The Drum Shoot

This is a shoot I had planned to get a photo to print for a music teacher at my school who is leaving at the end of this year. Mrs Dixon who used to be a wedding photographer has helped me hugely with my photography, giving me ideas, tips and all the help I could ask for. 

As a thank you for all her help throughout the year, I wanted to give her a print that she could take with her when she left. However, I wanted to try and make the print a bit more personal for her.

- The Initial Ideas -

Being a music teacher and a drummer, I had a phew ideas to try and incorporate something along those lines and I wanted to challenge myself to create a shot that loooked different, meant something personally to her and stood out.

My first idea was to try and get a big stage with long rows of seats and have the drum kit in centre stage lit by one main stage light. I would stand at the back of the seats and shoot wide with the seats the foreground leading you into the drum kit giving it a very dramatic look and feel. However after calling many theatres and halls there was nowhere that would have the time or space to pull off the kind of shot that I had in mind.

Quick Tip!

Shooting heights angles

When thinking of ideas for new shots try and take into account what kind of a feel you want your image to have. By using different angles that the human eye dosen't usually see can be a good way to draw the eye in to the image and make whoever is looking at it stop and think more about the image. 

Change of plans. I still wanted to use the idea of the drum kit and the stage but my second idea involved being above the drum kit shooting vertically down. I wanted to try and get a different angle that you wouldn't usually see to make the shot look unique and different and to try and shoot in a way that I had never done before. 



- Planning & Shooting -

Now that I had the idea of what I wanted the shot to look like and how I would roughly shoot it, all I needed was to find a location. I tried theatre after theatre and a few halls to see if they would let me use their space but they all said no and that the idea seemed too ambitious. Finally, I asked Mr Mighall the drama teacher at my school about what I was trying to do and he thought the idea was great and said he'd be more than happy to help me.

The school has a small stage that can be put out and as for getting above to look directly down onto the drum kit they also had a crane that they would be able to get out and place in front of the stage. As for lighting, I just used the stage main lights to lit up the scene with a bit of fill flash on the other side of the stage. 

Although I wasn't allowed to personally be up on the crane due to health and safety, Mr Mighall was up at the top of the crane and to make sure It was directly under I had the camera on a monopod that he held out over the stage. To see what I was shooting, I had my camera connected via WIFI to an Ipad so I could see compose and shoot. I mainly just exposure to what I thought would be correct as it was quite dark so I did my main exposure settings before sending the camera up. 

Retouching and Post 

In post, my main job was to get all the proportions looking right as when shooting from above and wide it is very difficult to get everything in line and straight especially over WIFI shooting. Below here you can see about 4 hours of post as I tried to get the proportions looking right and I also lit up parts of the kit so that they popped off the stage more.

Below you can see the Original out of camera image and my Final Image after about 4 and a half hours of proportion fixing.

- The Final Shots -

Overall the shoot went very well and I give thanks to everyone who helped me pull off this shot.

Giving the images over to Mrs Dixon couldn't have gone any better they looked absolutely stunning on print, she loved the prints and was amazing to me to see how an image that has some kind of a meaning to someone can be so much better.


Below is the two Final images that I had printed as 12 x 18 prints for her