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Micro-Project 3: Building a Photographic Identity for a Band

Gabriel Camelin Reflective Practice MA Visual Communication Birmingham City University May 2010


Introduction

Bang Sue Train Station

If bands are remembered for

where speed, mobility, good sense of

something else than there music, they

composition and mastering the decisive

are remembered for their appearance.

moment make a good picture.

As much an influence than influenced,

I’ve always been interested in CD

musician, especially pop, rock and

covers and felt that I should try to take

electronica ones are often associated

pictures myself, finding a location or a

to fashion, design and films. The band

studio, plan each shot on paper. This is

identity, the building of idols, has

what I tried to achieve here.

always been a good opportunity for photographers and designers alike.

I still think I will need more practice in this field especially in term of art

In my case, I do not consider

direction and directing model. This was

myself as a fashion photographer nor a

still a valuable experience that will help

specialist of studio photography. I am not

me beyond the field of photography. Art

foreign to the field either as I have been

direction, and directing are also a key

working for promos for the last 2 years

of Music Video promotion.

and I have been teaching photography to my students for around the same time. My closest experience is stage photographer, where band members are not fully aware of the camera and


Band Portrait

Between two tracks.

Having troubles to travel around Bangkok,

waiting for Bangkok to push them further away. In

because of availability, lack of transportation,

the middle of this, trains and a flock of voyagers are

political instability and of course weather, I thought

in constant motion.

that I would need to use a familiar location.

The poetry of the location would not suit with

Bang Sue station, in the north of Bangkok

every bands, but I thought that Slowreverse was a

was perfect. Close to my home, I could explore

perfect match. Bangkok based electronica band,

it easily. It is also accessible by subway, which in

Slowreverse’s music is ethereal and calls for

riot time was probably a good thing. But the real

travelling. This world of soft green, brownish and

reason for the choice of this location is the mood,

pastel colour also match their colour code.

the feeling it propagates. Very urban with several

I chose to shoot at sunrise to have a hotter colour

skyscraper in the horizon, iron tracks rusting and

tone, and to make it a bit more dramatic. It might not

old buildings from early XX

century mixed with

be the perfect match, but I felt that the location and

dirty concrete construction. This is contrasted by

the band was talking to each other better than other

the strong but silent presence of nature. Trees and

places I have seen in this town.

th

dense vegetation are growing on a no-man’s land


Oil, Pang and Uze from Slowreverse.


Waiting for the Train.


Individual Band Member Portrait

Uze, the guitar man. Slowreverse is an indie band. They do not like to

one of my lesson learned for this project.

talk loud, are quite polite and shy in the same time.

Concerning the individual portrait session,

Such personality is golden on some occasion as it

I chose a long bridge over the tracks. I felt that it

is easy to befriend them, however I found it really

offers an interesting composition and could allow

hard to direct them, because they were waiting for

me to focus more on the visage of my talents. I used

me to tell them what to do. What I like when I am a

a Nikon 105 mm lens to flatten the background, get

stage photographer is that I do not have to ask or

better proportion for the face and still reaching a

direct talents. They usually forget the camera or

shallow depth -of-field allowing each talent to stand

when they are aware of it, perform some amazing

out from the background.

egocentricities that makes what most of the photographers are looking for.

I spent also a certain amount of time on photoshop to remove unwanted hairs, brightening

However, in this case, I felt that I needed more

the foreground while underexposing the background.

directing skills. I can not just blame the stiffness of

I feel that my work could be improved a lot more with

my models... as a photographer we need to work

more knowledge on the use of shoe flash.

and direct our models to get the best shot. This is


Pang, the angelic singer.

Oil, the singer behind the keys.


Photo for CD Cover

On board... While all the previous shots would be mostly used

My second serie is more experimental: before

for web, press and flyers. I wanted to experiment a

the shoot, I felt a strong connection between

few shots for album cover. These are usually the

chronophotography and slow motion. Even if the

most difficult one, as they must attract the eye of

exact name of the band is “slowreverse� (and not

the viewer, represent the musical content and of

slow motion), i still believed it could be a promising

course tell us about the band members.

visual representation of the band.

I thought that a basic portrait with a sunset will

I could forget the traditional technique of

not be good enough, as it lacks of impact. This why I

chronophotography that request a stroboscope and

came up with the train serie. The first shot above has

a black background and opted for the photoshop

a strong impact because of the colour and texture,

solution favourited by skaters and snowboarders...

it allows our imagination to work on a narrative and

Despite an interesting result, I think that I

of course show each band member clearly. Despite

would need more time to reach a better result.

that, it leaves a considerable space and possibilities

A better setting would have helped too, as I spent

for a graphic designer to put the band logotype and

considerable time on photoshop removing/motion

title.

bluring the grass...


Uze’s choronophotograhy before cropping for CD cover

Pang’s choronophotograhy before cropping for CD cover


Oil’s Chronophotography blending each layer, before cropping for cd cover

Various experiment of CD covers.


Conclusion

Second idea for a CD cover

This was the first time I took pictures of a band

busy carrying my equipment... I feel that directing

knowing what result or scene I expected. I felt that

is probably a difficult step as well, but I want to

I learned a lot on this and I could see what I could

overcome it too, so when running small project I

improve or where I need help next time I do a similar

could put more presence in my work.

shoot.

In term of editing my pictures, I usually spend

A better planning and sketching would improved

no more than 20 minutes, mostly adjusting colour,

my work considerably. I believe that I rely too much

brightness and contrast, but for this type of

on the location to do the work for me when I need

work I spent up to one day per picture (on the the

to control more the elements. This is where some

chononophotography) and still feel that I could work

basic art direction could be handy, and not only for

even more on it. I might need more time to learn

taking pictures!

editing and specially colour calibrating for printing

I also spent nowadays most of my time behind

these pictures doesn’t look the same on the different

my computer in post and forgot how important it is

computers I am using, and I didn’t print test them

to interact with people, especially during shooting!

yet...)

During a video shoot, I am maybe more involved

As the Nowhere Man said: “So little time, so

as there is music and a team behind, while here,

much to know!”. At one point, I will have to make

I relied mostly on myself and my assistants were

some choices...


Slowreverse Band portfolio  

A portfolio containing photographs I took and edited for the Band Slowreverse. This was done for my thesis project with Birmingham City Univ...

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