I got the initial call to shoot the cover of Feb 2017 Mix Magazine from PR maven Gail Parenteau, Parenteau Guidance PR Strategists. One of her clients – Tony Bongiovi of Power Station fame, was needing a magazine cover shot at the Mt. Olive High School recording facility in Mt. Olive NJ. Tony and famed recording engineer Ron St. Germain had built a perfect reproduction of the Power Station control room B in an educational school for use by the students in the advanced music program. Part of a 2.5 million dollar renovation of the schools performance auditorium. Oh, to be young and have access to THAT.
Disclosure: I’ve been a recording studio geek since the 80s – when I attended NYU Music school, and launched a brief career in music. I wrote jingles, then ended up producing them, a young ‘defacto’ head of music at J Walter Thompson. Mix Magazine was the stuff that dreams were made of!
For those of you who don’t receive it, Mix has a pretty defined style for shooting covers. Talent is arranged in the control room – lighting is set, and, as you can see, particular care is shown to the architectural lines of the room. Converging parallels, those pesky lines which would eventually meet if allowed to run into infinity, are squared off. Lighting tends to warm and vibrant, so one needs to be conscious of the color temperature of the room. Lots of reflective surfaces!
Often, lights patterns are ‘cross-lit’ so that you are creating a ratio using two large light sources right and left, just out of frame. While many would consider this a cheat – the ‘wedding portrait’ setup, remember how much of the opposing walls of the studio are glass, , etc. If you can get lit, not see yourself, and get your talent comfortable inside of an hour, cross-lighting is an acceptable compromise.
Squaring The Lines
To square the lines, my first instinct was to use the Hasselblad TS 1.5 tilt shift rig on my Hasselblad H5D 50C with a 24mm lens. This SEEMED right, but in reality, the crop factor made the lens too ‘tight’ for the space. Remember, this is a student facility – the control room is about 20’ x 20’, so losing some of that valuable ‘wide’ just wasn’t an option. Luckily, Hasselblad just added the keystone corrections to its already impressive lens correction suite in Phocus tools… So we gave that just a little ‘nudge’ and… perfect. No visible distortion on the talent, perfect parallel lines up and down.
My crew for this one consisted of my trusty first assistant/producer Rachel Woliansky and one the Jacqui Phillips girls – Katrina Corral, who put of a trip out of the country for a day to take the gig. Rachel has the ability to double on clothing, so once we had the lighting right, she fell back to work on prepping the 6 men in the photo – giving their clothes a quick once over as Katrina did hair and make-up and etc. Nothing too bold – but just enough to control shine, make everyone nice and relaxed looking.
We made a dozen variations of this cover, some inside feature shots too… and some ‘archive’ shots of Tony with the API console too, for posterity and extra points. Then, there were sandwiches…..