Creating an Album Cover: Anne Akiko Meyers’ “Smile”

Creating an Album Cover: Anne Akiko Meyers’ “Smile”

A long time ago, I was a music major, and because I never pursued music professionally, I like to live vicariously through my friends who have. So when my dear friend violinist Anne Akiko Meyers asked me to shoot photos for her recently released album, Smile, I jumped at the opportunity.

In September ’08, we got together on a temperate New York day with my assistant Josh Gerritsen (who is a fantastic photographer) and a make-up artist, and wandered around various locations throughout TriBeCa. I had a number of shots that I wanted to capture, but in truth, I didn’t have a single idea for an album cover, figuring that I would leave that up to the graphic designer.

Armed with her Stradivarius, Anne was playing in the streets when someone yelled down “EXCUSE ME. THIS IS A RESIDENCE. CAN YOU STOP PLAYING???”

So she stopped playing, and instead, I just had her walk along the street as I followed her.


I tried the same thing walking down the middle of a street with a tilted horizon.


Then it was back to the studio (aka my apartment) for more controlled lighting.

We did this portrait with a large softbox as the keylight, and another softbox behind her with an orange gel for an accent.


Here’s the set-up shot for the image that became the album cover. I was standing in the bedroom on a step ladder that Bill Frakes gave me after a Belmont Stakes many years ago.


The lighting was a single profoto with a zoom reflector bounced off the ceiling, which led to the image that was selected for the cover.


Lots of negative space…good for dropping in some type.


Her classical “crossover” album launch got a heck of a review from the New York Times. Her recording of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile and Harold Arlen’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow are tear-inducing. So support the arts and buy her album!

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Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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