Guest Blog: Music Photographer Meg McCauley
Behind the Shoot with Chandler Moore
When I started getting into photographing concerts and artists, it wasn’t long after that when everything shut down due to the pandemic. I ended up going to Arkansas and staying with family for a while. I had no idea what life was going look like after coming back to Nashville. Everyone of course was wondering about the unknowns.
I just did what I could with in each day. One morning, I received a DM on Instagram and it was Chandler’s manager. She told me she and Chandler were looking to do an album photoshoot in Nashville and wanted to know if I would be available. Just to give you some background: Chandler is part of the Maverick City Music collective based in Atlanta. He’s done many collaborations with talented singer-songwriters within the worship realm. This year he performed on Justin Bieber’s Easter EP ‘Freedom.’
I didn’t know who Chandler was; I had never heard his name. I just quickly said ‘yes!’ Sydne, his manager, shared specific examples of what they had in mind. As I was looking through them, I thought, “Okay, we could totally do this in my house.” After they agreed to this idea, I thought to myself “Why on earth did I suggest that we shoot in my home? Okay, I can do this.” I turned my house into a studio space and planned where we could start from room to room just using certain spots as references points based from their ideas. I didn’t have any special equipment setup; I just depended on the natural lighting.
On the day of our shoot, they arrived at my place and they of course were cordial and just really down to earth. We talked for a bit and then we went straight to work. In one of their photo examples, the model was sitting where sunlight came through these window blinds and the shadows from the blinds were cast across the model’s face. I wanted to emulate this setting. So, we began in one bedroom where I knew the lighting was going to be great for the first few shots. I photographed several angles and poses and in between shots I showed Chandler what I was seeing and he was happy with what he saw.
We hopped from one spot to the other throughout my house, playing around with the light and shadows. We were going for really moody effects. I pulled from their vision but also included some fun impromptu stuff here and there. Prior to meeting, Sydne encouraged me to have creative freedom in directing Chandler with his poses. So, I kept this in mind as I was feeling out the energy and what felt right. It was a good momentum. Honestly, it was probably from the 2 1/2 cups of coffee I had that morning. But, ya know… I felt a steady flow and I went along with it. I found myself just listening to it.
There were a few times where I asked Sydne to assist me and she was awesome and jumped right in. I think I remember her telling me she had played around with photography herself so there was a fun dynamic going on. At one point, I had Chandler stand in front of this wall, and, as I was adjusting my camera settings, he started singing; just being himself and just chilling. It was a great time! I felt comfortable and I didn’t feel awkward or shy posing him.
When we made it into the last room, which was my bedroom, I had him sit in a chair and then on my bed and I grabbed some final shots. As we were wrapping things up, I had one last idea come over me. I asked him to relax and place his hands over his face. This had nothing to do with their original vision. I just went for it. It was one click and then we were done. I didn’t know what photo Chandler was going to use for his cover. I just remember sending their edits to them and then I moved on.
A few months later, on the album release day, I saw that he ended up using the last photo I took of him hiding his face in his hands. It was that one photo I took at the very end of our shoot. My heart literally expanded so big when I saw this. This shoot will always live with me, because we were total strangers. We were in a pandemic. And we created something in my house.
This experience also reinforced something inside of me as a creative, and that is to always listen to that quiet nudge in your gut. Yes, obviously keep in mind what the client wants but when the opportunity presents itself, grab a hold of that instantaneous “aha moment.”
Sharing this reminds me and I genuinely hope it does the same for you, to allow yourself to push through your own doubt and make some room for your own canvas. Because someone sees the art in you.