As a singer/songwriter and recording artist in a past life, I’m intimately familiar with the many challenges of music promotion, so I know first-hand what it’s like to be out there pounding the pavement trying to get noticed. Although at this point I’ve traded most of my instruments and recording gear for cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment, I still live and breathe music—just through a different medium. I’ve found that my experience as a working musician gives me a unique advantage over most other photographers in this niche, as I’m able to instantaneously connect with my clients on a number of levels and truly understand their unique needs as it pertains to promotional imagery.
I’m a commercial music photographer based in Tampa, FL specializing exclusively in band promos, cd & album covers, press kits, and custom-designed promotional imagery. The way I see it, at the end of the day my number one priority is to help my clients stand out. Period. Unlike in years past, these days record labels rarely ever spend money on “artist development”, so it’s up to each individual musician to build an effective marketing plan (and manage their own finances). Besides recording an EP/album, the most important aspect of a musician’s marketing plan, in my humble opinion, is hiring a photographer who can consistently deliver eye-catching promotional images—the kind of stuff that will quite literally jump off the page in a Facebook News Feed and compel people to click a link to find out more about an artist. In other words, if a promo image isn’t a flat-out eyeball magnet, it’s a failure.
So in order to create images with maximum visual impact, I rely on two primary elements: (1) meticulously-planned lighting setups, and (2) LOTS of Photoshop. However, I tend to treat these elements more like a single creative tool, because I always specifically light my subjects with an eye toward the way I’ll eventually post-process them in Photoshop. For example, I do lots of compositing work, and in order to pull off a believable composite, it’s absolutely imperative to make sure that the lighting looks realistic and natural. The human eye is surprisingly adept at picking out little things that don’t look quite right, so composites typically require lots of retouching time to get everything looking relatively seamless. Just as a side note, most of the time it’s also quite helpful to have a background picked out before executing a shot, but even if that’s not possible, using a traditional 3-light setup will typically still yield plenty of options.
I’m inspired by guys like Joel Grimes, Dave Hill, and Jeremy Cowart, not just because their photography/lighting work is so stellar, but they also really know how to elevate an image to a whole new level in Photoshop. It’s simply not enough in today’s world of ubiquitous $500 DLSRs to be able to consistently produce a well-exposed, well-composed image. In order to truly stand out in the crowd, you also need to be able to leverage your lighting and Photoshop chops to make an image really “sing” (pun intended). 🙂