I was in between meetings at a portfolio review event in New York City last week when I received a phone call from a number that looked very familiar. When I answered the call I was happy to hear that it was Roadrunner Records on the other end. They were in a tight bind and needed me to shoot Korn for their publicity photos. Being a long time fan of the band I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I have been listening to Korn’s music for a long time now. I remember during my high school years hanging out at my friend Matty’s house when I was first introduced to their music. Matty played “Children Of The Korn”, which featured Ice Cube on the track, because he knew that I was more into hip hop back then. I was instantly hooked after listening to that song. I’d later find myself listening to their first album “Korn” on repeat throughout high school and then adding “Life Is Peachy” and “Follow The Leader” throughout college. Although I was listening to a lot more hip hop those days, Korn’s music was always a welcome change when I needed something much harder. Although their style did change a little as they recorded a few more albums and I began to lose interest due to these changes, I was very impressed with their MTV Unplugged album. Combining their sound in an acoustic set along with Japanese drums and other unique instruments and collaborating with artists like Robert Smith and The Cure and Amy Lee of Evanescence made this album a welcome addition to my CD case (remember those?).
As I mentioned, this shoot came together very quickly, with only a few days to schedule the shoot, find a location and all the other details that are entailed in a shoot like this. Korn was performing at The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Sunday, November 6th and I was scheduled to shoot with the guys a few hours before their show. The day before the shoot I drove up to Huntington to do some location scouting. I was hunting for a place that would suit Korn’s new album “The Path Of Totality” but also pay homage to the albums that made them icons. In a town like Huntington this turned out to be an impossible task as I walked for hours and not finding a single location that would work for my vision. That was until when I was walking back to my truck and passed the restaurant Honu on New York Ave. I walked in and spoke with the manager about what I was interested in doing and they were more than happy to allow us to shoot in the restaurant. On the day of the shoot my assistant Dan Gottesman and I set up for two locations within Honu and were ready to go. Unfortunately, after about an hour of setting up and light tests, management told us that we were going to have to photograph Korn in the venue across the street. Hey, these things happen and you’ve got to be ready for it and perform like a professional.
After breaking down the two sets and moving the gear across the street, it was time to find a new location within a very tight timeframe. The Paramount is a newly renovated venue which worked out amazingly well to accomplish what I needed to do. As you walk to the main floor of the venue, you walk beneath two stairways going through a wide hallway with black metal rods and pipes aligned vertically. I decided this would work great for one of two setups. Lighting for this setup was fairly simple. I used a 69″ Elinchrom Octa high overhead and in front of the band as my key light. This worked fine but I needed to get some highlights on those metal bars on either side of the band. To achieve that look, I had two Elinchrom Ranger Quadras (one on each side) placed behind and to the side of the band on the opposite sides of the bars set at the lowest power. Now I had a nice looking photo of the band from these three lights but the photo was still not exactly what I wanted due to the stage lights directly behind the band. The crew was getting everything ready for the night’s show and this caused a problem for my photos. Luckily I was able to block out those stage lights with a 9′ seamless that I brought for a backup plan in case I couldn’t find a decent location and also to shoot solo portraits with. The seamless was set up directly behind the band and did an excellent job blocking out the stage lights.
After we completed this first set up with the metal bars, I had the guys walk around to the opposite side of the seamless for a few group portraits and solo portraits. The first two group portraits of this blog post are from this setup using a photo that I took while location scouting in Manhattan a few months ago as the background. Below are my solo portraits of the band, which I kept very minimal using only the 69″ Octa.