Behind the Scenes: 'Sing Like No One Is Watching' Photo Series

Behind the Scenes: 'Sing Like No One Is Watching' Photo Series

We all have our favorite songs that we sing when are going through bad times or want to pump ourselves up. In this hilarious photo series, a photographer captures his friends singing their favorite songs and imagining that the camera is not there. See which song each person was singing! 

The Backstory

There is no better feeling then creating art with your best friends. Turn up the radio and blast your favorite songs together; you can't go wrong with that. Music is a universal language and is something we're all able to connect with no matter what background we come from. Music has the ability to transcend reality and put us in a different world. Everyone has their favorite song, a song that reflects themselves and their personalities. However, sometimes, we are embarrassed to sing it out loud for fear of what someone else will think of our choices. So I asked myself these questions:

What if the people were not watching and it was just the person and their music? How would it make them feel differently about themselves?  

With this series, I wanted to break down the barrier of embarrassment and insecurity and show that through music, we are able to express ourselves and feel confident doing it.

The Shoot

One Saturday night, I was feeling bold. I took out my Universal Savage pink seamless paper backdrop and a couple of lights and set up a vibrant, fun set in the heart of my living room. I invited over a handful of my friends and for four hours, we jammed out to our favorite songs. Each got a chance to photograph each other and listen to each other's music. I asked each person to blast their favorite songs as loud as they wanted and to close their eyes and feel the music and forget that the camera or anyone else was there watching. The resulting images show a candid reaction to their music and give insight into who that person is. Their real personalities shined through. It was exciting to see a quiet and reserved person transformed into a new character full of life. 

The song choices were quite surprising and insightful. The song choices ranged from Panic! at the Disco to "That's What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction. 

The Camera Settings

For starters, I shot this series on the Canon 5D Mark III and a Rokinon 24 f/1.4 Cinema lens. I chose to shoot at a close distance to my subjects in order to create a distortion but allow them to move freely throughout the frame. Additionally, I shot with a deep depth of field to account for their sporadic and unpredictable movement.  My shutter speed was set to a high speed allowing me to capture the motion they embodied.

Shutter Speed: 1/250 s

Aperture: f/8

ISO: 100

The Lighting

The lighting for the set was aimed to be bright and airy and lean towards a commercial look. It followed the basic principles of three-point lighting. In this type of setup, the key light is the brightest main light, the kick is used to edge the subject out from the background at half power, and the background light is to illuminate the background.

I used a set of Aperture 120ds to light the scene. The main light was a 120d knocked up to full power. On top of that, I placed a 35-inch light dome that gave me a soft and directional key light. My kick light was another 120d on half power placed right behind the subject to give them separation from the background. Finally, the third light was placed behind the subject at 45 degrees, aimed towards the background on half power. I narrowed the beam of light to create a spotlight effect. 

The Final Images and Takeaway

Below, you can see the final images from the set. After I shot them, I brought them into Photoshop and boosted the contrast, changed the pinks to make them a brighter luminance, and distorted each one of our faces using the liquefy tool to give the series a more cartoony and animated vibe. 

Song: More Than You Know - Maxwell. The first image in the series is me. Eccentric, quirky, and creative. On my shoots, I'm 100 percent myself.

Song: Twist and Shout - The Beatles. The second in the series is @wedoeverythingmajor, the incredibly awesome, talented, fun Uber driver/photographer. On my way home from a wedding, he mentioned to me he was also a photographer. We bonded over that, and one day later, he's in my studio rocking it!

Song: What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction. The third in the series is @elibely97. She's my friend, and she's awesome! Keep being you!

Panic! at the Disco. The fourth in the series is @madeupbyshayna, the incredibly talented makeup artist that is the reason my shoots go so well. She brings my visions to life and is there every step of the way.

Song: Mordechai Shapiro-Hashem Malech. This is @markuscohn_photo, my favorite fun person I've worked with. He has been with me for every major shoot, and my best photos would not be possible without him by my side.

At the end of the day, this project for me was liberating and refreshing. It's important to push your photography and yourself beyond your comfort zone and try new things. Read my article from last week to learn how to maximize your creativity when you're in a rut. Before I shot this bright and happy series, all my photos were dark and serious, and the subject was always looking straight toward the camera. The project gave my work a new life and spun my portfolio in an entirely different direction.

So, the next time you're in a creative rut, do an impromptu shoot with your best friends, turn on your favorite song and just shoot something you never have before. You never know, it could change your entire mindset and workflow. But most importantly, have fun! Share your shots in the comments! 

Eli Dreyfuss's picture

Eli Dreyfuss is a professional portrait photographer based in sunny Miami, Florida. He focuses on making ordinary people look like movie stars in his small home studio. Shortly after graduating high school he quickly established himself in the art world and became an internationally awarded & published artist.

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1 Comment

“We all have our favorite songs that we sing when are going through bad times or want to pump ourselves up.”

There’s a word for that: presumption.