Shooting a CD Cover: Front and Back (Project 52)

Shooting a CD Cover: Front and Back (Project 52)

This past week we have been reviewing the CD cover assignment for the Project 52 2015 group. The assignment was for a cover and back image for a String Quartet performing Samuel Barber’s String Quartet Op 11.

The assignment specifically noted that the string quartet members may not be available for the shoot, so a creative solution must be found. (I don’t give assignments that are impossible… and finding a string quartet to photograph may not be totally impossible, but damn close for many of us.)

When shooting a CD cover there are three main ways of approaching the image.

For pop music it is usually going to be a photograph of the artist. Rare are the covers that do not have the artist shown. The cult of personality, and celebrity demands that we keep the faces of the performers in the fore. In many cases, the celebrity is more important than the music anyway. See the covers below for Faith Hill.


Another way is to show something that is reminiscent of the music, or an image that may be part of the title. Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome” cover could certainly have the pines of Rome featured:


And the third way is use art that is quite striking, but may not relate to the music but in the most obtuse of ways. This is usually done when there is no necessary correlation between the recorded music and a celebrity, or an album that is more about the music or genre of music than the actual performers.


Some labels like Windham Hill above was a full adopter of that approach to album design, and helped create the style as we know it today. Another company that also used art, although in many cases commissioned art, for their classical work was Nonesuch. Both of these legacies live in today’s music cover designs.


The CD cover is becoming less of a major label concern as streaming has taken its toll, but cover art will be around for a while longer and is very important for Indie bands and artists.

Here are a few of my favorites from the Assignment. Remember the cover is on the right side, back panel on left.

Continue on after the jump to see the class images.


Some Amazing Portraits from The Current Class

Some Amazing Portraits from The Current Class

The goal of the portrait classes I teach is to look at a prominent portrait photographers work, and find those aspects of the work that resonate with our work. The goal is NOT to copy those we study, but to be inspired by their work.

This week we looked at the work of Lee Crum and Matt Barnes, two amazing portrait photographers. The members were inspired by their work and created some wonderful images. I am sharing them with you here.

For information on the next 8 Week Portrait Class, see this page.

Shooting to Layout: A Point of Purchase Display

Shooting to Layout: A Point of Purchase Display

One of the most difficult parts of commercial photography is shooting to layout. A designer or art director has an approved layout, and your shot must work within the elements on the page. We see it a lot in catalog, advertising, collateral, and web oriented assignments.

For this particular assignment, the image had to be crafted to fit in the pre-approved design of the point of purchase (POP) display. Designed to go in hundreds of mom ‘n pop hardware stores and nurseries the goal of the shot is grab some attention and get the viewer to take a brochure. There would be three brochure racks hanging below the lower band and hide most of the image.


Shooting to Layout: P52 Members are “Cooking” with heat!


The assignment was given with a “napkin” layout. A very simple sketch similar to what we get from AD’s from time to time. Then the photographers got to download the layout – and shoot to that layout exactly. It is one of my favorite assignments because we get to see the same layout with different treatments.

Here you go:
(NOTE: If images appear cropped, please click to the post page for full image views.

A Few More Portraits

The 8 Week Portrait Classes are now finished. I added a bonus photographer on for each of them (9 photographers per class) and this is the gallery of inspired images from the bonus photographer for the 8 Week II class, Mark Tucker. We look at the work of the photographer, study the lighting and posing and direction that is evident in the work and then create images that are inspired by that photographer. We do not copy or try to recreate, we use the work as inspiration, and Mark is an inspiration to us all.

The student gallery from this last assignment: