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Sax Player Portrait

  
 
friscoron
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Sax Player Portrait


Congratulations to friscoron for winning Feature Thread of the Week with 6 votes - View Previous Winners


Aside from dance and sports and seniors, I love photographing musicians. I try to get pretty creative with the lighting and their posing. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Here's three shots from my shoot with the sax player. I shoot with a Z9 and this is a 70-200mm lens at 150mm. Shooting at f/5.6 and ISO 200. I use edgy lighting, so it's often in line with their face, something 45 degrees to 90 degrees to camera. I usually use one light on the face and body, and then two lights 45 degrees behind him for edgy lighting, and another light above him and slightly behind him.

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2.






3.






Just to give you an idea, here are some of my previous shots of musicians in the studio. I aim for a style that is both lively and edgy. I like to think of them as being on the stage lit only by a single spotlight, something like that.

4.






5.






6.






7.






8. Added a bit of my wind machine to this one.






9. This is Jim Peterik of the band Survivor. Did this shoot for a local magazine here in Chicago area. We were able to use this stage and stage lighting, and a hazer, and then he was front-lit with my lights.







Jan 31, 2023 at 04:45 PM
LarryBeemer
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Sax Player Portrait


These are all nicely done. #5 is my pick of the group with just a minor nit.....I'd like to *not* see hair coming out from behind the bottom of the violin.


LB




Jan 31, 2023 at 09:39 PM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Sax Player Portrait


I'm a musician and I love what you've done! 2, 4, and 6 are my favorites.

One exception - #1 - the white background with that pose didn't work for me. I'm guessing the edgy highlights in close proximity to the white background made my eye freak out a little bit.

Musicians are always a bit tricky to do well because capturing the instrument is as important as capturing the face. Many musicians, myself included, regard the instrument as a part of his/her own identity. I think you nailed 4, 5, and 6 in this regard.

I love the edgy, especially the way you do it. It's so good!



Jan 31, 2023 at 11:21 PM
James Markus
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Sax Player Portrait


Ron,
Good set of images. BTDT, and it can be a challenge to include the person and instrument. My fav is #8. It is a beautiful composition, and the drama of flowing hair added a really nice touch.
Jim



Feb 01, 2023 at 08:02 AM
story_teller
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Sax Player Portrait


#8 is Great! It reminds me of the blonde violinist (Mairead Nesbitt) from Celtic Women. She used to dance across the stage with her blonde hair flying behind her and never missed a note.

I'm not a fan of the white background either. It might work if he were in a marching band uniform. The whole idea of music is to stir emotion/mood that comes through in the photo somehow. #2 an #3 have potential, but his expression is pretty neutral. The rest of the images are much stronger!

Overall, a nice set!



Feb 01, 2023 at 09:49 AM
Danpbphoto
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Sax Player Portrait


These are all well done and executed extremely well! While I agree about the white b'ground, it is still an excellent composition!
Again just a super job here Ron!
Dan



Feb 01, 2023 at 10:54 AM
friscoron
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Sax Player Portrait



Thanks, Larry! Umm... I think i needed you there with me for the violin shoot. That's a good catch. Actually never occurred to me until you just mentioned it, and now it's like.... doh!!!

LarryBeemer wrote:
These are all nicely done. #5 is my pick of the group with just a minor nit.....I'd like to *not* see hair coming out from behind the bottom of the violin.


LB





Feb 01, 2023 at 10:56 AM
friscoron
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Sax Player Portrait


Oscarsmadness wrote:
I'm a musician and I love what you've done! 2, 4, and 6 are my favorites.

One exception - #1 - the white background with that pose didn't work for me. I'm guessing the edgy highlights in close proximity to the white background made my eye freak out a little bit.

Musicians are always a bit tricky to do well because capturing the instrument is as important as capturing the face. Many musicians, myself included, regard the instrument as a part of his/her own identity. I think you nailed 4, 5, and 6 in this regard.

I love the edgy, especially
...Show more

Thanks, Oscar! I'm completely on the same page as the instrument being just as important as the musician, so glad that is noted by you.

The white background, that's interesting to me. It's such a completely different look, obviously, than the black background. When I shoot a musician, I actually think of every single shot as it's an album cover. And to me, the white would make a good album cover. But.... y'know, for others, not so much. I always shoot essentially the same shots against white as I do against black.

Anyway, thanks, esp for your comments re: white background. It's very helpful to know.



Feb 01, 2023 at 11:14 AM
friscoron
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Sax Player Portrait



Thanks so much, Jim! It was especially fun because Mom was working the blower on the hair. It's funny how parents want to do things like that, they get pretty excited.

James Markus wrote:
Ron,
Good set of images. BTDT, and it can be a challenge to include the person and instrument. My fav is #8. It is a beautiful composition, and the drama of flowing hair added a really nice touch.
Jim





Feb 01, 2023 at 11:16 AM
friscoron
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Sax Player Portrait



Thanks! Pretty amazing when they can dance around like that and not miss a beat.

Appreciate the comment about the white. As for the expressions in 2 and 3, I asked him to just play the sax as if he were at a performance. He didn't bring some piece that he needed to actually play the sax, so it wasn't as realistic as I would have liked, but I am wary about guiding them to give me expressions that are not true to their nature. Some musicians do emote while performing, and I think that's better theater. Just like with dance. So I usually take what I get for these.

Ron

story_teller wrote:
#8 is Great! It reminds me of the blonde violinist (Mairead Nesbitt) from Celtic Women. She used to dance across the stage with her blonde hair flying behind her and never missed a note.

I'm not a fan of the white background either. It might work if he were in a marching band uniform. The whole idea of music is to stir emotion/mood that comes through in the photo somehow. #2 an #3 have potential, but his expression is pretty neutral. The rest of the images are much stronger!

Overall, a nice set!





Feb 01, 2023 at 11:20 AM
 


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Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Sax Player Portrait


friscoron wrote:
I'm completely on the same page as the instrument being just as important as the musician, so glad that is noted by you.

The white background, that's interesting to me. It's such a completely different look, obviously, than the black background. When I shoot a musician, I actually think of every single shot as it's an album cover. And to me, the white would make a good album cover.



Speaking as a musician, I too am very glad that you pay this much attention to the instrument. It definitely shows!

I should stress that there's nothing wrong technically with the photo with white background. It's equally as perfect as everything else that you share here. The reason that I did not enjoy it could be purely psychological on my part. I'm not sure. I'm conflicted here because portraits of musicians on white backgrounds have been done before. Some of them are on album covers too and they look good. All this to say that I myself don't quite understand why a white background suddenly didn't work for me this time. I feel like I articulated this very poorly.... if this wasn't helpful I am so sorry!



Feb 04, 2023 at 10:09 AM
neighbourboy
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Sax Player Portrait


Ron, your work is always wonderful and well beyond what I'm capable of. I rarely find anything that I feel could be improved, but on this particular shoot, there were two things that bothered me a bit. You've always been open to critique, even from lesser photographers, so I'll throw my thoughts out there. On the first photo, his slightly bent over posture bugs me a bit. I know players will lean forward sometimes if they're really in the groove. But in that case, I feel like they should *really* be leaned forward. Either really lean into it, or more upright. Here, I feel he just looks like an 80 year old man in a teenager's body. On the 3rd one, the way he's hold his sax with his hands at the bottom and under the bell is very strange. Almost like he's coddling a newborn baby or something. Hopefully my thoughts are at least helpful in some way.

--David



Feb 04, 2023 at 08:09 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Sax Player Portrait


Oscar, I understood exactly what you meant, even tho it's not something one can really explain. The white background takes away from the drama of the black background. In essence, to me, that's it. You didn't articulate it poorly just because it's kind of impossible to adequately explain. It's just like a feeling, if you will. So I appreciate it.


Oscarsmadness wrote:
Speaking as a musician, I too am very glad that you pay this much attention to the instrument. It definitely shows!

I should stress that there's nothing wrong technically with the photo with white background. It's equally as perfect as everything else that you share here. The reason that I did not enjoy it could be purely psychological on my part. I'm not sure. I'm conflicted here because portraits of musicians on white backgrounds have been done before. Some of them are on album covers too and they look good. All this to say that I myself don't quite understand
...Show more




Feb 04, 2023 at 10:07 PM
friscoron
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Sax Player Portrait


David,

I always like hearing people's feedback on my images, positive or negative. This is a safe place for me, none of my clients are here to see anyone critique me. And photography is so subjective, so often a critique can be off-base even if well-intentioned if it's not done with the spirit of the OP's style in mind. But I like it, because I like to try to see my images through an entirely different perspective than my own. Sometimes, it helps, and sometimes not so much.

So here's what happened. I'm photographing a classical musician, someone who sits in a chair and plays with the music book in front of him. I asked him to play the sax like he was Candy Dulfer or Clarence Clemons, sax players who moved around, danced, and swung their saxes up and down. He totally "got" what I was asking of him, was very agreeable to it, but as he was doing it, I was thinking.... this dude never dances around with his sax. And that's what you were picking up on.

On the third one, basically the same thing. I asked him to hold the sax and look down on it. I liked what he did, but I agree, it's like he's holding a baby. But.... the sax is his baby. :-)

Y'know, some musicians are performers on the stage. And when you pull a guy out of the orchestra and ask him to perform on the stage, it doesn't always work. Obviously, I had some shots of him leaning back, and I actually like those just as much or maybe even more.

So I appreciate your comments. I wonder what Peter Figen does when he deals with taking a musician out of his comfort zone?


neighbourboy wrote:
Ron, your work is always wonderful and well beyond what I'm capable of. I rarely find anything that I feel could be improved, but on this particular shoot, there were two things that bothered me a bit. You've always been open to critique, even from lesser photographers, so I'll throw my thoughts out there. On the first photo, his slightly bent over posture bugs me a bit. I know players will lean forward sometimes if they're really in the groove. But in that case, I feel like they should *really* be leaned forward. Either really lean into it, or more
...Show more




Feb 04, 2023 at 10:16 PM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Sax Player Portrait


friscoron wrote:
it's like he's holding a baby. But.... the sax is his baby. :-)

Y'know, some musicians are performers on the stage. And when you pull a guy out of the orchestra and ask him to perform on the stage, it doesn't always work.



I'll bet the client had a strong positive response to the "baby" picture for exactly that reason.

So well said! I too have run into this issue with student musicians. It happens all the time!



Feb 05, 2023 at 03:06 PM
farwest
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Sax Player Portrait


Number 8 all the way. Love the geometry.


Feb 05, 2023 at 09:39 PM
Bill Gass
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Sax Player Portrait


6-7-8 for me, very nice shots.



Feb 06, 2023 at 10:37 PM
AlesiaKimPhotography
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Sax Player Portrait


#5 is my pick! Just beautiful!!!


https://www.alesiakimphotography.com



Feb 07, 2023 at 11:10 AM
xmux
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Sax Player Portrait


Love #8. Wonder what it might look like with a bit of rosin flying off the bow!


Feb 14, 2023 at 04:08 PM







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