Zitong Zheng • Headshot

Zitong Zheng Zitong comes to me from the Boston area.  He was recently part of an international piano competition, and he needed a ‪headshot‬ created that was going to be used for their program.

This was Zitong's first time in front of a camera in a professional manner. He's a natural! So relaxed!  He really liked some of the examples I had on my headshot page with a grey, neutral background.  He specifically requested it.

The tones in this shot are gorgeous.  I love his slightly reflective tie.  And the texture in his shirt is fantastic.

And those cheekbones.  Seriously.  SRSLY.


Hot Mess

Hot Mess

Let me introduce you to the gang that makes up Hot Mess, and give you a little behind-the-scenes of our session earlier this year.

Hot Mess came to me via musician Tim Paul Weiner, who came to me by way of Elise McDonald.  Elise used to run Studio 99, a local music venue that I miss terribly and I cherish all the friendships I made when it was open - both professionally as well as personally.  Tim and I met and talked about creating some images to be used for a new website and other promotional needs for his music.  During our conversation he told me he was part of a larger band that was going to be re-doing their website and branding and he'd share my work with them.

Jason Silverman is the man in charge of Hot Mess. He looks a little like actor Tom Hardy.  I'm a big Mad Max fan, so any chance to photograph someone that looks like Tom Hardy is kinda cool to me.  Hot Mess is a cover band out of Boston and were recently voted 2016 Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award.

Jason was looking for something they could use as a splash page image on their soon-to-be-new website.  Something simple with everyone in a row.  I love keeping things simple, and we set up a time here at the studio.

I had never photographed a group of seven before (though recently worked with Fever Pitch made up of 7 smaller people).  Up until now, I think the most I've ever photographed in my studio was the Mwano brothers or the Brooks Young Band.  I knew that fitting 7 people on a nine-foot roll of seamless paper wasn't going to cut it, so the day before the session I went into the empty studio space next door to me and I took a roll of seamless and I ran it along one of the walls in there.  It let me go past the 9 foot restriction I would have faced here in the studio so that I could get everyone lined up along side each other.  I forget what the exact dimensions were, but it was pretty long.  So I gaff tapped the paper to the wall and we were good to go.

I wanted to keep the lighting simple, so I set up three lights.  I lined them up so that I created a single bank of light all flashing straight ahead towards where the subjects would be located.

Lights arranged in a line to create a bank of light, aimed at the wall with the backdrop paper.

Lights arranged in a line to create a bank of light, aimed at the wall with the backdrop paper.

Once they arrived it was just a matter of lining them up and visually making sure I had them in a good arrangement and getting to work.  When dealing with a group of 7 people, your rate-of-return when it comes to usable shots is going to be low, because you have seven sets of eyes that you need to make sure aren't blinking, seven faces that need to be looking at me and looking good, seven facets of seven people that need to be in check, etc.  After each shot I tried to take a peek at the back of the camera, but sometimes you get into rhythm of the shoot and don't check as often.  I had them pushed right against the wall at the start.

Hot Mess
A shot taken during the start of the session with some text added as a mockup for them

After getting some shots with them against the wall, I pulled them away from the wall a few feet and then took my two side lights and moved them around a bit:

Hot Mess
the view from my perspective
Hot Mess
Hot Mess

Once we got some good shots, I then started to play around a little bit, and bought out my prism and started moving it around the front of my lens:

Hot Mess

I was really liking the reflections that the prism was picking up and took a few different shots moving the prism around and picking up reflections and little light blooms (like the one in the above image in the left corner).

eyeballing the shots to make sure everybody is in focus and not blinking

eyeballing the shots to make sure everybody is in focus and not blinking

By now we were starting to fall into the groove.  I knew that we had the shot they wanted for their website, but I was just feeling like I was getting to what I wanted from the session, so I started to pull them a little further away from the background and stagger their arrangements.  Jason was the head of the band, so I knew I wanted him in focus, and if the focus fell off a bit, I was okay with that.  Not everyone had to be crystal-sharp for me.  I wanted to add a little dimension to the group shot.

Hot Mess

And that was the shot I was looking for.  Visually I was interested in the composition and layout of all the members.  Jason was tight and in focus, and everyone else starts to go out of focus.  Visually I liked how my eye started on Andria in the left of the image and you can feel your eyeballs move up and down as you move across the image to the right.  This was the shot for me and after I got this, I knew we were good.

I also played around with the prism a little more:

Hot Mess
“look that way”

“look that way”

Once the group images were good to go, I wanted to get individual shots of each band member that would go on the website's "About Us" page.

Hot Mess
Hot Mess
Tom Hardy. Totally.

It was a really great session and I think they were very happy with the images we created.

Their website went live and it looks pretty darn good:

Thanks gang, you guys were great to photograph, and I'm looking forward to working with y'all again in the future.

To see a few more shots, take a spin over to my Flickr feed.

Fever Pitch • North Main Music

Fever Pitch (North Main Music)

Fever Pitch is an acapella group formed by students of North Main Music.  They needed some promotional photography that would be used on their website and for press releases for print, and Mike, the owner of North Main Music brought the gang by the studio one evening so we could create some photography for them.  Mike is a great guy, and I'm happy that he's hired me in the past for some of their photography needs.

I wanted to do a simple session on white, so that they could crop or extended the images as needed for posters and other various sized print materials.

Mike grabbed a shot of me while I played human-jenga and positioned the group:

If you get a chance to check them out locally, catch them singing.  It's good stuff.  And make sure you swing by North Main Music, especially if you are thinking about taking classes, or giving the gift of a class to someone important to you.

Hannah Sanders: fROOTS album review

fRoots Magazine UK • Hannah Sanders

Hannah Sanders continues garnering acclaim for her debut solo album "Charms Against Sorrow" which I photographed and designed late last year. Leading UK folk magazine fROOTS just featured a review of Hannah's album, and generously giving the photography a paragraph of mention:

"The visuals, I comment are very striking."

"I'm very moved by how photography describes time - it shares a place with traditional song in many ways. I had the pleasure of working with great photographic artist Sid Ceaser. Sid and I decided on something really direct and honest for the album, and I think he captured it."

"Direct, empowered, Hannah stares out from the cover of Charms with an almost tangible mixture of determination and steel, it's the sort of cover you can't ignore."

Thanks to Simon Jones of fROOTS for mentioning the artwork. I love that this album is being listened to and seen all over the world.