What do you get when you combine a ridiculously creative duo like Sleepy Kitty with a killer location and a lighting-happy music photographer?
Well, you get promo photos like this for your band:
Readers of this here blog will recognize Paige and Evan from the live shots I’ve done for them. I’ve informed you all about the greatness of their music, but what you may not know is that they are also talented graphic artists that run a printing business out of their loft. They make concert posters, wedding invites, and more and they do it all very well. Obviously, they are pretty creative people.
They are also major fans of the great Alfred Hitchcock. At one of their shows, Paige and I were chatting about doing some promo shots together and when she shared this little tidbit of info with me, my brain almost exploded. So many bells and whistles and lights were going off in my head that I thought some wheezing geriatric had just hit the jackpot on a slot machine inside my skull. I’m pretty sure I started drooling on the bar in front of Paige before muttering a heavily slurred “yes, let’s do this.”
So we got together at their loft (more on this amazing space in a minute) to chat and look at some inspiration. We looked at old Hitchcock movie posters, production stills and at a great book called Truffaut / Hitchcock in which the two filmmakers “talk about stuff filmmakers talk about”, as Evan so aptly put it. While we weren’t looking to replicate any specific scene, we did come up with four ideas to shoot based on certain themes in Hitchcock’s work. We decided to focus on the tension and lighting in his films and work from there.
What an amazing space. When I first saw it, I flipped out. It’s a massive converted loft that Paige and Evan cleaned up when they moved from Chicago. They scrubbed and swept and decorated a true masterpiece of combined workspace/living area that was simply overflowing with shooting possibilities. I could literally photograph there for a year and not run out of ideas.
The four scenes we decided on revolved around certain areas of the loft. We started by shooting in their “living room” area, continued to the kitchen, the stairwell to the third floor/roof, and the roof itself. And since we ended up way ahead of schedule we improvised some shots in the freight elevator.
As they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. And this loft made one hell of a location.
We bought/rented nothing for this shoot except the vintage flashlights which cost me $5 on eBay. Otherwise it was all crowd-sourced, to use the buzzword of the minute. My brother is a detective, which comes in handy when I need some handcuffs and a fake gun for a photo shoot. I collect old audio gear like the reel-to-reel recorder you see here. Paige and Evan either owned or borrowed the clothing you see. The phone and handbag were borrowed from a local vintage shop. It’s not just about who you know, it’s about if they’re awesome enough to let you borrow stuff from them.
The beautiful thing about the loft is that it provided these “sets” for us to use with almost no dressing at all. We taped a poster to the wall above the sofa, and moved the kitchen table a little bit. That’s it. So easy, and a pleasant change for sure.
I’m pretty proud of these shots, and so are Sleepy Kitty. I think we combined the Hitchcock vibe with a retro-modern look that fits the personalities of everyone involved. So what do you think? Leave a comment and let us know.
A major thank you to my assistant for the day, Jeff Hill. Jeff is a talented shooter in his own right and was a tremendous help.
I shot everything on my Nikon D700 with the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, except for one roof shot where I used the 70-200mm f/2.8. For the sofa and phone shots, all of the lights were triggered via Nikon’s CLS system but I used Pocket Wizards for everything else.
Lighting-wise, everything was done with Nikon Speedlights except the roof shots which also involved an Alien Bees ABR800 ring flash. I didn’t shoot through the ABR800–I simply used it as a key light to overpower the mid-day sun as you can see in some of the behind-the scenes pics that Jeff snapped during the roof scene.
You can also see that I need to wear a hat in public.