Zenia has been a “facebook friend” of mine for quite some time, but until recently we had never met in person. A few weeks ago Zenia told me about a musical album that she was working on. It was going to be titled “Alive and Shine” and would be her debut album. She asked me if I would be interested in doing the photography for the album cover and art. Was I interested? Of course!
I want to take a moment to mention that Zenia is one of the most positive and inspiring people that I know. Not only that, but she also writes, produces, plays and sings all of her own music at home. Having done the same thing myself in another life (waaaay back in the 80s & 90s), I have a soft spot for artists like Zenia. I was incredibly excited to work on this project with her.
Okay, so here we go! Due to the very tight schedule of only a couple weeks, we decided upon a concept which would be fairly simple to shoot and design in a short period of time.
Zenia mentioned that the album art needed to convey warmth, light, energy, and life. Since it was winter here in the northwest, I immediately knew that my compositing skills were going to come in handy on this job. Borrowing a technique which I learned from Glyn Dewis I created the following, very crude concept sketch using Photoshop Touch for iPad. The idea was to have Zenia with her hair blowing and the sunlight shining from behind her. Here’s my finger sketch from the iPad. Isn’t it beautiful! (sarcasm)
After I assured Zenia that the final product would be a tad better quality than the concept sketch, she was on board with the idea.
On the day of the shoot I enlisted the help of yet another “facebook friend” named Brandon (whom I had never met before either) to act as our wind machine. I also brought in Shiree Collier to do the hair and makeup. Shiree and I have been working together recently and I have the utmost confidence in her work. Plus she’s from New Zealand, so that’s a huge plus. 😉 They both did a fantastic job!
Once the hair and makeup was complete we moved to the studio. Here is what my lighting setup looked like.
Since I was planning to have sunlight shining over Zenia’s shoulder in the final shot, I placed a CTO gel on a light and placed it just behind and to the side of where she was standing. This would give a warm glow in Zenia’s hair and the side of her face. I made a decision to blow the background out to pure white for two reasons. 1) For the composite, I knew the background image would be very bright. 2) It gave me the most versatility for future promotional shots.
After the shoot was over, Zenia and her parents went through the gallery of proofs and decided upon their favorite images. I also gave my “artistic opinion” regarding which images I liked the best. In the group of proof images below, I liked the two images on the left, while Zenia and her parents liked the images on the right. It was no shock to Amber (my wife) that I liked the images on the left since I’m always a fan of long, flying hair in pictures. Yes, I’m the bane of every hairdresser I ever work with. I blame the fact that I’m bald for this obsession with flying hair.
The first thing I did was process the images which Zenia and her parents had selected. Here they are.
I also created a concept cover image with a square crop, to give Zenia an idea of what a final image might look like.
Once those images were complete I let Zenia know that I was going to work up two additional images for my own personal portfolio. I told her that she could use the images for her promotional material or anything else she wanted. Can you guess which images I used? Oh yes, here comes the hair!
Much to my pleasure, Zenia really liked the additional two images as well.
The next step was working on the graphic design for the album. This isn’t something which I normally get to do, but since I have some aspirations in the graphic design space, I enjoyed the challenge. As luck would have it, the CD jewel case design that Zenia decided upon required not two, but four images. After discussion with Zenia, we decided to use all four images in the design. Here is how we decided to lay it out.
BACK IMAGE (with spine text)
INSIDE LEFT IMAGE
INSIDE RIGHT IMAGE (Behind CD)
PRINTED ON CD SURFACE
Here is a pre-production concept image from the CD printers website. This is what the album will look like when the CD jewel case is open.
So that’s it! I hope you enjoyed seeing the whole process from start to finish as much as I enjoyed working on it.
Thanks for reading!