Tear Sheets: Grace Kerlin – Trying To Find Album

Been waiting a while now to put this up on the blog. But, now, finally, I can do it!

Last week, just a few days before Christmas, Grace Kerlin, a local high school senior, dropped her first album, Trying To Find. 

The album is fantastic, and I encourage you to give it a listen. Click here to find it on all streaming platforms.

Back in late September or so, I received an email from Grace’s dad, Michael, outlining this album project, and asking if I’d do a photoshoot with Grace to try to get a great cover shot. Of course, I said I’d love to and we made plans to for me to visit at their house and listen to the near-final demo of the album.

Yes, the whole album was being recorded and produced in the Kerlin’s basement. While they didn’t have some full-on recording studio, Michael had all the tools he needed to mix this album and do the recording himself. That’s a whole other story.

Anyway, I got a listen to the full album – Grace’s sound and lyrics is a cross between Brandi Carlile and Stevie Nicks, to me – and we started to go over what Grace and Michael from the photos. It was a great chat as it really gave me some good ideas.

A couple of weeks later, on a chilly, rainy Friday afternoon a couple of weeks before Halloween, we did the photoshoot in the Kerlin’s garage (which was impeccably clean, unlike my own.). It turned out to be the perfect studio space for me to set up my 47′ Neewer octo with the Neewer Vision 4 strobe and the Fuji XT3. I knew this light set up would be versatile enough to give me what I wanted.

What I didn’t know…and was pleased to find out…was just how comfortable Grace was in front of the camera! She took direction really well, was very relaxed and that allowed us both to have some fun and get some great shots. Here’s a sampling of the different looks we went through.

This was a set up we spent a lot of time on. One of Grace’s songs had strong supernatural feel and draws in some tarot card imagery. We had anticipate this may be the cover image, so that’s what I was shooting for her, literally.

Fun little backstory: I had bought this brownish, textured backdrop late last year in anticipation of using it for the jazz portraits I shot back in February.

But, I never did use it then, and packed it away. When I was thinking about this shoot, I was thinking about Danny Clinch’s Grammy’s set up, something to give feel and texture to the photos.

I also knew I wanted Grace seated, and posing behind a table. I brought a card table and set it up, and over it, I threw this luscious red-purple swatch of fabric I bought at WalMart the day before for $7. I didn’t expect Grace’s top to almost match it but, lucky for me, it worked out well. Going to hang on to it!

All in all, we shot for about three hours, and I was happy with what we got. Yes, I had some technical issues at times – my strobe stopped recycling quickly enough, and I couldn’t get my speedlight to “talk” to the wireless transmitter. But overall, the shoot went really smoothly.

I’m really happy with the photo Team Kerlin chose for the cover. No lie – when I’m listening to it on Spotify and I look down at the song title, it’s cool to see my image of Grace looking back at me.

She’s a real talent – do give her a listen.

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

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