Making an album cover photograph for piano rockstar, Kevin Burdick, gets increasingly difficult, as we continue to push to limits of where we can take his pianos. His most recent album, The Ivory Coast, took us and his piano to the sand dunes in Yuma, Arizona, where we suffered through extreme heat as we tried to hoist this heavy piano through the sand. It was fun, but challenging to put the album cover together.
This video includes interviews with Kevin Burdick about the making of the album cover, video footage of Kevin’s exclusive sand dune performance of Freight Train and many of the photos from the album photo shoot.
The video was edited exclusively in Adobe Premier CS5, which uses the 5D Mark II video file natively without requiring a conversion like Final Cut Pro. One more reason that Adobe is the best choice for image making professionals.
The final album cover contains four different photographs: the piano, Kevin on the sand dunes, the ocean and boat and then the texture. Follow the post below to see the various elements of the album cover and the progression of the album cover.
Moving the piano was very difficult. We obviously could not get it to the top of a 30 foot sand dune, so we found some small “mini dunes” that were accessible by truck and off loaded the piano there. But even then, it took three of us to move the piano and I think all of us almost popped a disk in our backs. This was one of those old pianos and it was HEAVY!
Our first photograph was the piano. Since it was the hardest thing to move, we figured we would start with that and match all of our angles for future photographs to that. We shot the piano early in the morning as the sun rose so we could get the same lighting we would get at the top of the sand dunes down the road. We had to shoot pretty quickly so we could get out the the large sand dunes before the sun got too high in the sky, so we got our shot done and sped off for location 2. The Sand Dunes.
This is our second shot, which is not too complicated a shot to create, it is just getting to the spot that is difficult. In order to get out to a spot that has the same angle as our piano shot we had to hike in a mile or more into the Sand Dunes. This is not like walking on the beach. First, it is hot as hell. Second, the sand is very deep. Third, walking up hill while the sand falls downhill makes for some very intense stair step workouts that create the sense that you are not going anywhere. Fourth, did I mention it was HOT! And of course, Kevin is not wearing shoes!
Once we climbed high enough to get a shot from above looking down on Kevin and a series of dunes behind him, we got many many variations, as well as some video footage for music videos, etc. We also got some cool shots for Dixon Golf in the United States’ biggest sand trap (watch for tomorrow’s post). And then it was up to me to get the rest of the shots.
This photograph, which I had taken earlier at a wedding in San Diego worked perfectly for the background. We wanted our Sand Dunes to overlook the ocean with some kind of a boat back there, so I searched my image catalog for the terms ocean and boat and come up with this image. I worked perfectly. I suppose, had we been going for realistic, the clouds would have been completely wrong for the photo montage, but we were looking for a dreamlike album cover of a place that exists only in the mind, so this fit the bill.
Then it was off to the image catalogs again to find the right texture to distress the image a bit. The texture also helps to mold things together that otherwise wouldn’t fit all that well. I keep a collection of textures for this very purpose in my image catalogs. When I am shooting weddings or travel photography, I keep my eye out for interesting textures and collect them for uses just like this. Being organized enough to find them is the real key. So, I typed in the word texture into my Lightroom Image Catalog and choose the texture I wanted. If you are having trouble finding your images, you need to do more key-wording!
This is what the photo composite looks like without the texture, before it is cropped and placed into the album cover design.
And again, once we have added the texture and the text to the photograph. You can see how much the texture helps to soften the look of the image and make it a bit more dreamlike. I actually prefer the tall skinny version of the image more than the square album cover. I miss the days when you purchased a CD in one of those long skinny cardboard boxes that you could further design. This would have been a perfect photograph for one of those. But alas, now you will simply go to iTunes and purchase Kevin Burdick’s new album, The Ivory Coast, on iTunes and see only the square front cover.
But of course, if you do that, you can see the back cover here.
We actually set up the piano the night before the shot so that we wouldn’t have to cary that thing in the dark. So as we left it for the night, the sun set in the desert and the lonely piano stood quiet and alone among the shrubs. I love this shot.
Photo Shoot Details: