Music Man

A while back, my son Nathan, who is a newly minted audio production graduate, asked me to make some portraits of him for his website. He’s started his own audio production company and needed some decent images of himself. And because he just happened to know a photographer who could provide said images on the cheap (meaning free), we set aside a morning to shoot.

Now, Nathan doesn’t really enjoy having his picture taken. When it’s my idea, as it often is, it’s tough sledding. But today it was his idea. He needed images. He wanted some simple portraits, as well as some with his guitar, and a few showing him recording and mixing. We started with the simple portraits, just to get us both loosened up and to make sure the lights were working. And once I was satisfied, we brought in the guitars.

Nathan grew up playing trumpet in band, but in high school spent one summer trying to learn guitar. By the end of the summer, we all knew he was on to something. As it turns out, he’s a natural guitar player. He’s since had years of professional lessons, but he’s got a gift. And yes, there’s just a tad of parental pride in that last statement.

Of course I shot everything in color, but decided some images just popped in black & white. This seems to me something of a classic musician photo, something along the lines of what the fabulous Jim McGuire has done, although not nearly as well done.

I’ll be honest here — for a long time, I struggled with considering myself a portrait photographer. Frankly, I just don’t like much of what passes for modern portrait photography, where everything is overexposed and backlit and every and washed out. That style of portrait is popular these days, and is easy to achieve, but I find those images bland and unflattering. Eventually I decided that if that’s what a portrait photographer is, I’ll stick to something else.

But . . . if I can make the images I want to make — dramatic, character-driven portraits — I’ll gladly call myself a portrait photographer. And since Nathan gave me a great deal of creative license that day, I was happy. I think he was too.

Nathan’s a talented musician and audio engineer, and I wanted these portraits to serve him well. So after knocking out the portraits, we shifted gears to the environmental portraits, what Joe McNally calls “a face in a place.”

All in all, it was a productive day. I enjoyed myself, although I always enjoy myself when I can spend time with my son.