Christian Carroll Photography » Christian Carroll is a creative portrait and head shot photographer based out of Redmond Washington in the greater Seattle area of the Northwest. Specializing in headshot, surrealistic, creative portraiture and artistic composites for actors, actresses, dancers, performers, musicians, bands and singers.

Zenia – Album from Concept to Final Design

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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)




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!

Paul Ciura - April 5, 2013 - 1:21 pm

Another great set Christian. I’m sure she was delighted with the outcome. You have mad sketching skills…lol!

Christian Carroll - April 5, 2013 - 2:09 pm

Thanks Paul! Maybe I should give up photography and just become a professional finger sketcher. What do you think? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Crystal Kary - April 5, 2013 - 2:39 pm

They are amazing! Great job Christian!

P.S. I thought your sketch was great. HAHA

Douglas Norton - April 5, 2013 - 3:03 pm

Is there much of a market for sketches of fingers?

Christian Carroll - April 5, 2013 - 3:10 pm

Yes, in the finger food market.

Zenia Lumeria Palkhivala - May 18, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Hahaha! It’s actually remarkable how it ended up looking like the sketch… in all the right ways. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Zenia - May 18, 2013 - 11:25 pm

Thank you so much Christian Carroll for this amazing photo-shoot! Knowing you for the past few years has been like getting to know a family member I never knew I had. <3 You're not only an ASTOUNDING photographer, but you're an absolute joy to work with. You make the environment fun and adventurous. I can't wait to work and play with you again! Yay! :)

Zenia - May 18, 2013 - 11:25 pm

Thank you so much Christian Carroll for this amazing photo-shoot! Knowing you for the past few years has been like getting to know a family member I never knew I had. โ™ฅ You’re not only an ASTOUNDING photographer, but you’re an absolute joy to work with. You make the environment fun and adventurous. I can’t wait to work and play with you again! Yay! :)

Zenia - May 18, 2013 - 11:26 pm

Thank you so much Christian Carroll for this amazing photo-shoot! Knowing you for the past few years has been like getting to know a family member I never knew I had. โ™ฅ You’re not only an ASTOUNDING photographer, but you’re an absolute joy to work with. You make the environment fun and adventurous. I can’t wait to work and play with you again! Yay! :)

Zenia Lumeria Palkhivala - May 18, 2013 - 11:31 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words about me and my mission. You’re an incredible human-being… thank you for being my other family! :)

Pete Nice - September 24, 2015 - 9:31 pm


Head Shots with Chris

Last week Amber and I did a head shot session with a great guy named Chris. Chris also signed a stock model release, which gave us license to get a bit silly during an otherwise “corporate” styled shoot. Heck, we didn’t really need a license to get silly, but any excuse is a good one. Here are some of the shots. See if you can determine which ones I might have used as stock. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And here’s a small excerpt from Adobe Lightroom. What exactly was going on during this sequence of shots?

Paul Ciura - March 29, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Great set again Christian. Would love to see the lighting setup on these if you feel like sharing.

Heather Devine - March 29, 2013 - 2:18 pm

OMG I just love some of these! Especially the one where my sister is embarrassed, but also the smiley bug eyed one, makes me giggle!

Christian Carroll - March 29, 2013 - 6:25 pm

Thanks Paul! I wish I had taken a setup pic of the lighting. I’ll be doing another head shot setup with near identical lighting next week and I’ll be sure to take a pic at that time. In a nut shell, the key light is a softbox at a 45 degree angle (Zack Arias style) and then a kicker light (strip bank with grid insert) placed behind and to the side of the subject. The kicker provides a bit of light on the dark side of the face. Then of course I used two ABs with standard reflectors to light the background (or not). :)

Paul Ciura - March 29, 2013 - 8:11 pm

Sweet, good enough info for me.

Zenia Lumeria Palkhivala - April 3, 2013 - 12:09 am

Haha! These are so cute! This fella has the best face I’ve ever seen! I love it! ๐Ÿ˜€

Head Shot Session with Elizabeth Wade

This past Monday I had the pleasure of doing a head shot session with the lovely and talented actress Elizabeth Wade. She was a delight to work with and we had an absolute blast!

I have also started working with an amazing hair and makeup artist here in Redmond named Shiree Collier. Shiree did Elizabeth’s makeup for this shoot. Check out more of Shiree’s work here.

Below are some of the pictures from the session.

And here are a few of the outtake images. Not exactly “professional” head shot images, but still fun nonetheless.:)

Paul Ciura - March 20, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Nice set of photos. Great smile.

Beth Wade - March 20, 2013 - 6:52 pm

It was such a fun day! Thanks for making it a far more comfortable experience than I had anticipated. :)
(and thanks for the compliments!)

Hug Point at Cannon Beach – The Highway of Yesteryear

This past weekend my wife Amber and I traveled to Cannon Beach, OR as my birthday gift. Most west coast photographers are very familiar with Cannon Beach with it’s amazing rock formations. Naturally I brought my photo gear, but was quite disappointed when the weather turned out to be rainy and windy almost the entire time. Sadly, there would be no gorgeous landscape pictures of Cannon Beach during this trip.

However, things started looking up when one of the locals mentioned that we should visit a spot along the beach called Hug Point. Hug Point is one of the only locations along the west coast where you can still find evidence of the original west coast highway. It turns out that travelling up and down the west coast before the existence of Highway 101 (built in the 1920’s) was done by beach! That’s right, the beaches were the highways. In fact, that is exactly how “Hug Point” got it’s name. Late 19th century stagecoaches that used the beach as a highway had to ‘hug’ this particular point even at low tide to get around it, hence the name.

Despite the crappy weather, I did bring my camera to hug point. You never know what you might find, right? While there I took the below photo of Amber standing in a spot that had been carved out of the limestone cliff. Little did I know that another photographer had taken a similar picture over 100 years ago. I happened across it when I got home and started researching the spot. Check out the comparison below.

If you look close enough, you will notice the wagon wheel grooves in the rock on either side of where Amber is standing. Isn’t that crazy?

When looking at the old photo, the first thing that struck me was the fact that this photographer was far more bad-ass than myself. Hauling what was probably a large, wooden daguerreotype camera in the back of a wagon while traveling on this terrain would not be for the faint of heart. I considered the fact that I actually debated whether I should take my small digital Nikon camera down to the beach that day because it was raining, cold and I didn’t want to lug it around. Clearly I’m a wimp and this guy was a bad-ass photo ninja.

I also got to thinking about how my grandmother, “Granny Max” as we call her, was born only a couple years after this photo was taken. If her parents wanted to travel up and down the coast, this is how they would have done it. In fact, she has told me stories about riding with her parents in their horse-drawn wagon when she was a young girl. It’s astounding to me that things have changed so much in such a relatively short period of time in terms of how we live our lives and the luxuries we all enjoy today.

The scenery at hug point is absolutely incredible. The above seasonal waterfall is just a few hundred yards away from the location in the previous photo.

If you ever visit Hug Point, I highly recommend getting a tide schedule. The location is only accessible during very low tide. The locals told stories of tourists visiting the point at the wrong time and becoming stranded on the rocks when the tide came back in. For example, the spot where Amber is standing above is typically underwater.

Another fun, historic object which can be found at Hug Point is the above topographic benchmark which was placed there in 1932. See if you can find it while there. Hint: You might have to do a bit of climbing to locate it.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with the following, incredibly historic and awesome picture of…

…my dog Peepers totally photobombing in his own special way. I didn’t realize this had been captured until I got home from the trip on Sunday night. Thanks a lot Peepers!


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