For Nashville, Tennessee-based portrait photographer Jeff Fasano, combining two things he loves—photography and music—has led to a rewarding career and now a book, “Americana Portrait Sessions” (Vanderbilt University Press), a collection of images of musical artists made over the past couple of decades. Fasano’s tips for making portraits of musicians and bands are gems.
For subjects who dislike being photographed, reduce the amount of equipment. Country music legend Vince Gill, for example, doesn’t like being in front of a camera, so Fasano used just a 1,000-watt tungsten light and an umbrella for his session, during which they simply walked around Gill’s house while Fasano captured moments as they chatted. “At the end of the shoot, Gill said, ‘Wow that was easy,’” says Fasano.
Remember that musicians, particularly guitarists, are often most comfortable with their instruments. Allow them to hold that guitar, and you might get a better shot.
Ask them to look at the photos on the back of the camera as you work. Fasano makes the session a collaborative process with the subject, the makeup artist, the stylist, and the talent’s manager: “I ask everybody’s advice.”
Capture moments, not poses. As soon as it feels like a pose, the subject will get uncomfortable, so take the shot and move on.
Remember that it’s not about you. Connect with your subject and get them into an environment or situation where you know they’ll shine in front of the camera.
Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.