Photographing Musicians – Part 2 (behind the scenes)

Yesterday I shared some of the images from my shoot with Leah and Celeste. Today is a look behind the scenes of the shoot.

Here’s photo number one. Yes, I am wearing gloves…it was freezing!

Below is the shot I was taking at the time. As you can see above, I’m crouching down for a lower perspective, so that the cobbles lead into the image. The light is blocked on either side by the buildings, making it directional enough for a good black and white conversion. Leah was going for a Vogue-ish look, with a vintage vibe. The use of black and white and shooting in a street with old buildings helped create that.

I used a wide aperture (f/2.5) so that only Leah was in focus and the buildings behind her added to the vibe, but weren’t distracting.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.5, 1/250th)

Number two is a good example of using whatever space is available. I’ve posed Celeste just inside the covered walkway between a giftshop and some public toilets. (Who says being a photographer isn’t glamorous?) I picked that location because a covered walkway gives brilliant control of light.

Here’s the end result. Celeste was looking for edgy photos that contrasted sharply with normal perception of a soprano. The strong light and brickwork are a big contrast to the style of images I was shooting for Leah.

Using the walkway with the strong light behind me has given Celeste lovely ‘catchlights’ in her eyes.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.2, 1/125th)

Here’s another image from the same location. This time I’ve moved Celeste away from the wall and allowed the end of the tunnel to add a bit of backlighting to the scene. I’ve also moved slightly closer to make the depth of field shallower.

The result of a shallower depth of field (Celeste’s hair is out of focus on one side) and the backlighting is to make the image much softer. The strong light and leather jacket are still harsh, but the result is (I hope) an image that presents a more delicate side.

Note that Celeste’s eyes are placed at the top third of the frame and the eye closest to the camera is on the right hand third of the frame.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.5, 1/160th)

Number three is, I think, the most interesting. We’re back in the same street as number one and I’m crouching down again, but this time I’m breaking all the rules.

Celeste is front-on and above me, traditionally an angle you would NEVER photograph a woman at – apart from making them look square, by shooting from below you also make them look larger. Not recommended! However, there is a reason for my flagrant rule-breaking.

By shooting from below, I’m putting Celeste in a dominant position, but by turning her head away from the camera I help to define her features, which goes some way to negating the fact I’m shooting her straight on. Shooting straight on makes her shoulders square, which adds a strength and aggression to the pose.

The most interesting part? The image below is Celeste’s favourite from the shoot. Some people will tell you there are no rules to photography, and in some ways they are correct, however, you earn the right to break the rules if you know them.

Finally, I shot with my widest aperture of f/2.0 to remove some of the distractions from the background and then chose a panoramic crop of the image, because I felt it best matched the look we were aiming for.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.0, 1/160th)

Do get in contact if you’re interested in a portrait shoot.

If you’ve got any photography questions, do ask away via my Formspring page and if you’re interested in my 1-1 photography training workshops, you can find more info here.


About David Charlwood

I am a professional photographer, specialising in weddings, working across the UK, based in the South East. View all posts by David Charlwood

3 responses to “Photographing Musicians – Part 2 (behind the scenes)

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