I had the honor of working one-on-one with the beautiful front woman of Flight 619, Dakota Wilkinson. Besides the stage life that I LOVE to shoot, I decided to expand my music portraits to show off a cleaner, more technical side of my work.
Like I mentioned, Dakota or 'Kota' is the voice behind Flight 619. She's had a strong musical upbringing thanks to her dad, owner of Mad Rabbit Media (the band's recording stomping grounds) and now manager of the band. Don't let her beauty fool you. Shes got brains, as she will be pursuing a career in aviation at Kent State later this fall. Hence the band name and her love for flying. The skies the limit for her figuratively and literately!
If you're available this Saturday night, please make plans to come see her and the rest of the band as they'll be opening for Red Sun Rising in Kent at the Kent Stage. More information and tickets can be found here: Flight 619 w/ Red Sun Rising
These shoots are never quite that easy for me. In hindsight, I needed to prepare a location that would fit Dakota's image as a young rock-n-roll musician. Take for instance her edgy rock star hair. I took that element placed her in a urban/industrial setting in downtown Canton to match that attitude of the rock star life.
Making the Shot:
Now that I had the location figured out, the next question was how to light her. Well, this was a simple solution. Dramatic strobe camera right with a second flash behind Dakota filled with a purple gel to highlight her purple hair and accent her body. Any time you light your subject from the back, it's automatically going to look badass. Guaranteed!
We tried different poses, but the trickiest one was the hair flip. It took about 10 tries to get my timing down and making sure the light was hitting her face since she was in a lower position. If you know Kota's stage presence, you know she's notorious for flipping her hair. Check out the "High" music video to see it all in HD action!
The mic cord was a little fun thing I thought of, but also goes with her routine. I slightly exaggerated the cord wrap around her so the mic wasn't totally lost in the two images. I let her wrap it as long as some of it was around her neck. BUT importantly, reminded her I did NOT want her to strangle herself.
The most important element about making the shot count is being sure you are capturing the authenticity of your subject. I could of gone a completely different route for Kota, but I wouldn't think it would have had a strong impact as what she's always done in the past. The concept is the hardest part. Shooting it just becomes a pre-flight checklist (see, I'm aviation saavy) of things to do.
I shot this with my D600 along with the Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4. The Sigma Art serves about 70% of my portrait work with the 105mm hitting the long end. The SB-910 and SB-700 coupled with RadioPopper triggers were used for lighting. It seems I had everything prepared when I realized I forgotten to bring sandbags to keep the wind from knocking my light stands. Always happens to me that I end up forgetting a small crucial item at home. Thanks to Dakota's boyfriend, Cody for assisting me and making sure the shot was made. Thanks man!
Editing & Processing:
I really didn't do anything too over the top in these shots. Of course, I cloned out the light stand behind Dakota and removed a few distracting spots in the background. To serve the rock star intensity, the saturation was slightly dialed back and to prevent too much of her purple hair from getting too overpowering. Touch up was all done with Lightroom, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software plugin.