In April 2017 I was asked to do a photoshoot with my friend’s husband and his band, to get photographs that they could use for promotional materials. I was pleased and excited while being very scared at the same time – what would happen if it rained? what if I forgot something? what if they were all out of focus? or rubbish? I took it seriously and did my homework after making some suggestions on location. They suggested the nearby country park where we had done another photo session about 5 years ago for his solo work. I wasn’t sure that that would work this time as there are four members of the band and there is a completely different feel to their music. I suggested the nearby Oldway Mansion that had beautiful grounds and a wonderful building that was empty and beginning to show fatigue. I walked round there one day and took some snaps on my phone to send to Sally and she agreed that it would work alright.
With this in mind, I took a couple of hours one afternoon and walked round the whole site taking photos of possible places to get the band to pose for me. It was early spring and the flowers in the gardens were just coming out so there was plenty of colour. I checked where the sun was and where it would be at the time we had agreed to meet – nearly midday. I looked at possibilities of places to shoot if it was raining as well as trying to see different backgrounds so it would give them the greatest flexibility of images.
The day itself came round and I was there early so I took another walk round, took more snaps and tested out light metering and whether I needed a flash to boost the light. The weather was perfect, a bright day with sunshine but some clouds too so plenty of natural light. They arrived and stated that they wanted it all done and dusted as soon as possible and that they hated having their photos taken. Oh dear. I was lucky that I had met them before, but I did not know them very well and was a little worried about trying to marshall them around. In the event, they were very helpful and spent a lot of time talking amongst themselves as they hadn’t seen each other for a while.
My pre-shoot walk round and planning served me well as I ushered them to the locations I thought would work best. Being seasoned veterans of photo shoots, they gathered themselves and got their best musician dead straight faces on as well as grouping themselves. I took photos as they chatted amongst themselves as well as dragging their attention back to what we were doing and getting them to look at me. I may not be a professional photographer but I did my best to capture them in the best way and get a connection with them as people as well as as a band.
Kick off – in the hallway that runs outside and up to what was the cafe
They insisted on wearing shades at all times, although to be fair the drummer always wears them anyway, even indoors. Getting them among the bright colours of the flowers was a good idea in theory and while I liked them, they did not work for promo material for precisely that reason. The bright colours set the time of shooting and colour can distract from the wording that they use over the top. So while the flowers were beautiful and at their best, it was not useful for the longer term.
An interesting one was on the spiral staircase outside the back of the house. It turned out that one of them didn’t like heights and so he stayed as low as possible. It reminded me of one of the Beatles covers where they stare over the balcony of a block of flats. You can see him hanging on for grim death at the bottom.
Here is a selection of some of the other locations:
It was a great learning experience and they were really easy to work with given that they knew how to stand and pose. I was really pleased because I ushered them around the various parts of the site, took some photos and then moved on and completed it all within their deadline, with time to go to a local cafe for a coffee. I spent the rest of the afternoon with them before they headed off and the consensus was that it was one of the easiest and most relaxed and enjoyable photoshoots that they had done. They were pleased with the shots too. I was over the moon that I had got through it and captured some clear images for them.
Months later I picked up a music magazine and there among the adverts for upcoming concerts was my photo advertising one of their gigs. It gave me such a buzz to see it, and it still does. Below is the latest one for an upcoming gig and it is great to see them still using the photo I took.
Thank you to Ocean Colour Scene for the opportunity and allowing me to publish the photos for educational purposes.