I love doing photoshoots for musicians. I get to be creative, think outside the box, and make something that will be seen by an audience outside of my bubble. So, when Toronto singer Tafari Anthony approached me to shoot his EP cover, I was all in.
As soon as I heard the title of the EP “The Way You See Me,” my gears immediately started turning. I thought of doing a nude shoot, ideas obscuring parts of Tafari, and lastly, I had an idea of playing with opposites. So, I pitched these ideas to Tafari, and we ended up doing a few different shots for press and such, but the idea of physically ripping out a strip of a photo to obscure his eyes really stood out in both of our minds, so we got to work pulling references and getting clothes sorted, and then, we were ready to shoot.
The gear I used was pretty simple. I shot this with my trusty Fuji X-T3 and the 35mm f/1.4 at f/1.4. For lighting, I used two Cactus RF-60‘s. One was in a large softbox, and the other was a bare bulb. Behind Tafari, I hung up an orange piece of satin I got off of Ali Express and draped it to look intentionally messy, to give us some texture and visual interest. Once I had my lighting dialed in, it was time to shoot.
I chose the 35mm f/1.4 as my lens of choice, instead of the more optically correct 56mm f/1.2, because the 35mm has a special “pop” that is incredibly difficult to replicate in post-production. I set up my keylight directly beside Tafari, lighting him from the short side. I love photographing this way, since I feel that it makes the image look totally premium.
For the tear-out effect to work, we needed a clean plate. After taking a few shots of Tafari posing in front of the satin, I had him step out, switched the camera to manual focus so the focus didn’t shift, and took a photo of the background.
Editing happened in four stages. The first was basic adjustments within Capture One, such as saturation, contrast, color, and the like. These are always super basic and just simple tweaks to ensure that the image “works.”
Next came the Photoshop work, including general skin clean-up and some more color toning. I was sure that anything I did color-wise to the photo of Tafari I also did to the photo without Tafari to ensure that they matched perfectly.
As you can see, the difference between the Capture One edit and the Photoshop edit is quite minimal but rather impactful. Once I got approval from Tafari, for the third stage, I printed both the photo and the clean plate and laid them on top of each other and got to ripping. To get the white edges on both sides, I was sure to rip up rather than down for both ends, resulting in this.
To scan the photo back into the computer, I just used my X-T3 and an RF-60 to light it, bounced off of the ceiling. The last stage of the process was the more graphic design end of the spectrum. Now, while I could have done this myself, Tafari is a graphic designer as well as a singer. so we decided that it would be fastest and easiest for him to complete his vision of the cover himself, adding the final look to the shot and getting the crop exactly where he wanted, rather than spending days going back and forth about it. This resulted in the final album cover seen here!
Overall, this resulted in an image I am extremely proud of and is probably going to go in my portfolio, as it represents an incredible collaboration between myself and the client to make something eye-catching that sticks in your mind. Have you ever shot an album cover? I’d love to see your work in the comments below!