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.

faithhill

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:

respighi

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.

windhamhill

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.

nonesuch

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.

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Exceptional Portraits (from the workshop)

Exceptional Portraits (from the workshop)

One of the most exciting and ultimately satisfying things I am doing is the 8 Week Workshop courses. We mostly focus on portraits, but are beginning to expand out with an upcoming Still Life Workshop as well. And more ideas are in the works.

This last week, we studied the work of Sara Moon. Moon is a fashion photographer best known for her intimate, nearly painterly like fashion imagery. And while most of the students do not seek a career in fashion, there is much to be learned from studying her work and being inspired by it.

I want to share with you a few of my favorites, as well as the entire classes work.

Cover image: Thomas Poehler

PLEASE SEE THE REST OF THE POST AFTER THE JUMP
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Now Enrolling for Two Different 8 Week Photography Workshops

Now Enrolling for Two Different 8 Week Photography Workshops

If portraiture is your interest, we are starting the 8 Week Portrait Workshop 102 in January. There are still a few openings if you are interested. See the workshop page for more information on this unique class. Lots going on in that class, and if you love portraiture, you should check it out.

The second course is a brand new one we decided to call the 8 Week Still Life Class. Most likely because it is 8 weeks long and focuses on still life and table top work. This is somewhat new for us, so we are looking at other disciplines that could be brought into the 8 week structure.

These 8 week units have been very popular and we love teaching them. I hope you check them out if you are interested.

“Connected” – A Travel Photographers Visual Diary of the World and its People

“Connected” – A Travel Photographers Visual Diary of the World and its People

Matt Dutile is a young, emerging, and very talented people photographer who specializes in travel and lifestyle editorial. His newest project is a book of his more enigmatic imagery.

What started as a promotional piece, has grown into a larger, more robust publication of over 80 photographs. I had an opportunity to chat with him recently, and we discussed this new book project, his recent travels, and the many fascinating places he has visited in his quests. Shooting for magazines and clients worldwide, take a few minutes to listen to Matt discuss the world of travel photography, and his favorite subject – the people of the world.

Here is a link to the INDIEGOGO site where you can pick up a copy of this very unique and fascinating book. This is a collectors item, and only a few hundred people will ever have a copy.

See more of Matts work at his website: www.mattdutile.com

Here are the spreads we looked at in the video.

All images below by Matt Dutile, and are protected by copyright.

Madagascar1India2  Madagascar3 Mexico2 Morocco2 Peru1 Sicily2

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Two new classes are now enrolling for January:

8 Week Portrait Workshop 102

8 Week Still Life Workshop

Gettin’ the Adventure Spirit

Gettin’ the Adventure Spirit

Perhaps it is because it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, or maybe the wanderlust of the highway calling to me, but today’s update is a bunch of cool stuff about adventure photography that makes me want to get out the door, fire up Sarek and “head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure”.

I have said it many times; if I was starting this road of commercial photography again, it would be adventure photography I would be chasing. Perhaps it will be, and perhaps I shall at some point. (Do you get the feeling that there is something in the air saying “reset”… a big change comin’ and perhaps it is indeed a time for a reset.) Who knows… hell, certainly not me.

I am just a writer/photographer who is wanting to have some fun on these final laps. Get the fuel ready, boys, I want another race.

Michael Clark puts out a quarterly newsletter that is well designed and full of great information for a start up photographer or a seasoned pro. Check his downloadable newsletter out here, and see his work here. Damn.

Paolo Marchesi is a fine adventure shooter as well. This blog post about shooting surfing on Todos Santos, and island off the coast of Mexico is really a great read. Wonderful photos as well. You can see his work here.

Go vertical with Matt and Agnes Hage while they shoot for Outdoor Research. This post talks about their recent shoot on the rock faces of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. See their amazing work here.

Chris Burkard knows photography… and social media. With over a million Instagram followers, there is a sense that a lot of people like adventure photography. Listen to this interview with him on how he does what he does and check out his work here. Tumblr too…

From extreme adventure sports to sublime landscapes, Alex Buisse delivers every time. Check out this blog post on shooting for Red Bull. Then check out his work here.

See ya next time…

 

What We Learn from Studying Master Photographers

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM STUDYING THE MASTERS

MUCH MORE THAN LIGHTING AND COMPOSITION - THAT'S FOR SURE
IMAGE BY GLENN HARRIS AFTER STUDYING THE WORK OF ANDREW HETHERINGTON

I am just about full on my newest portrait class (starting November) and we have been discussing a lot of things in the current portrait class that has me thinking. Yeah, that can be sorta dangerous, but in this case I think I want to share a few things.

In today’s wacky, fast-paced, ‘just-show-me-how-it’s-done’ world there are those who want to skip the hard bits. Just jump on over the challenging and get right to the ‘good stuff’. And yeah, we have bemoaned this before.

But today, more than ever, it seems like what is missed is becoming the heart of what should be found. It isn’t difficult to learn about master photographers, and it doesn’t negate anyones talent to study and learn from them. On the contrary, the study of the masters, or even contemporary shooters who you enjoy, can open your eyes to your own work.

We don’t study in order to copy the masters, nor is there any desire on our part to become small clones of their style. At least there shouldn’t be. What we are looking for are the commonalities of making images, and the unique solutions others have found to make them.

Look – we can teach someone how to light fairly quickly, it isn’t hard. We can teach the ‘rules’ of composition, and how to color balance and all that stuff. It is pretty damned easy to teach and to learn.

But no one can teach someone how to see, how to make a photograph that transcends the snap and becomes something more. No one can teach vision, and style, and how to dig down deep to make something all their own.

We teachers can only lead the way, show them the direction and help them find it within themselves. Understanding what other artists do and achieve with the very same tools they use can open flood gates of creativity, and the always valuable introspection.

Simple, really. We study the art of others to help understand our own.

The students in the 8 Week Portrait Classes I have run this year have said things to me like;

“I never knew I could make photographs like this. Studying the work of Peter Limburgh opened me to a whole new way of approaching light.”

“Sarah Moon made me see photographs in a totally different way.”

“I have found a new love of portraiture after being immersed in the work of David Eustace, and I love it.”

It is so true… the photographers all saw major breakthroughs in their own work after studying these wide ranging master portraitists. This was probably the most exciting thing for me as a teacher.

Here are a few things we can learn from studying other photographers.

How to meet a challenge head on.
So many times shooting is just a set of challenges that seem to stack up against you at every turn. Understanding that other photographers have had those same challenges, and then learning how they dealt with them can give us fresh perspective on ways we can deal as well.

How to approach a subject in different ways.
The portraiture work of David Bailey is worlds apart from the portraits of Dan Winters, and yet there is something to be gleaned from both. Whether you like one or the other more, studying the way they use light to shape and present the subject is fascinating. You may choose another path altogether, but you do it knowing what you are doing, and how to do it your way.

You get to step into the mind of another shooter… and that helps you grow.
When you study, or immerse yourself in the work of another photographer, you can start to see how that photographers sees, how they approach a visual challenge, how they choose to use – or not use – context. This can help you make decisions when you face the same challenges. Decisions that are uniquely yours, but derived from the visual legacy of a master.

The more you THINK about making a photograph, the better your photography can become.
In the workshops we strive to immerse ourselves in the work of master photographers. Some of the students decide they want to create a lighting scheme that is as complex as a master they are studying, while others try to find the essence of the work and then integrate some of it into their own style pallets. Both are excellent tools. And both help the photographer hone their craft faster because as you raise the camera up to your eye, you start to question the process based on the photographer you are studying. And that exercise is so very valuable. It creates patterns that will stay with you for the rest of your photographic career. THINKING about the photograph.

Freedom from sameness.
Yes… freedom. We get in a rut sometimes. We begin to think that Facebook and Flickr and G+ are arbiters of our own style and aesthetic and nothing could be further from the truth. Studying the work of photographers who are creating masterful images can lead to the discovery that you can make any kind of images you want to make… as long as they are authentically yours. And the freedom to make YOUR image can many times come after studying someone else who claimed their freedom, and then took it to levels unimagined for most of us.

I love teaching these classes, and we will resume in January. Currently we have three portrait classes; two are general approaches to stylized portraits, and one is focused on the environmental portraitist. I may add a studio section, but probably not. I am thinking that I could switch out a few photographers in the other classes and add a few new ones to the mix.

For more information on the last class of the year, go to this page.

Here are a few of the portraits to come out of the current 8 Week Portrat Class: