For the past seven years I’ve been creating artwork from live performances at Sound Bites Grill. There are about 125 images hanging on their “Wall of Fame.” I’ll share a few ideas on how I get from live performance photos to the finished piece below.

Capture individual entertainers

Focus your attention on individual players. Photograph several sequences during the show. I usually spend some time just watching for behavior before capturing images. Does the performer close their eyes while singing? Move back and forth from the microphone? Dance around the stage?

Individual band members extracted from their photo.

My goal is to capture the leader of the band and feature them in the art piece. That means I’ll spend more time focused upon them as they work.

Additional ‘straight’ images of the band in action as a group are made as well for PR and marketing.

Signatures and autographs

Message and autograph from band leader. Black marker on white paper.

In order to protect the restaurant have all the performers sign a release for showing their image in the club and for advertising future appearances.

At the same time, have the band leader sign their autograph and pen a message to the house. Have the rest of the band sign an autograph as well. This saves trying to track down band members in the future. Autographs are signed with a black Sharpie pen on white paper.

To add the autographs the image is inverted to white over black. In Photoshop the autograph Layer is changed to Screen Mode, which leaves the autograph and causes the black to disappear.

Photography post production

Select your favorite image of each performer. Then, make a selection of your subject and place upon its own layer.

Open a new file. In this case, I am starting with the brick wall with the Sound Bites Grill logo. Drag and drop each entertainer into the new file. Resize and position each appropriately.

Photoshop Layers palette

Add a texture (or two or three) and change blend modes until you achieve the effect for which you are looking. Shuffling the layers can give you different looks. Masks can be helpful if only part of a texture layer is wanted.

Add Drop Shadow Layer FX to add some depth and dimension to the stage. You can add an Inner Glow as well.

When adding an Inner Glow or to control the Drop Shadow, the FX can be placed upon their own layer using the Layer > Layer Style > Create Layer. Add a Layer Mask to the resulting Layer(s) to remove the parts of the Layer Style you don’t need.

Final touches

Completed art hanging on the Wall of Fame at Sound Bites.

Last but not least I add the band name, my logo and email. And, viola! Print and frame for hanging.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

P.S. – Here’s another image from Sound Bites Grill and the process of adding signatures. Images were captured with the Panasonic Lumix G9 and the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Lens.