Out of the blue on a day in December, I received a call from the Sony Nashville Creative Director to talk about shooting for one of their new artists. I had previously made a relationship mostly via email with him for the past year and we would discuss various things including U2 and whether he truly was their biggest fan. I also had sent him a nice promotional piece from one of the photos he had responded to with favorable review. One day in his office with Angie he put my name out there, Angie looked at my work, and decided to pick me.
Today is Angie's album release and this is the cover above. We shot outside shots in Leipers Fork just southeast of Franklin, TN. This particular location was a very old and abandoned house across from a middle school. There was nothing on this road besides the nice school across the street and this old house where we all congregated: me, my assistant Dale, Sony CD, Angie, Angie's husband Bobby, makeup person, wardrobe person and Angie's two managers. Quite a crew! The shot that made the cover was one where Angie and I were just walking together and I asked her to look over her shoulder and I snapped the pic. That was it. Very natural.
In my opinion, being skilled at my craft is essential but just as important is to make my subjects comfortable. I view photoshoots as just hanging out and we cut up and have fun and we get our shots. Angie was great at cutting up. Once I was looking at the back of my camera to check some of the shots and I was not responding verbally so Angie asked, "Well what do you think?" To which I responded, "I don't like your face." I meant in just those few pics regarding pose or some such thing. Quickly, Angie responded, "Well I don't like YOUR face!" Everyone had a great laugh!
Bobby was a great dude and chivalrous!
Creative Directors can be useful on photoshoots. Thanks, bro!
That's a wrap! Now time to go listen to Angie's music!
I photographed Alexa this weekend and I thought this would be make a great blog post on lighting. I know how much of a pain it can be to lug lights to a shoot outside. It's always easier to just shoot with natural light and get what you get and manipulate it in post. This first pic is natural light and it does look nice. But I wanted to not blow out the background and instead expose the background to a point where it could be seen and a part of the overall photo. Besides, spring is really going strong right now and the green grass, yellow flowers (my wife reminds me they are weeds - ok fine) and blue sky would really enhance the overall.
Here you can see the background is exposed so that it can be seen well but then that causes Alexa to be underexposed. Also going on here is that to my left there is a scrim someone is holding because if you look at the shadows the sun is over my left shoulder and would have been super hot on Alexa's face. The scrim softened that light on her but still with my camera set to expose for the background she is not well lit.
This is the final image (I still may tweak it more in Photoshop) with a softbox (Alien Bee 1600) camera right with on Alexa to expose her along with the background.
One other note. If you look at the back of Alexa's neck and back of her head you can see some sun shining on it. I had my assistant (Alexa's sister, Faith) hold the scrim (the scrim is a round disc) just on Alexa's face but move it enough to let some sun shine on her next and back of her head. Why? If I hadn't then her hair would have blended in with the dark treeline behind and there would have been no separation or very little. This was just a subtle change that most may not even notice.
I will leave you with one more of Alexa but this one is all natural light. Magic hour sun diffused with a scrim really does an amazing job as well. But this is more of a portrait so the background is not as important as just Alexa.
There you have it. Natural light is amazing but adding artificial light with a soft box can make a photo more dramatic.
As all of us are watching what we spend these days and I am no exception. Marketing is crucial to getting our work in front of those who hire us so we can't ignore it. For those of us who are budget concious but want something tangible to send to a potential client we can always do-it-yourself which is what I did recently.
I must admit that while I am creative in photography I'm not terribly "crafty" which is what seems necessary for creating DIY promos. It took a long time to figure out how to create this idea. I wanted to be able to print my own 5x7's on Moab paper and bind them somehow and mail to art buyers. An advantage to this is that I can create different books for different audiences. Recently, I mailed the promo you see below to a record label art buyer with just images that would be relevant to musicians and his business. I wouldn't want to send an image of a mom and daughter laughing together in the kitchen because he doesn't work with advertisers.
I cut black 12"x12" chipboard into 5"x7" sizes for the front and back of the book but wanted my logo to show instead of being all black. I tried to use a hand-held circle die cut from the craft store but it wouldn't cut through the thick chipboard. I wound up in the hardware section of Lowe's finding a fine tooth hole saw for my drill (see the picture). This is not ideal and I will change it up because the edges aren't as crisp as I want. After the front and back were cut and my prints were done I sandwhiched them together and drilled 2 holes all the way through in order to use screwposts (http://www.screwpost.com/) to bind it all together. I later added a paper strip using thick premium printer paper on which I designed my logo and name for a final touch. I just used double-sided tape to hold it together where the strip met the other end on the back.
I believe I will continue to improve on this idea but I like the flexibility that I can create it myself. One day this week I created 3 additional promos like this one (except I did use clear plastic sheet for the front) in about 3 hours from printing (12 prints each book) to completion. Have fun out there!