de ballet dans les rues de New York. Les paysages humains surréels d’Angelo [...]
  • […] Photographer Joey L. use a classic image from Salvador Dali as inspiration for his latest shoot with Zombie boy Ric for Rebel Ink Magazine and the results are outstanding. It’s not easy to create a new image of one of the most photographed tattooed models but Joey L managed to. Not only that but he’s also willing to share his secrets of what it take to create cover worthy tattoo photography. Check out the teaser for his tutorial above or see more results from the shoot over on his blog. […]
  • November 07-2014, 04:00 pm
    Damn! This is incredible. I love how you take a classic photo, do a modern remake, then take the dial up to 11. Sick work.
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