Musicians & The Mosaic: Hollis Brown

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New York City-based Hollis Brown

I first saw the Queens-based band, Hollis Brown, last November at the House of Independents when they were on the bill to open for Vintage Trouble.

They had the type of guitar and rock ‘n roll soul sound I like. When I saw that they would  back in Asbury Park to support Jesse Malin at the Stone Pony, I knew I wanted to get into shoot their performance.

Thanks to an email to their PR person, I was able to get on the media list. With that taken care of, I put out one more ask: Could I shoot the band at my favorite Empress Hotel mosaic wall?

Thankfully, I got the OK for that shoot too, though I knew it would be a challenge.

A challenge because it was going to be pretty dark out there on Ocean Ave. I normally do my Musician & The Mosaic portraits in natural light, though the ones withThe Battery Electric and Bobby Mahoney pushed me into the blue hour.

But I came prepared this time. I’d use my Neewer7 strobe with a shoot-through umbrella as my key light, and a small Neewer LED continuous for just a bit of fill.

Here’s what the initial set-up looked like.


I knew one of my challenges would be how reflective that wall is. I’d be getting a flash pop in every click. You can see it in the background here. When shooting straight on, it on the wide left edge of the frame. It wasn’t bad to remove, but in retrospect, I should have feathered it a bit more.

The other challenges would be: it was pretty chilly, and the band would have to go on soon. I wanted to be all set up for them to step in, we’d get this done, and they can head back up Ocean Ave to the warmth of their dressing room.

I got down there around 6, found a spot close by so that I wouldn’t have to lug the gear to far, fed the meter and started getting set up.

By 6:50 pm, I was all ready for them. My Canon 70D and FujiX100T were fired up and ready to go.

And then…my light fell over, crushing the umbrella. Argh!

Luckily, I had a backup – a Neewer 47″ octa in my bag. That worked just as well, but I was sorry to see that nice umbrella go (they aren’t very expensive but still.) Luckily, part 2, the light was still ok.

About four minutes after I re-set everything up, I got a text from Chris Tuthill, the band’s manager, manager saying they were on their way over. It was showtime.

Now, Mike Montali, the lead singer is pretty lean and tall. At first I wanted him with a foot up on my apple box leaning over, and that’s where we started.

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It was OK, but ultimately, I ended up going with him sitting on the apple box, which I liked better – the photo that leads off this post.

We still had a few minutes, so Chris asked if I could shot individual portraits of them as well. I was hoping for that chance, so that’s what we did.

I really liked the shadow the light was throwing so tried to keep that in.

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Mike Montali, lead singer/guitarist

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Jonathan Bonilla, lead guitar

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Andrew Zehnal, drums

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Adam Bock, keys

And, Chris, their bassist who specifically asked if I could get him lighting his clove cigarette. Of course!

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Chris Urriola, bass

My shutter dragged a little on this one.  I delivered, to Chris, a photo with the sparks and without the sparks. I prefer the one with.

Before we broke, I asked Chris, their uber-stylish if he wanted a portrait. He took me up on the offer!


Right after, we all shook hands, and I said I’d see them inside.

The show as pretty good too!








It was a fun night with a very cool band. Go check out their latest, Ozone Park, wherever  you stream your music. Like on Spotify.

I’ve already put in a print order to send out to Chris, their manager, and Fiona, their PR person. Hopefully, they’ll remember their portrait shoot with that guy in the porkpie hat.


© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2020

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