My first magazine cover: portrait of Elizabeth Shepherd for Tendances Électroniques & Design
A friend and publisher offered me the chance to shoot portraits of the Canadian jazz singer and pianist Elizabeth Shepherd, who was nominated for a 2013 Juno for the jazz album of the year. I was offered a copy of her latest album Rewind, a collection of fresh interpretations of jazz standards that I really enjoyed.
I used to write audio equipment reviews for the print magazine Tendances Électroniques & Design and although my interest has shifted towards photography, I remained good friends with the publisher Franco. The website of the magazine can be found at:
It was my first commercial shoot ever so I was quite excited. With the excitement came the realization that I needed to deliver something in an environment where I did not have complete control.
The constraints are as such: the shoot was to happen within the confines of the Bang & Olufsen demo room at Kebecson, a high-end audio & video boutique located in Montreal. I needed to produce the magazine cover which must feature Elizabeth Shepherd wearing a pair of Sennheiser headphones. Additionally, I needed to produce a number of interior pictures and I did not know what to expect in terms of makeup and wardrobe.
We started with the cover and I used a floor to ceiling B&O ad as backdrop. Producing a cover is challenging because its orientation, portrait, is prescribed and also, space must be provided for the magazine logo and text. I was quite nervous as I am not used to giving directions to subjects. Thankfully, Mrs. Shepherd is very comfortable in front of the camera and we quickly got the desired shot.
While the makeup artist was working, I scoured the room to find a few potential backdrops for the interior shots. I liked some of the backgrounds, especially the red and black which is also a small part of an B&O ad. I felt like it was a classic photographic exercise where you have to produce a number of images within a delimited space.
I did the entire shoot with one studio flash mounted with a small softbox, another with a reflector to light the background, one large reflector, wireless triggers and a single lens, my trusty Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS. Although the equipment did not vary from picture to picture, I tried to light the subject differently to produce various looks. I also tried to produce images both in landscape and portrait orientations for flexibility of placement in the magazine pages. In the end, four pictures were retained for the interior of the magazine as shown below.
I think that the shoot itself took less than an hour with maybe 30 minutes of prep work while Mrs. Shepherd was being made up. I thought it was pretty intense and I really wanted to get the job done quickly. Consequently, I shot tethered to a laptop to make sure that each picture was right. Seeing the images ”full-size” really helps making the right adjustments on the fly.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! It was great fun and so nice to meet beautiful people in every sense of the word like Elizabeth Shepherd. Thankfully, she had the patience to sit through a portrait session with a first-timer without losing her smile!