Back in 2009, I had been talking with Joe McNally about kind of being in a rut over my own photography, and Joe encouraged me to come up with a personal photo project—something that would span a series of photos, and cause me to really think about a body of work instead of just “one-offs” like I normally shoot. I thought it was a great idea—-I just didn’t have a great idea on what to do.
Finally, Something Hit Me
After thinking about it for quite a while (and being quite frustrated by how hard a time I was having coming up with something creative and fun), until one day I came up with the idea to combine two things I love—music and photography, into a portrait series based on photographers who are also accomplished musicians. I would call the series “Sessions,“as I felt that name fit both music (like a recording session), and photography (like a photo session).
My idea was to shoot each photographer with their musical instrument (or a part thereof), but since they were photographers, I would make the backdrop and lighting part of the scene (so you’d clearly see the softbox, the back light, light stands, etc.), to bring the two arts together in one frame.
I decided that I would convert all the images into Duotones, and create a poster layout with the name of the series, then under it I would have the subject’s name, their favorite instrument, and their camera (for example, Matt Kloskowski. Plays: an Ibanez Roadrunner. Shoots: a Nikon D700). Then I would make a 24″x30” print (on Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper) and have each of them sign the print, large, above the series name, which would bring them further into the layout like a celebrity signing a promo photo.
The Series Gets Tweaked Right Out of the Gate
I took the first couple of shots, (taken in our studio, with the backdrop set up in front of a white syc wall), and I sent a couple to Joe to see what he thought, and while he liked the concept, he thought I needed to have a better background than just the syc wall. He said to either move the entire set closer to the subject (like backstage at a concert, or on stage before a gig, etc.), or to someplace completely opposite the two subjects, like putting up the set in a desert, or near a waterfall.
I agreed, and I knew that I’d have access to a backstage area at Photoshop World for our opening keynote concert, so after the few first shots, I took the set backstage and did the next set, and of course, Joe was right.
Anyway, I thought I share some of the images from the series here with you today. You’ll recognize these photographers, but you might be surprised to find out that they’re musicians, which I think is one of the coolest things about the project.
Plays: Martin DC-16RGTE Acoustic Guitar | Shoots: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Plays: Spaun Custom Drums | Shoots: Nikon D3s
Plays: Ludwig Drums | Shoots: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Plays: Martin Acoustic Guitars | Shoots: Nikon D700
Plays: Pearl Drums | Shoots: Canon 1DS Mark III
Plays: Carvin DC127T Electric Guitar | Shoots: Nikon D3s
My humble thanks to Joe McNally for inspiring me to try something new and shoot my first series, and for encouraging me to get serious about my sports photography in 2010 as well by just getting out there and shooting and learning. Both projects have taught me an awful lot, as I’m sure Joe knew they would.
Also a special thanks to my photo assistant Brad Moore, who was a tremendous help throughout the entire project, and a big thanks to these photographers who graciously posed for my project, especially since I knew full well that they would have been much more comfortable on the other side of the lens. :)