TOMMY SMITH AND THE BBC SCOTTISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
THE CD COVER SHOOT
PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY DEREK CLARK
After the album had been rehearsed and recorded (see part 1), Tommy wanted to do the shoot for the cover and inner sleeve at Craignethan Castle.
The day of the shoot was a very cold, but dry February morning. We didn't have a set plan, but would have to work fast as the castle was hired for just one hour. I took a shoot through umbrella, a single Yongnou 560 IV flash and a 560 TX trigger. I knew there would be some dark areas of the castle plus being in Scotland, there is no guarantee of enough light.
The castle has a bridge near the entrance, which was as good a place as any to start. I shot a few portraits of Tommy using the flash and umbrella to keep the sky from blowing out. Then we moved on and shot a few pictures around the inside of the outer wall of the castle. Tommy is no stranger to being photographed and has a good idea of what he likes and what he needs to do to get it. I was shooting with two X-T1's and even with the rubber grips, my hands were getting cold. Tommy was holding his saxophone and had nothing to grip except bare metal.
We moved around the outside of the castle and shot more with the flash, which added drama to an already dramatic location. Craignethan Castle is only open to the public from April to September, so we had the place to ourselves, which is just as well due to our timescale. At one of the rear corners of the castle I lay on the ground and shot up. I exposed for the sky and lit Tommy with the flash, trying to stop the umbrella from falling over.
A tunnel runs below the castle from one side to the other with rooms leading off at each end. There is only a tiny amount of light inside and none at all as you go further in. Shooting without flash would be impossible so the umbrella was essential. I placed the light stand just behind me and as close to the tunnel ceiling as possible. Tommy changed into a few different positions and I took some shots, but it was when he relaxed between shots that the best picture was grabbed, which is often the case. This is the shot that was used for the cover. We also shot in the rooms, but mostly using the little amount of light coming in through the small windows.
Tommy opted to design the CD cover himself. He's a man of many talents and as is often with musicians, has a great eye for composition. He's also an X-Pro1 user too.
I'm really happy with how the CD cover turned out. When you hand over your pictures for design, you never know what the end product will be like. But I think Modern Jacobite will look fresh for many years to come.
But it doesn't finish here. There was another shoot to come for promotion and a backup just incase the castle pictures didn't work out. This project has run through every type of light, from ambient at the rehearsal/recording session, then a mixture of ambient and flash at the castle and finally a studio type shoot with 100% flash
Jazz wise magazine (in the UK) has a full page ad for modern Jacobite in the August edition, which is on sale when this post was published.