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September 09, 2014

The making of an album cover

On October 28, 2014, LIVE's new album, The Turn, will be released.  It's not a secret that I have been working with the band for years, but I had to keep the cover under wraps for a couple of months, until the design was final and a release date was scheduled.  

In these few Summer months, a lot has happened in my life, and Dickens' words "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" never rang truer.  It was a time of unbelievable loss, grief and sorrow, with the passing of my beloved Dad, and a time of great accomplishments in my field.  I was awarded the cover of MIX magazine, with my picture of Think Loud Studios

and I am so glad that I was able to showcase this beautiful studio where I spend more time than in my own home, in all its glory.  It is really, truly, an honor to be here every day, and show the world of music what the founders of Think Loud Studios intended when they bought the building in downtown York, PA, and decided to remodel it.  Now, people, the whole renovation was a long, hard and expensive process, one that merits its own blog post, so I won't go there, yet.  Suffice it to say, it DID NOT look like this when it started...

Back to the cover.  

A few years ago, Chad Taylor texted me that he wanted me to shoot the cover of LIVE's new album.  I saved that text for a long time.  Until I upgraded my iPhone and then it was gone.  But I digress.  Let's just say that when one of the biggest rockstars in the world tells you "you're it", and that they never had a photograph as an album cover before, there is a level of excitement and fear that vascillates back and forth to the point of mental exhaustion.  I wanted to to a good job.  Not only because of the pride I take in my photography, but because this album was so important to so many people, starting with the band members, who have become family to me.  Can't disappoint family, right?  Argh!  Pressure, the killer of creativity!  Fast forward to a few years later, after a kick ass tour and a move to York, PA.  I spent countless hours in studio with the guys, documenting their recording process, the moment of creation.  In awe of their musical abilities and closeness.  No, I didn't forget about the cover, always in the back of my mind, but I truly had no idea what The Turn was about and how to present it in one photograph.  Pressure.

One of the things I love about working with other creatives, is the spontaneous brainstorming sessions we all have at any given time.  One of these times, Chad Taylor and I were talking about a concept he had for the cover, and we started drawing on my board.  There was THE cover.  Now, make it happen.


And here is what the board looked like at the end.  What?  Not clear?  It was crystal clear to me - only I had to make these scribbles become a photograph.  And not only a photograph, an album cover.  Done.  That seems to be my word lately.  Done.  Because, you see, in my head I already saw it.  I didn't have the location or signs, but I saw it.  CT made me see it.

So, after researching and ordering the perfect signs online and waiting for a couple of weeks until they got delivered, I scouted York County every day, looking for the perfect spot.  Nothing.  Not inspired, I picked up the phone and called one of the few people I know in York, who just happens to be one of the most respected business gurus in PA, Rob Kinsley, of Kinsley Construction.  Why?  Because on one social occasion, he said "if there is anything you need, let me know" - I needed a location and help.  And after a few hours of driving around some of the most beautiful parts of York County and landscapes that look straight out of fairytales, we found the perfect spot.  And he made his crew available to me to help with the "construction" part. Who's a lucky girl?

I scheduled the photoshoot a couple of days later, and since I wanted a harsh light for it, I decided to start shooting around noon.  Summer, noon, hot, humid, you get the idea - not pleasant.  I was armed with my cameras, lenses, step stool, and a water bottle.  Hey, can't get dehydrated and drop of a heat stroke in the middle of the biggest photoshoot of my life, right?  

I met up with the crew and we went to work, positioning the signs where I needed them staked.  Nope.  Not quite there.

Moved them around a few inches - nope.  My eyes didn't see it.  

How's that.  Nope.  Something is off.

What if I move them closer?


Nope and nope.  I know these all look the same to you, but trust me, an inch here or there and I lost my shot.

Too close together.

Last one... almost... sorry, it's hot.

YES.  Perfect.  Let's spray paint the exact spot where the poles will be.  Perfect, perfect, I'm getting excited.  

Oh, look, pretty tree to the left.  Ghaaaaa!  Lucia, FOCUS!  That's not what you came here to do.

And now the hard work begins.

While I take pictures on my phone and send them to CT to tease him.

Yes, I did take out my frustrations on the signs before they were placed, with a hammer and chains.  In 95 degree weather.  100% humidity.  In direct sunlight.  Workout!

I couldn't let them be all sparkling and new, now could I?

So, one would think this would only take a few shots and it was done, right?  Wrong.  Almost 2 hours of shooting and finding the right angle, the right cloud in the sky, the perfectly harsh light. The sunburn on my face and arms was brutal.  But so worth it!  

I ended up taking the signs with me at the end, drove to the office and started the download/back up/edit process.  Hours later, I had to go home and eat.  Exhaustion had set in.

Next day, I proudly displayed my edit to CT, and WRONG, all WRONG... How did I not get it?  The edit was too "light" - and after a loooooong conversation with him over what The Turn is really all about, I put on one of the new songs, and armed with a contrast brush, I went to work.  Dodged and burned the hell out of that shot.  Desaturated, contrasted, all while Sirens' Call was on repeat.  In 15 minutes I was done.  Sent it to CT saying that I could not replicate it if I tried and he replied back "Perfection".  Holy shit.  I had my cover.

I hope you will take the time to listen to the whole album and understand the enormous amount of work that went into the making of The Turn.  CCCP is the new LIVE - and the new LIVE kicks major ass.

In Gratitude.  LDG

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