Shooting an impromptu band promo photo

Band Portrait 1Shutter: 1/100, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 400, off-camera flash

Last night I zipped up to Towson, north of Baltimore to shoot pics of my buddy’s band (for now just called JCK) opening for Everlast. I’ll share the pics from the show in a short while, but I thought I’d show you these impromptu band portraits we shot. We thought we’d see what we could accomplish in the loading dock area of the bar after their set, check it out.



Out of the four or five set-ups, I liked this one (above) the most. The number one thing I hate about band portraits is that they’re either incredibly “grungy” or overly angsty and full of ‘tude. Realistically, you won’t get five guys to just hang out and take a nice portrait naturally, and even less so if they’re rock ‘n roll. For this shot I asked the guys to hang out as if they’re yukking it up in a club, and I run up and took their picture, mid joke. Kind of like a vodka ad, I wanted to show them “in their natural environment”, just slightly exaggerated, and a bit more fun. Even hinting at them “having more fun than you are.”


I had the Yingpo remote flash triggers, (but did not want to tote around my tripod) so the bassist’s girlfriend held my 430 Speedlite flash with a 4″ softbox strapped to it, about five feet behind me and to the left. I wanted a taste of that paparazzi flair of multiple lights coming from multiple directions. We got a couple of shots, and this one was the best balance of posing/mugging and natural look. However it’s not perfect. I also added Omar‘s Sepia and HighPass photoshop actions in post.


Band Portrait 2Shutter: 1/20, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 400

I really like the positioning and background on this one, but the lighting is terrible and it’s all my fault. For some reason the flash stopped firing. The red light was still coming on, but not even sticking it in my hotshoe directly would make it go off. It had fresh batteries, I feel like there was some setting on the camera telling it to not fire. The guys had been good natured up to this point, and allowing me to direct the action, so I kept moving without letting my frustration come through too bad. I had them line up under this one strong bulb, and then hope that the ambient light from the street lamps would let me get something out of it. I loved the smoke and the natural posing, but their faces absolutely need fill lighting (my reflector would have been handy). I eventually cranked up the ISO for later pics, but the posing and expressions were best in this one.


Band Portrait 3Shutter: 1/25, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO : 1600

This was it for the evening, one last lighting set up, then inebriation would be taking them over. I wanted this to stay fun, so we had to move quick. This time I used a different wall mounted light bulb to my back, above my head, but positioned my shot to get some light from the last pic’s bulb coming from behind them. I am definitely welcoming the dynamic angles that come from my 15mm Fisheye lens, but I’m not making them front and center. I love how they’re still goofing around, having a good time, but I could get everyone’s face in the shot, and it still looks like a band photo. I would not use this one to send to the record label however.


Band Portrait 4Shutter: 1/25, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 1600

It’s not perfect, but it’s the best first band portrait I’ve got to show. They’re not quite as goofy, but they’re still natural and relaxed. I like how lead singer JCK is not the obviously front and center (however I may have broken some expected band hierarchy rules). I didn’t want to get too grungy, but it still needed some additional oomf in post, so I added Omar’s High Pass filter, and added some fake shallow depth of field.


In a perfect world, we’d find a cool location, have a tested and true lighting configuration planned out, and spend some real time and effort on making a kick-ass rock ‘n roll portrait. But I’m fairly proud of my first try.


Pics of the live act coming soon. Stay tuned.

This entry was posted in Photo, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Shooting an impromptu band promo photo

  1. Pingback: JCK and the Boys in concert | Nevercap

  2. Pingback: Ayu