Portrait with a grand piano


I completed my second commercial portrait session for the Tendances Audio & Vidéo magazine. I was asked to meet and capture the portrait of Anne Bisson, a singer and pianist, at the Opus recording studio in the Lanaudière region where she is working on an upcoming album. She had rented a stunning Bösendorfer concert piano for the recording so we decided to integrate the regal instrument to the portraits.

The session went very well as the subject is very comfortable in front of the lens and came up with various poses and expressions without any directions. It was a pleasure to work with Mrs. Bisson.

Given the size of the grand piano, I used a 2’x5′ softbox attached to a 1200 Ws studio flash to light it. I used a smaller softbox to light up the subject. For some of the shots, I climbed on a ladder as I wanted to feature the magnificent sound board. Also given the size of the studio and the fact that we wanted full body shots, I used a shorter than I normally would for portraits.

I always wanted to make environmental portraits but never got around to shoot any. This is about as close to an environmental portrait that I have shot to date. Although it requires schlepping around more lighting equipment as one needs to light the subject as well as his/her environment, it is thoroughly enjoyable especially when the environment is a musical instrument of that caliber!

Another interesting note is that the studio is located on the bank of a river in a beautiful natural setting. We also tried to include the natural surrounding into the pictures. This was done by shooting mostly at the ”golden hour” when the exterior lighting could be balanced with the artificial studio flashs. The sky and ice on the river come out on some pictures as is, without the need for any tonal compression. It works just by good old timing!

I featured above the picture I like most but I also included below other pictures sent for selection to be published.

Equipment: Canon 5D Mk II DSLR, Sigma EX 50mm f/1.4 lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 4.1

8 thoughts on “Portrait with a grand piano

  1. I’ve just found your blog and I’m very impressed.
    I really like these portraits, you have managed to make the sitter relax and feel comfortable ans it shows. I like your use of light it has really made the photos stand out. I especially like the over-head images where you have lit and shown off the piano to its full potential. I would have liked to see some interaction between the sitter and the piano but I’m sure you have far too many images to show on the blog.
    A great set!

    • Thanx very much George for your thoughtful comments. It is true that there not much interaction between the musician and the instrument. We did try some shots where the subject would “play” but they did not really turn out well.

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