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This has been a photo concept that has been floating around in my head for over six months. Seeing it finally come to life was a lot of fun. Whatcom Sound, a DJ services business, is one of my commercial clients in the Bellingham area. They are armed to the teeth with an army of sound equipment. A while back, while visiting Paxton, the owner, I took notice of all of the speakers lining the main office walls. At that moment, the lightbulb popped on, an idea already brewing in my noggin’. The shear number and size of speakers lead to Guitar Hero-like visions in my head, a rocker performing windmill strums along their electric guitar, surrounded by an wall of speakers, colored backlighting striking the scene, and a splash of fog to give just the right recipe for our drama/color smoothie. I got home and drew out the concept, and to my delight, the photograph that followed that drawing months after was identical (I can draw one mean stick figure holding a guitar, I’ll tell you that much). Aside from the crudeness of my quick doodle, making it’s way to paper simply to prevent forgetting the idea all together, it ended up being exactly what I sought when it came to attempting to bring it to life with a camera months later. Really fun when that happens.

The ultimate goal for this shoot was to provide Whatcom Sound with some marketing material to advertise rental and audio services. This particular set of imagery will be targeting rental customers, bands who need to bum gear for a “gig,” youth dances, etc. This kind of imagery will without-a-doubt separate Whatcom Sound from all others when marketing material is executed to this level. Do you know of any other local DJ service business around pulling this off?┬áThe other secondary goals are to stop you and make you look at it. It’s just fun, it delivers the musical experience, pushes you into that environment, and if anything, literally shows you what is possible with Whatcom Sound. A lot of businesses are constantly having to worry about providing the amazing services they preach about in their marketing. It’s quite the opposite for Whatcom Sound, as they provide an amazing experience through top-notch gear and seasoned DJ’s who know how to rock the right music for the right crowds. It’s the past marketing material that has fallen short or representing how great this business is, as they truly deliver. You might be thinking this is a bias perspective, cause heck… they are a client of mine. I’ve had a long-running relationship with Paxton, and have personally attended dozens of shows they put on, and every time I’m left thinking that the music experience is hitting perfection-like levels. Their DJ’s cater to their audiences cause they sincerely care and want everyone to really enjoy every song. THIS is what we needed the marketing to reveal. Bring it to a personal level, show them that we are doing our very best to give them the best experience we can, and how we do that. This shoot is just the first of many as we coordinate marketing material to target all the different facets of the biz.

Of course it makes it way easier to make something like this happen when you work with a great commercial client that says “yes” to you asking to use $20k worth of speakers for a few hours to do a shoot like this. Paxton is great with letting me run with ideas. Since it was so much heavy gear, we decided to conduct the shoot right in Whatcom Sound’s office area. I knew that I could make these photographs look like a concert stage regardless of where we actually shot them, so we kept the heavy lifting to a minimum and built our set where the speakers already were living. With an hour of rearranging, we had our space cleared out and our wall of speakers in place. Next came the lights, there are 7 in total being used to etch-out the scene, 3 of which are designed to be in the photograph. Six studio strobes and one hot shoe flash, the three lights in the scene are gelled for color (there will be some behind the scenes pics and video posted at a later time for those photogs out there). So about two hours into the project, speakers in place, lights up and balanced the way I wanted them, and our setup was ready to go.

Dana Miller, my go-to makeup/hair artist, was able to make the shoot. I know everything is going to go great if she is there. I can work for hours trying to perfect my photo and lighting technique, but I’ll totally fail if my subject isn’t looking the part. She ensures thats not the case. If I am shooting for commercial clients and my photo subjects are people, I’ll always offer up her services, you can’t go wrong.

My rocker girl subject is Blayke, a friend of a friend. I was shopping for a girl with a punk-like feel, fun hair, you know… someone who could pull off the rocker thing. I was shown a few pics of Blayke and knew she’d work great. She did great, especially for it being her first real photo shoot.

Whatcom Sound’s main color is purple, so I ran with purple on one gel, red and blue on the other two lights, which come together and make… that’s right, purple. After all, if we are using these for marketing, where purple text will be running amuck, it’d be nice for it to blend gracefully into the imagery. When the lighting hits the fog, the fog takes on the color of the lighting, so we are pulling down color into middle of the frame, in and around Blayke.

The concept in my head and on paper is the further away, full-body framed shot, but I worked in closer to Blayke with a wider lens for a more intimate feel with the rocker, which also reveals more of the environment. Once we worked the guitar for a while, we swapped it out for a mic, and I like how they turned out just as much as the guitar photos.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Lots of photo shoots from this past week to blog about, so check back soon!