A VIDEO OR PHOTO SHOOT REQUIRES ALL YOUR ATTENTION
I drove to the Mint Los Angeles to see Dalton perform Heaven. Heaven is obviously a personal song for Dalton and when I have the ability to direct a video for an artist, I'll take every opportunity to research them. That is the least we can do as photographers and directors, give the client the respect of knowing their project inside and out. In this case, I've known Dalton since about 13 years old and I feel confident in who he is but that shouldn't stop the research process.
I wanted to see him perform "Heaven" live, the video for the song I'd be directing shortly (at the time of publishing this article, the video is in post production). I wanted to see how Dalton's fans reacted to the music, what lyrics they sang along to, how he connected with the crowd and just the overall reaction. I had a good idea of the video direction after numerous chats with Dalton and his management. We discussed possible scenarios and the budget we could play with. If you're familiar with music videos, there usually is a smaller budget. It's safe to say that most people on set are there because of the love for this art form.
When you're photographing an artist or creating anything for them, take every single moment to learn about who they are. That's the single greatest gift you can give another artist, your time and dedication to their process.
Watch them live. Watch them on youtube. Watch covers of their music online, even ask for demos and anything else they may have. Ask to sit in the recording process with them or just pick their brains for a few minutes. Any real artist worth their weight will appreciate the efforts on your part.
RESEARCH THE ARTIST ON ALL SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Read about the song in blogs, on twitter, on Youtube comment sections, and on Instagram. Don't just scan it, overdose on the information. You will begin to notice a pattern of good and pattern of things you should work on. As a photographer/director you will see that the fans have ideas and hopes. Listen to them! They pay the artist and your bills. Ever see an musician completely out of touch? They stopped reaching into the fan pool, and as a result they lost touch. They're not listening to the fans at the ground level, the grass roots.
If you want to give someone a great video or photo shoot, give them the respect of knowing everything about them. If that's too much work, perhaps consider another career. If you're in it for the money/fame, it will not work in the long run. That's fine but at least know your lane. I'm in it for the challenge to create beautiful visuals. Money and attention come as a byproduct.
Dive into their music the way an actor dives into the mind of a character. DIVE IN! Listen to that song over and over. I do this. Listen to it in the car, on a jog, while you work, while you clean, while you shower. Listen to it over and over. Here's what will happen over many listens.
You will hear new sounds, perhaps a faint instrument in the background or light vocals. You will hear the hurt in their voice, or the way the emphasize certain words. THIS is when you understand their art. Distant sounds on a record are there for a reason. They don't just throw those in for good measure. The artist decided that it was important to add that, even if 90% of people won't hear it. THE ARTIST WILL HEAR IT! They notice it the way you and I notice small amounts of film grain, the way we see a small vignette or a boost of the contrast.
That's why we overdose on their music. We owe it to them to create something special, that will hopefully elevate the already amazing sounds.
I made this video to show my research on the Dalton project. I went into the crowds, watched fans meet & greet, hung out with Dalton in the dressing room, saw his press interviews, watched him inhale a pizza and hang out with the band. I made it so that you could get an idea of the workload and hopefully learn to enjoy the process as much as I do!
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