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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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