I find myself on location shooting some promotional images with Classical Pianist* Lucy Garrard. Hair and make-up artist Sian Stone is also on hand in the Dorchester County Museum. The museum is hosting a musical performance so we have access to the grand piano which is set up on a temporary stage. The piano is a beautifully made highly polished hardwood object, one of only a handful of grand pianos in the area – it’s great to be able to use it in the shoot.
I concentrate on the space, shapes, textures and angles which make the piano look its best. On jobs like these there are always “rules of shooting” to adhere to. In a brief chat with Lucy she explains the requirements of the composition and content that will ensure the shots are used. I’ve shot events where the right setup or details dictate if the images will ever be used by the art director / publisher or client. For example:
- Horse trials – it’s always the head angle.
- Archery – no string in the bow
- Climbing – helmets, and health and safety
- Shot guns – nothing in the barrel (this is one of my favourites!!!)
- Classical Pianists – no sheet music, as all the pieces are memorized.
It’s not life or death with this type of shoot, but I want to make sure the right items are in the shot and the images are of the highest possible quality. So I spend some time looking at the piano and talking to Lucy about the shoot, angles, concepts, looks. The styling for this is paramount to me. I’m always looking for shapes, colours, textures, lighting and areas of interest. The museum has it in spades. We used a white wall-hanging for part of the shoot, then an oil painting on the wall to frame the shot (light with a wireless snoot strobe to pull out the sun burst detail in the painting)
I shoot the final set of images, Lucy is facing the camera with the piano in the background (also facing the camera – as I soon discover a piano has a face too) so I light the keys and the inside of the piano – showing the strings, hammers and wires with a warm light raking across them. It’s just a hint of the instrument, but all that’s needed to place Lucy in context.
Lucy opted for a range of changed of outfits, lots of different looks that translate her classical and contemporary approach to music. We also benefit from some wonderfully inspiring hair and makeup styles by Sian Stone. Sian is always ready to bring out the glitter on a shoot, adding a certain razzmatazz! It’s all about team work. I must also mention Steph (Lucy’s mum) without her support none of this would have been possible – and thanks also for the Kitkat and tea – some much needed sugar for the photographer.
Lucy is a very talented musician and it’s a pleasure to help her on her way in the industry. With her professionalism, drive and determination and obvious love of music I can’t wait to see where she goes. I know it will be far.
Shooting mainly with the 2 lights x Elinchrom Quadra ranger in a 70cm softbox (head A), and silver reflector (head B). Adding some hair light details with a 580exii strobe fired with the Elinchrom triggers. Then added a snooted strobe on the oil painting to fill the sunburst details. Most of the portraits shot using a 17-40mm wide angle EF lens, then swapping to the 70-200mm for the compressed portraits shot from 15mtrs distance to clasped the depth of the space between Lucy and the oil painting. Hope this helps.