The Cover Up

I had the great opportunity to work with the band The Cover Up on Modern Art/Epic Records a few months ago.  Some of the coolest, most humble genuine guys you'll meet.  They're music is pretty incredible.  I recommend going and taking a listen to them.  Pretty brutal music, and they put on an incredible show. For the shoot we wanted to do something controversial, memorable, and definitely something that probably would be frowned upon.  There are so many things that you could do that could fit that criteria, but I wanted to do something that the label would look at and not say, "uhm, no, absolutely not.  Take that down now."

We came up with the idea of all of them dead from hanging.  I know, it's not the most tasteful thing, but if you knew these guys, it works.  And I knew I could pull it off in a way that wouldn't be too br00tal.

I needed the lighting to be as dimensional as possible due to the fact i was going to be adding layers and layers onto the composite, and a lot of the lighting was going to get muddied down.

I used a 4 light setup on this one.  Beauty dish overhead, large softbox camera right, and 2 kickers in smaller soft boxes for the upper torso:


After brainstorming how to make , the best idea would be to have someone stand on a ladder holding the rope tight:


For safety, the rope wasn't really tied into a noose.  That was something I could create later in Photoshop.  The makeshift loop would put tension on the neck and pull it well enough before it would undo itself from the tension.  Safety knots are the only knots I know how to tie.

When I was ready to shoot, I'd count to three and the hangee(?) would jump.  At the same time, the one holding the rope would pull up.  Sometimes it'd briefly choke the person.  Oh well.  Realism, right?

The end result was this:


In hindsight, I definitely wouldn't have used a black backdrop.  I figured since the composite was going to be dark, that'd be fine, but i also didnt anticipate all but one of them would wear black pants.  I got all the shoots, and everyone looked surprisingly dead via rope.  No weird faces, weird shadows.  Everything was great.

Once again, I'd prefer not to go into my editing techniques.  Secret secret!  The fun part came throwing it all together.  I like shooting composite because it gives me complete control over an image.  The downside is it's composite.  Not real.  Fake. Bleh.  I love light.... I love light rays, reflection, fog, smog, dust, particles, etc.  I try to incorporate that into my work, and in this shot it was no exception.  I had a photo of an abandoned school that i thought would work perfectly.  On the left side of the hallway were big windows.  I perfect place for some dust particles!  I also needed to create a noose out of the rope we had as well.

In the final image.  There's over 32 layers of just overlays over the image.  That includes my scribbles, drawing, text, typewriter, crumpled papers, sketches, etc....  There's so many subtle things in this picture, I doubt you'll ever notice most of them.  But that's the fun.  The words are actually very significant to the overall image, and if you took the time to decipher them, then you would have too much time, and wouldn't really be edified as much as you wanted.  There's also some strong significance as to why only one of them is hanging onto his life in the picture and the rest are dead.  You can ask them about why that is.  They'll be more than happy to tell you.

Final Image:(click to enlarge!)


Here's another image from the same shoot:(click to enlarge)


Merek Davis