Lessons from the Shot: Rock Band Promo Shot by Stanley Leary


Figure 1
"Hey can you take some photos of our band for a promo shot?" Was the request from Late Night Reading's drummer Drew Cottrell.
Earlier I took some pictures of the band when they were in town a couple of months ago. I wrote that even the D4 was struggling to take photos in a dark hole like the Swayze's Venue in Marietta, GA.
I had in my van my monobloc lighting kit this time in addition to the Nikon Speedlights.
I went into the parking lot a little later after they had played and set up my lights.  I also asked them if they had something they were looking for.  They didn't have any ideas, so I took the lead and told them about this concept you see above.
Here is the setup for the photo:
Figure 2
Now lets play
Once I have the lights set and get a few of the shots that I was initially looking for, I asked the band to have some fun.
I then took the same setup and moved it to where you could see the Tatoo Shop and the Pawn Store lights in the background.  Here are some of those shots:
Figure 3Figure 4
I would prefer to shoot the promo photos all the time over the concert photos.  Just compare these above to the same band performing below.
Live Performance 
Figure 5
The strobes are on the PocketWizard Transceiver TT5 and they are on Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stands and the Manfrotto 175F Justin Spring Clamp with Flash Shoe to hold the flashes. I am triggering the TT5 using the PocketWizard Mini TT1 and PocketWizard AC3.
I turned the ISO up to about ISO 6,400 because I didn't want the background to go totally dark.
Figure 6
While these are pretty good for shooting in a dark hole, I still prefer having the control I had with the studio strobes and moving the band members around.
My friend Zach Arias launched his successful freelancing business just shooting bands like Late Night Reading's promo shots. He started by just using a Vivitar 285 on a light stand. He was so successful he started a workshop teaching photographers his "One Light" technique.