For the past decade or so, Jeremy Saffer has staked out a claim as one of the best metal photographers in the business. Having shot countless acts, from up and comers to the biggest in the business, he’s as close to a household name in photography as there is. Saffer was gracious enough to share his 20 favorite photos that he shot in 2013 (actually 21 – he had an honorable mention) with us. But there’s more!
Saffer is teaming up with us to give away the photos! One grand prize winner will pick up a mini print collection of the top 20 photos as well as a $20 gift certificate to his webstore. Four runners-up will get 5 mini prints from the collection and a $5 gift certificate to his webstore. To enter, simply follow Metal Insider and Jeremy Saffer on Twitter and let us know what your favorite pic is and why using the hashtag #saffer2013. We’ll pick winners on Friday, January 2nd.
Without further ado, here are Jeremy’s favorite pictures of 2013.
21 (honorable mention?) J Costa of Thy Will Be Done
J and I have been working together for years, and we always come up with fun ideas, this time I wanted to go with a more serious one. For those who know him, he is the nicest guy with the meanest voice, long long hair and a crazy long beard. So I had an idea to photograph him as Rasputin. It was a concept I wanted to do with him for a few years, but we never had a chance to. During my photo seminar in mass, we were finally able to make it happen. As soon as he put on the jacket, he was Rasputin! Too perfect! We emulated many of the famous poses, but in the end there isn’t one favorite from this set, so here are a few.
20 – Mindless Self Indulgence
MSI have become one of my favorites to work with, they are always pumped to get photos done (most bands are not) – and they always look great and have fun with shoots. It was a bit chilly and raining out, sometime early spring. We found an overhang near the DCU center in Worcester and I broke out the fisheye which I don’t often do for portraits. I had the whole band lean in and it worked out perfectly for this shot, having them big enough in the frame to hide the lighting behind them, while getting enough even lighting on everyone and no extra distracting junk in the frame (which is the challenge of the fisheye if youre not careful)
19 – Monte Pittman
This shoot took place during one of my lighting seminars, where Monte was nice enough to come down and be the subject for it. This is where I was showing everyone dramatic selective lighting. Its with only a dish to his left and in front of him, while ill have him turn his head in just enough to get a scrim of light across the right side of his face and the catch light in his eye. This is actually a close up crop of the full image, which I like much more with the detail and textures you get here.
18 – Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth
During Mayhem Fest I tend to do a bunch of quick shoots for various assignments. On days like Mayhem Fest where a band has a lot of press to do, and its really hot out, I don’t always like the outcome of the photos, because its not as well planned and set up as a non-festival shoot. However this shot was absolutely the exception. After doing the group shots against a grey wall, I took the band and shot them against the sky as an alternate. I wanted to get a couple solo shots of Johan, and I told him to look as mean as possible, leading to my favorite shot of that day. Johan and the sky behind him. Amon Amarth being a Viking band, getting a shot with him against the sky seemed more conducive to their image than shooting them against a wall, or a dressing room, and I like the crop here, where I would normally got vertical (and did for most of the shots) I went Horizontal for an off-center crop and it worked perfectly.
17 – Escape The Fate
The current line up of Escape The Fate has friends from all different places. Max from the original ETF, and the natural born killers, Craig who I know from the newer ETF, TJ who I know from both Motionless In White and Get Scared, Kthrash who I know from lovehatehero, and of course Robert from the original ETF. This was to be the photos of the new line up, officially welcoming Max back to the band, as well as Kthrash who was one their touring guitarist, is now a permanent member. After doing some group shots and some solos, my favorite images were actually the solo shots we did as the sun was going down. The sun was fading and it was getting dark so I had to bleed in the lighting at about a 20th (sketchy! Super easy to blur out) I like these groups of solos because it shows their individuality, as well as their uniformity. To me, it shows where they have been, where they came from, and where they are now. It rules to get to work with so many people I’ve worked with before separately, together in a new (but not new) band.
16 – Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet
This shoot was a warm one. I drove down to Jersey, to their recording studio/practice space, and it was easily 90-95 degrees out and humid. We shot outside for a bit, which, for a bunch of guys in leather jackets, was misery, im sure. Despite the weather, they were excellent. Every set was coming out better than the last, as they were getting a feel for how I shoot, and I was getting a feel for what they look for in photos. The last set we did was on their couch against a red wall. The couch was essentially in an area about twice the size of the couch at best, so my light was off to the side boomed in front of them while I was leaning back and laying down with my neck all the way up in order to get this shot. It’s a single light using the grandbox which pushes out so much light it wraps around the artist and adds light behind them, which was perfect. I wanted to make the reds and blacks pop in this shot, and it worked out perfectly for this iconic shot of Dave.
15 – Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon
I have been photographing Oli since the first BMTH tour of the US, back when they were opening for Kittie and I believe Walls of Jericho? We end up doing on average, a shoot a year, sometimes more. Every time we shoot it ends up being a big magazine spread, and I end up getting one of my favorite images of the year. That is exactly what happened here. I wanted to get something other than using the metal load in doors, so I took the grand box and pointed it toward the parking lot and took a knee to get low to the ground. I had Oli look away for one shot and it ended up being my favorite from this set. The key to these shots is making sure the lighting on your subject is even to the light youre bleeding in from the sky. For a shot like this im at F8-10 (lighting value) – and at a 60th to bleed in the sky (ambient light value).
14 – Piggy D
I met Piggy officially at the Massachusetts Mayhem Festival. We spoke for a little bit about maybe doing a shoot at the CT show. I set up in a hallway by the Zombie dressing rooms against an aqua colored wall which, with lighting, could go dark green or blue. For this shot I wanted to really get the detail of his awesome stage make up. I shot this with the 24-70 2.8 super close using the rimelight/dynalite grand box and it came out as a perfect head shot.
13 – Rock and Shock
This is a portrait series I’ve been doing at the annual rock and shock festival in Worcester, Ma. Featuring both bands and horror celebs, I often end up doing shoots with as many as I can between getting live event photos. This year it fell on my 30th Birthday, so for my birthday I ended up getting great shoots with the cast of the walking dead, Robert Englund (Freddy), Gunnar Hansen (leatherface), Kane Hodder (Jason) Tony Moran (Michael Myers), Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob) Brian O’Hollaran (Clerks), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Twiggy Ramirez (Manson/NIN), Robert Patrick (Terminator), and a slew more. This could be its own gallery.
12 – Telle Smith of The Word Alive
Telle is one of those people I tend to do shoots with literally every single time they are in town, which is awesome, because we always get something different every time we shoot. For this shot we set up in the balcony of the palladium and I used a grandbox with two parabolics to light his hair. I used a different crop for this (in camera). To really make the eyes pop. What most don’t know about these photos, is his face is covered in blood, coming out of his eyes. I hated the way the blood looked, and luckily it was really easy to edit out. I think the birthmark on his eye/duotone eyes really pop here, and are far more interesting than fake blood.
11 – Phil Anselmo
This was my first time working with the legendary Phil Anselmo in a photo session. I knew I wanted to get something a bit more dramatic for a b-shot. My main shot of him is straight on, full lit, but for this shot, I took my grand box, turned it about 45 degrees toward the camera and had him look straight ahead so about 75% of the light was behind him and only a small amount of light would hit the left side of his face. I made sure I got the catch light in his eyes, took a few snaps, and this one was the closest one I took, and my favorite. It takes most people a few seconds to realize its even Phil, which I think is cool for a secondary shot. However in this instance, I like the secondary shot more than the primary.
10 – Ghost of Motionless In White
Ghost is the ultimate subject. He is a chameleon and a shape shifter. He can look like one person, and with a quick change can look completely different the next set. It would be impossible to pick a single favorite shot of Ghost for a year, as he has so many incredible different looks. For the released shots from this year, these are two of my favorites, They are vastly different, one is clean cut, suit and tie, where he looks like a bond villain, and the next he is in dead looking make up holding roses, both from the same shoot, just minutes apart. Over the summer I did some shots of him in his Charles Manson look, fully bearded, looking crazy, and just recently, his Lydia (beetlejuice) look. I cant wait to see what he comes up with next, and more than that, I cant wait to photograph it.
9 – Chris Motionless
Chris is one of my favorite people to photograph. Every time we shoot, we get something that becomes a poster, a cover, or a cut out. I had not shot him with the ring light in a while, so I broke it out for some close up head shots. The cool thing about the ring light is the effect it has in the eyes (adding the ring) – unlike most traditional ring light shots, this one is much more noisy, with hair, one eye covered, a tilted head, and all of this just made for the perfect shot. For all shots I tend to focus directly on the eye, and that is most important in ring light shots, if the eye is blurry, you lost the shot. This was both Chris and I’s favorite when we looked at the shot in back of camera before the shoot wrapped.
8 – Bam Margera
This shoot actually got cancelled due to snow, which I believe was the first date of tour. Luckily the last date of tour was nearby and we were able to schedule this shoot with Bam and his band Fuckface Unstoppable for then. His clothing for these shows has tons of texture, so I didn’t want to flatten that by shooting against a boring black, white, or silver background. I found a green wall that would match his clothing if lit correctly. I used a beauty dish main and two parabolics behind him to separate his clothing from blending into the wall and to throw extra light on that wall behind him, and this was my favorite shot of the day.
7 – Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil
I can not possibly say enough about how incredible Cristina is. She has been there since day 1 of my career as a photographer, always supporting me and my work. I am SO fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her though out my entire career, however we don’t really do photo shoots too often. Our last photo shoot (prior to this one) was about 5 years before. WAY too long ago! So I saw they were coming though and set up a shoot. WE did a few sets with ringlight, some with natural light and some using the grandbox and some parabolics. This is another case of someone who is completely incapable of taking a bad photo. Literally every shot looks amazing because she is in it. So with that said, I couldn’t pick a favorite, so here are two. One is with the ring light, and the other with a grand box and parabolics, however I strongly suggest looking up this shoot on my site to see the other shots. Absolutely one of my favorite shoots, and hopefully I can get her in front of my lens again much sooner than 5 years down the road.
6 – Ash Costello & Chris Motionless: Angel Eyes
I have a great working relationship and friendship with both Chris and Ash, so when I knew they were doing a music video together, I flew out to L.A. to be the photographer for it. Between takes I was able to steal them away to get some promotional shots for the video of the two of them. Their chemistry in the video and in photos is incredible. They complement each other very well with almost zero direction, they just KILL it in knowing what looks good. This one ended up being a magazine cover for Xpressions October issue. I also ended up doing some solos of Ash on day 2 while she was “getting dressed” in the video, which I loved the warm tonality of the room, shooting with the 85 1.2 using the ambient lighting they were using in the video for lots of golds and reds. All in all it was 2 very long 12+ hour days to make one of the best music videos, and im honored I was a part of it in some aspect.
5 – Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein
Doyle is someone I’ve wanted to work with for years. When I saw he was with Danzig on the Legacy tour, I instantly put in for a photo shoot, but beyond that, he knew my work thru a mutual friend, so that added a little fuel for wanting to make this shoot above and beyond. I shot him in the same area I shot the horror movie celebs for rock and shock but went a bit darker with his shots. My favorite shot is the darkest of the bunch. It’s a light from above pointing straight down, which isn’t easy because hes so tall. In this shot he almost looks unreal, like an action figure. I can’t wait to get the chance to work with him again.
4 – Jeffree Star
Jeffree is a flawless subject. I swear he shows up to the shoot pre-photoshopped, but that’s just who he is. Every time we shoot he has a different look and different clothing to shoot with. A lot of what I shoot is mute colors and midtones, not heavy saturation or heavy coloring, and usually very dark. Jeffree is the opposite of all of that. When we get to work together, its always awesome, because its blending styles together to get a collaborative idea, where we always love the outcome. This shot was my favorite, it’s a close up using lighting from above (grand box) – with warm tones, cold tones, and mute tones all in one. It really gives you the detail of his facial structure and the textures around it from smooth skin to the furry jacket, it’s a duality of so many opposites, I love it!
3 – Rob Zombie
This was a hectic one. I was trying to get this shot for the entire day, and didn’t know what time I would be able to get it. At first it was going to be him in normal clothing by load in doors, then when it finally got going, it was going to be Rob in stage clothes and make up, directly before their intro music hit, in the green hallway by their dressing rooms. At first I was bummed, I really wanted to shoot it against a metal wall near the load in doors, but after a bit I figured this would be a spot I hadn’t shot before, so itll look nothing like anything else I had ever done before in terms of tonality with someone I haven’t worked with before. He walked in for about a minute – I was able to snap about 12 shots before he had to go to stage. This was the first one I took, and my favorite of the group.
2 – Alissa White-Gluz
Alissa is one of my favorites to work with. She always looks perfect in every photo, so going through a group of her images to choose the best one is a very difficult task, im sure for any photographer. While on tour with Kamelot, she had awesome stage clothes we wanted to shoot in. The main stage of the Palladium was open, So I had her lay down on a drum riser while I set my main light above her pointing down – and two parabolics behind her to give cast shadows and throw light all around her to make her glow. For the final image, the drum riser was edited out… or she can actually float in mid air whenever she wants… you choose which makes a better story.
1 – William Control
William is a charismatic subject. Everything he does looks awesome. So when he hit me up and said “nuns! Lets tie em up!” I got a few models together who could get nun outfits and be a part of the photo shoot. One of the models brought a bunch of…extra curricular toys… which we used to tie up or gag the nuns while William wore the Father William outfit. After shooting with the models, we ended up getting my favorite shot of the year. This was using the beauty dish to his right and behind him a bit – while using a parabolic with a grid to get very specific and concentrated lighting on the back of his head while he smoked. The lighting back lit the smoke, while just a small amount of light went around him, making for what I consider a definitive shot of William, and my favorite of the year.