Bryan Holt is a cellist who contacted me a few weeks ago to get some artist promo shots. The photoshoot was simple enough, it just involved us walking around downtown Montreal and on McGill campus, and me asking him to play at different locations. Since I went to McGill, I knew some good locations around the area. I am constantly looking for shoot locations when I'm outside, I even have a little list on my phone of all potential shoot locations.
The shot below was taken in a little recessed corner on a quite busy street that I often passed by. You might miss it, or even think it's ugly as you quickly walk past it, but isolated from the surrounding clutter, it makes a nice clean background. For artist promo shots I always take a mix of wide environmental portraits and close-ups, detail shots, etc. In the wide shots I tend to leave a lot of negative space, since those images are sometimes used with text as posters.
We walked around, and upon encountering a nice location, we'd start setting up. He had his chair and cello. I had my lightstand and softbox. The pictures were taken in the middle of the day, so I added an additional light to darken the whole scene. A bit counter intuitive right? Essentially I adjust my camera settings to produce a dark image, then I add in my own light. I have more control over the direction of it, so it can create an isolated dramatic portrait like the one above.
I love the colours, detail in the cello scroll and the out of focus background in this next one. The background was achieved by using a large aperture and more importantly, choosing an angle where the background distance to Bryan was much larger than the distance between me and him.
We then randomly figured out somehow that he is my neighbor. I'm secretly hoping to get some free shows sometimes.
If you're a musician, artist or band interested in having some promotional material made, or needing a few headshots / portraits (with or without instrument), write to me! I'd love to hear from you and start brainstorming with you.