I really can't tell you how much I love working with musicians.
Last year I got to work with local singer/songwriter Matt Jackson on images for his promotional needs as well as work for his album design/cover. It's been really great watching him grow as an artist and songwriter. He's really busting his ass to constantly improve his craft, booking and playing gigs, and just trying to make his dream come true. Earlier this year I got together with him while he was recording new songs in Lowell MA at a place called "The Space" and I took some images of him that he could use for promo purposes.
The image above is just about one of my favorite images I've ever taken. It was shot with existing light that was in the recording booth. I love the feel and the colors of the image.
The Space is a great little recording space in Lowell, near the Western Avenue Studios. Matt has been working on his forthcoming EP and full-length album there and from watching him he's spending the time making sure every piece of it is perfect; it's great watching someone be so meticulous in how something sounds. He isn't half-assing it. He's going for real quality work.
For the first session we did this year, I wanted to shoot nothing but natural light. I wanted to shoot with high ISO so I could get my images all grainy, sort of like if I had been shooting with high ISO film. Some people don't like grain in pictures, but when I shot a lot of film back in the day, I loved high ISO films, especially ISO 3200 film - grain that looked like raw sea salt; big chunks of grain all over the image. I love the documentary feel heavy grain film has.
So I went grainy and natural light. I got some shots of him recording and then in between takes I did some more posed shots so that I could leave knowing I had something that was a little more staged.
After getting some nice black and white shots showing the environment, I started looking around for somewhere I could place him for a more staged shot. I love staged. I love dramatic images. I love putting subjects in places and lighting them and controlling the drama. When I saw that the recording booth had two lights in them that had different temperatures (and thus giving off different colors of light) I knew exactly what I wanted.
I placed Matt in the booth, and had him pose with the microphone. A few quick shots to see what the exposure looked like and then it was just a matter of composition.
That image again:
It was magic as soon as I saw the image on the back of the camera. I took maybe three shots, but I knew I had "the shot". I then took a few black and whites of the setup. The two lights behind him had different temperatures, so they created different "colors" of light. They made wonderful back lights that create a beautiful rim around him. The light bounced around and off the walls, and provided fill for his face. This was one of those times where everything just fell into place at the right moment. That "purple" glob of light in the bottom right was a light refracting off the lens of my camera. Normally I look to prevent that sort of thing from happening, but I fell in love with it. It looked perfect. It helped make the image.
They looked good, but not as good as the color image.
Matt ended up using the shot for some of his Social Media outlets, as well as using it for a single he released on iTunes.
I've got another shoot with Matt that I'll post about at a later date; the second shoot at The Space in Lowell a few months after this shoot. Stay tuned!
To see a few more examples from this session with Matt, click here