I often get people asking me if I will photograph them/their band for their upcoming CD. It rarely turns into a job for the following reasons in order:
1) They don’t have any money but want to give me a few copies of their crappy CD plus "think about all the publicity you will get from all our fans seeing your work". Talk usually ends here.
2) They want photos but have no idea what they want style wise and can’t agree on any visual approach even as a starting point. They want me to art direct it: come up with a concept, find a location, locate props, bring in some cool wardrobe and do a bunch of post-production to make it "edgy". But they don’t have any money.
3) They have a "great concept" for the shots but either the location is very remote and unreasonable or it will take a lot of props/location rental/extra actors to complete the scent or a whole slew of other things that turns a simple shoot into a massive production. (Ok so like the three of us are riding an elephant at sunset on the beach but there are all these green bikini babes who are surfing and then there is this one dude in a space suit way over on the horizon ….) Oh and they don’t have any money.
Well given that I don’t do many of those jobs. I just don’t like dealing with non-professionals. Yeah, call me "silly". But I do a few from time to time when I’m impressed by the artist. One such guy, Scott Dale, passed my test and I agreed to do the job. He’s maybe 45 and does slightly modern country/western singer-songwriter stuff. He’s a Realtor during the day, a straight up dude, has money and his CD is actually pretty good. He knows what he wants, knows his market and we quickly come up with some ideas and locations.
The first thing that went past my mind is "I don’t want him in a cowboy hat, I don’t want him looking at me and I don’t want the look to be modern. It has to be a bit nostalgic". I’ve been trying for years to get away from the clean look that digital has and to find ways to make it more organic. I’m not saying "film-like" but just not so squeaky clean and clinical. I normally process my RAW files in a way that makes them rather "film-like" but for this guy I knew that it had to go a few steps beyond that. The look had to support the openness and quiet nature we were going for. Well we did the shoot and it went well. All the time I was thinking of how I wanted this look to be and tried to, as Ansel Adams would say, envision the print before I make my exposure. I think that it worked. The series with Scott has a totally different look and feel that certainly the majority of my photos and maybe it’s a "breakthrough" or some such rot. Regardless it was great to work with him and I’m very happy with the results.