As a music photographer I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with incredibly talented and interesting clients all over North America. I learn something from each of the artists I work with, and they always inspire me creatively.
I’m honored to have placed as a prominent entry in Photo Review magazine’s 2013 Competition, and as a finalist in the Images from a Glass Eye International Juried Photography Show, and worth of mention in the American Icon Art Competition. I’m also extremely thrilled to have my work selected as part of the Annenberg Space for Photography Slideshow Event for this exhibition, COUNTRY: Portraits of An American Sound, which celebrates the pioneers, poets and icons of country music.
Shooting the Music: A Backstage Pass Interview with Musician Photographer Mark Maryanovich By Aaron Bethune
Mark Maryanovich is a Canadian photographer based in Santa Monica, CA, born in Windsor, Ontario and raised on Canada’s rainy west coast. He has won a number of awards for photography and is a referenced source of inspiration by many in the industry. His clients have included Chris Cornel, Randy Bachman, Gibson Guitars, Bob Rock, Chad Kroeger and Henry Rollins to name a few. His work has appeared on the cover of books, in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Canadian Musician and that’s just skimming the surface.
After working with every major artist, label and management company in Canada, Mark’s logical next move was to expand his career south of the border. His personal preference being to shoot outdoors made California the ideal place to relocate. Working in cities like Vancouver often required numerous days to be set aside in order to ensure one day of good weather!
While shooting in LA has the advantage of the weather it has the disadvantage of being home to many, many photographers. So how do you stand out from the crowd and what can artists learn from Mark's success and experiences?
The reality is that there is little difference between achieving success in music, photography, art, acting or any line of work for that matter. It takes undeniable talent and expertise along with commitment, dedication, passion, work ethic, persistence, self worth, belief, among other things and all of which are traits that Mark has learned from his mentor Raphael Mazzucco.
I have known Mark for a number of years. I was already a fan of his work before we met and didn’t even know it. I had albums with his work on the cover, not to mention some of the most recognizable photos of bands I dig have been taken by him. It was a pleasure to get the chance to ask Mark some questions about his career, what artists can do to have a more successful photo shoot and from his perspective what stands out about successful musicians. Here is the Q&A:
Aaron Bethune: When did you first have an interest in photography?
Mark Maryanovich: My interest in photography started late, I wasn’t introduced to it as a career until I was 25, when I met artist and fashion photographer Raphael Mazzucco while I was living in Montreal.
AB: What inspired it to become a career?
MM: The first portrait I ever shot was printed in Ocean Drive magazine. It was of musician David Usher, and seeing it in print was incredibly inspiring.
AB: Why music and how did you get into photographing musicians?
MM: Raphael taught me that you should photograph what you’re passionate about, and I was always passionate about music. To me it combined art and style, and capturing that made for good pictures.
AB: What was your first big break?
MM: My first big break was photographing The Tea Party at Le Studio Morin Heights for Canadian Musician Magazine.
AB: Where did that lead?
MM: I moved to Vancouver shortly after that and started my career on the west coast. I began by assisting fellow friends and photographers Johnathon Vaughn Strebly and Gregory Crow. I also learned about the importance of personal style from Tracey Pincott, a brilliant stylist. In the early days, we were still using film, so testing and learning how to shoot was much different from today. Expensive for one thing, as we had to pay for film for each shot we took. Photographers these days are extremely lucky to have the freedom of digital both creatively and financially, to test, learn and grow.
AB: Has the work always been word of mouth? Are you a hustler?
MM: Pretty much, the work has been word of mouth. I’ve been really fortunate over my career, in that most of business comes from repeat clients and referrals. I guess the hustling part would come in with the fact that on every shoot I hustle to make sure the client’s expectations are exceeded.
AB: What are your keys to networking? How do you build relationships?
MM: One thing about choosing to be a music photographer, is that my clients are incredibly cool people. I always enjoyed going to shows, meeting and hanging out with musicians. I’m interested in music and getting to know them so a lot of my relationships build organically, but they’re always about the work, which is what I most enjoy.
AB: What do you feel beyond talent makes people want to work with you?
MM: I usually try to make each shoot different, and usually it’s on location and somewhere interesting and new to the artist that makes it compelling for both of us. Also, I shoot very differently from other photographers, I think. I prefer to work one on one with the artist, and a lot of artists have said that they appreciate that, and find that it makes the shooting process a lot easier and more enjoyable for them.
AB: What does a typical shoot consist of?
MM: A typical shoot consists of collaborating with the artist beforehand in terms of locations and style, researching the client and their music to fully understand the direction they’re looking to go, scouting locations, planning set ups, then executing the shoot. Beyond that, every shoot is different, which is another aspect I really enjoy about my job.
AB: What makes an enjoyable experience working with an artist?
MM: Good energy and an open mind, a willingness to try something different, even if it’s not been planned beforehand make for an enjoyable experience, because you never know what might work on the day.
AB: From your perspective as a photographer, what stands out about artists that have achieved a high level of success? Is there a certain feeling you get from them, a particular personality, recognizable traits?
MM: Artists that have achieved the highest level of success are usually the most professional, and are focused on getting the job done in the time allotted. Also, good business skills or management with good business skills are really recognizable traits.
AB: What are the key elements to a successful shoot? What can artists do to ensure the best experience and result?
MM: Being on time is a key element for a successful shoot. Waiting for one band member to show while the light is perfect and you have 10 set ups to achieve is no way to start the day. Bringing lots of options in terms of clothing is a great idea. Getting a haircut or doing anything that radically changes your appearance right before a shoot is probably not a great idea, in case you’re not happy with it. Hitting the gym doesn’t hurt either! And as mentioned earlier, good energy, an open mind and a willingness to try something different that may involve working a bit for, are also key elements.
AB: Where do you get your inspiration?
MM: Most of my inspiration comes from listening to the artist’s music, and discussing the themes and things that went into writing and making the songs.
AB: What is your favourite medium to work with? Posters, album covers and portraits/band shots seem quite different in terms of space and dimension.
MM: I like working with bands because it’s challenging to come up with something different, and to have two, three, five or sometimes more people all looking great and interesting at the same time. I love the format of 12 inch vinyl, there’s nothing like seeing big artwork. Bands that are putting out vinyl in this day and age, to me, it adds a touch of class and nostalgia that I love.
AB: Have there been any disaster shoots or exceptionally good ones of note?
MM: Chris Cornell for Gibson Guitars was a definite highlight. I’ve been really lucky, there haven’t been any disaster shoots I can think of.
AB: What kind of music are you listening to?
MM: I usually listen to every kind of music, as I work with artists from a lot of different genres, from rock to country or hip hop and dance. Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of Terraplane Sun.
AB: Are you a fan of anything?
MM: I’m a fan of old cars, music, art, photography and film.
AB: Who hires you?
MM: I usually get hired by bands and artists themselves, management companies, record labels, magazines, or marketing departments at product companies.
AB: You have received a Canadian Country Music Award not once but twice, had your work featured in major magazines including Billboard, Rolling Stone, ION, Canadian Musician, Modern Drummer, Guitar World, and Regional Musician to name a few, Randy Bachman's autobiography has your photo of him as the cover... what's next? Where are your sites set?
MM: My sites are set on developing artMARKet and clothingMARKet. I’m branching out into art photography, and down the road into some select clothing items. It’s new for me, the art part, because I’ve never really considered my work to fall into that category. I’ve been really fortunate though, to have been recognized by the California art community recently, with placements in two juried art photography shows, and a few of my clients have commissioned some personal work of mine, so I thought that maybe this would be a good idea.
AB: How has the internet affected photography?
MM: When I began in photography, the iconic album cover and one or two promo photos/ tour posters were what people identified with the music for one to two or even three years. Now the constant demand for new visuals is phenomenal. As a photographer, I love it, as I love shooting a lot of photos and getting a lot of different pictures from one shoot, and I love it when artists update constantly, it’s a treat for their fans.
AB: Who do you respect in your industry?
MM: Raphael Mazzucco, Anton Corbijn, and Annie Leibovitz I completely respect in the industry, and I’m a huge fan of their work.
AB: Who have been some of the people that you have most enjoyed working with?
MM: I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with amazing clients across the board. I always learn something from each of the artists I work with. One of my favourite experiences was working with Randy Bachman (Guess Who, BTO) at his home in Salt Spring Island. The place was amazing, I remember I was moving some things around his studio to set up a shot and I uncovered a set of bongo drums that were signed "To Randy, Wow, Ringo Starr"… that was pretty cool. Shooting Chad Kroeger (Nickleback) for his custom Gibson guitar at his house in BC was a great experience. He's a true class act, incredibly intelligent, generous and fun to be around. One of my favourite shoots with 54*40 was our first one together, when we shot 8x10 polaroid. Pulling apart that big sheet of film on the day after running it through a processor hooked up to my car battery with Neil and the guys was a once in a lifetime experience. Having producer Bob Rock in my studio with his son was overwhelming and the interest he took in my work was incredibly inspiring. One of my first ever shoots I'll always remember was with Henry Rollins. Super intense.
AB: What drives you? What gets you excited?
MM: The picture I’m going to shoot next.
AB: How do you approach photography of people vs. of product/instruments?
MM: My experience with shooting product has been that usually the musician is included with the instrument. Then it becomes more about the person, more of a portrait. Photographing people is about building confidence with them, whereas in shooting products and instruments I’m always looking for how to be creative with it.
AB: Where have you had to travel to for photo shoots?
MM: All across Canada, from Salt Spring Island to PEI, New York, Texas, Nevada, Nashville, and all over California.
AB: What are some of the most unusual places/sets you have shot?
MM: Monahans Sandhills in Texas, Valley of Fire Nevada, Death Valley in August, Brooklyn Bridge at 5am, rooftops in LA.
AB: Who would you like to photograph?
MM: David Bowie.
Interview by Aaron Bethune
Aaron is an author, music consultant, creative collaborator and musicpreneur.
Mark Maryanovich – Rockin’ Photographer Rolls
By Steven Alan Green
Album cover art took a powder on August 1st, 1981.
That dreaded date will live in infamy, for MTV was born as it was the beginning of then end of the fetishization of rock n roll album art. Soon shrunk to a DVD, iconic visual imagery of the music makers would forever (it seems) be relegated to the swift electronic flashes of the music video. Music would devolve into assembly line production of electronic melody, beat boxes and choreography.
Marshal McLuhan was right. The medium is the message. Few music artists would not just survive the video onslaught, but would make hay with it in ways we couldn’t even begin to comprehend. Bowie, Talking Heads, Devo, and of course Madonna. Oh, yeah; and Michael. Those guys kept their videos music true to who they were as musical artists. Dancers and other visual acts who happen to be great musicians. Flash forward a 100 years and wowzie; the Internet has spiked the ever-evolving youth culture into a new land of visual delight and explanation. Welcome to the world of rock n roll photographer Mark Maryanovich.
Mark Maryanovich gets Chris Cornell right.
Canadian born and America burnished, Maryanovich doesn’t just capture the moment like a wild beast, he invites it in and offers it a cup of tea.
Avidly aware of corporate marketing need, as well as the sacred trust of the artist to keep his or her message pure, Maryanovich meets both artist and suits halfway and does it without compromising either side. Take for example his work with the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. The image of Cornell resting next to his Gibson electric is both symmetrical as well as conflicted; compounded in a way which darkens the green of his guitar, contrasting it with the purity of his bright white T-shirt, as well as the darkening encroaching Abbey Road like bricks on either side, giving the inescapable conclusion this is an important, complex and indeed ultimately doomed musical artist. One gets the feeling Maryanovich is clever-er than he even lets on, which is always a delight when as one of the record keepers of history and the corporate curators of culture, not only understand, but employ artists on every level of product.
Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan. The glowing stage presence of Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan is akin to photographic evidence of life on Mars; the clear depression of golden hair, sweaty skin and tethered leather second skin gives all we need to know about that moment, but at the same time, ominously too pure an image. And that seems to be what Mark Maryanovich does best. Not just capturing the right moment. What Mark Maryanovich actually does is what all great photo-artists of his time do. They influence our vision.
His work with women shows their power, their beauty, their intelligence and not in a fetishistic way. Maryanovich and his camera act like keepers of the flame, as evidenced by the simply unadulterated clarity of his work. The observer gets the feeling that he not only loves what he does for a living, there’s ample evidence Mark Maryanovich loves his subjects. That concept compared to the all time greats, Adsel Adams loved his pine trees, Diane Arbus loved a good freak, and Annie Leibowitz loves Mick Jagger’s lips. Maryanovich loves the unknown, both the actual unknown, but also the unknown within the known. (Wait a second. Did I just say that?)
From book to album covers, portrait and journalism, like a really good singer, he covers it all. Ultimately, what makes Mark Maryanovich a stand-out in the field of personality photography is that he’s quiet, unassuming, and friendly. He can afford to be. He’s armed with a camera.
For The Hollywood Dog, This is Steven Alan “Woophy” Green Sag
Famed music photographer, Mark Maryanovich, talks about his love of photography, influence of Chris Cornell, and his favorites
Spread the love Portrait and band photographer, Mark Maryanovich, has been photographing bands, artists, and the like for several years now. The Canadian photographer has featured such rock icons as Chris Cornell, Bob Rock, Elliott Smith, for album covers, and companies like Sony, EMI and Warner Chappell Music, among others. He’s also photographed commercial work for Gibson Guitars, Peavey Electronics, and his work has been featured in such notable publications Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone, and the book cover for Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories.
Maryanovich’s impressive roster and work is evident through his dedicated photography of bands, artists, and musicians alike. We had the distinct pleasure of talking to Mark about his interest in photography, his greatest memories from some of his work, his time photographing the late and great Chris Cornell, and of course some of his favorites and music and photography. Read on below:
What influenced you most in your pursuit of photography?
Capturing style in a portrait influences me. I’m not that interested in fashion or trends. The early day musicians (Bowie, Stones, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, etc.) created the fashion for the time, and still do today. You can buy fashion, but you can’t buy style (though, these days, you can hire a good stylist).
Your photography is highly esteemed by your peers and critics alike; what do you enjoy most about photography; portraits, live photography or both?
Portrait photography; I prefer to create a moment rather than capture one.
What advice would you tell a photographer wanting to pursue a career in music photography?
Take a business course first, before pursuing any career in photography. It’s all business.
Is there anyone you haven’t shot on your bucket list, that you’d love to shoot?
Ever since I started as a portrait photographer, it’s always been David Bowie. Not only for his music, but also for his effect on pop culture. I was very saddened by his passing, and now it’s a moment I’ll never get to experience, and an image I’ll never get to create and a memory I’ll never get to cherish. There’s still a lot on the bucket list… it’s a pretty big list.
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite, thus far?
First: Downchild Blues Band. My parents took me, I was super young. There was too much drinking, swearing and smoking, and that was just from the band, for starters, so guess who got to beat the traffic home?
And Favorite: The Tragically Hip at the Whisky a Go Go in LA. I was 18 with my two older brothers. It was us, three dudes that looked like they didn’t have quite enough hairspray to cut it in the band Poison, and ten rodeo girls all with cowboy hats and everything. By the end of the set, all the cowgirls were on stage partying with the band. It was a phenomenal night at a historic venue in the city of angels!
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
The first LP I actually bought myself, believe it or not, was the pop sensation Shaun Cassidy’s self titled album in 1977, with the #1 U.S. single “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” on it. After listening to it once, I was super jazzed, and proudly wanted to share it with my friend. So I tucked it under my arm and walked over to his house. En route, the album slid out the a** end of the jacket, rolled down the street, cracked and was scratched to s***. But this did not crush my love for the vinyl recording.
Which five artists and/or albums would you not want to live without?
and, of course, Gord Downie
Who would wanna? Right?…
Who are your top three influential photographers?
Do you have a guilty music and/or entertainment pleasure?
Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while listening to Shaun Cassidy. (just kidding, about the Shaun Cassidy part, kinda) (smiles)
LA Style Goes South ✈ Mark Maryanovich Creative Spotlight
By South 40
Welcome to our Creative Spotlight, where we’re highlighting the talented creatives who make up the community here at South 40.
This month’s Creative Spotlight focuses on award-winning photographer Mark Maryanovich. Canadian native, LA-based Maryanovich has a reputation for capturing the true style of artists and a knack for finding the right culture in each location to express his subjects’ authenticity. Let’s delve into Mark’s photography story and discover who he “rubs elbows” with!
What’s your favorite spot to photograph at South 40?
My favorite spot to photograph at South 40 is–every spot! As a photographer who likes to move quickly, it’s so easy to get around and change backgrounds, with the potential to get an abundance of images in all directions.
As a photographer from Los Angeles, I felt truly lucky to discover South 40. Coming from out of town, it was refreshing not needing to scout around the area for the right locations. The property has a wide variety of locations within its boundaries, providing me with diversity in one place.
What artists inspire you?
Artists who inspire me include Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash. They have true uniqueness in their music and personal style. David Bowie was the master of individualism and trendsetting in music and style, always changing and evolving. His effect on pop culture was like no other, a true maverick and trailblazer. I’m grateful for his contribution to our world’s culture.
Why do you think South 40 is an ideal place to take photos and do you have any suggestions for other creatives interested in using the South 40 property for photo or video shoots?
South 40 is the perfect place for almost any type of creative. With so many assets and varied backdrops around the grounds, it is truly a place to achieve a variety of images for your clients. The added bonus at South 40 is you get to work with Ann and Jeff, creative people whom are so inspiring and pleasures to be around. They’ve worked hard to provide a fantastic array of resources, clearly assembled with creatives in mind.
My suggestion for other creatives interested in using the South 40 property would be to take advantage of this tremendous resource. It’s more than a production location, it’s community of inspiration. My thanks to Ann and Jeff and the team at South 40 for developing such a unique space for us to be creative in.
Where has most of your training come from? At what point did you look in the mirror and say “I am a professional photographer”
I first began my photography career while living in Montreal. I had the opportunity to meet a phenomenal photographer who was working with a rock band my brother was managing at the time. We instantly became friends, and over the next couple years he mentored me in photography and changed my life. When I moved to Vancouver, I began my career as a music portrait photographer. After nearly a decade of developing my craft and style, I headed south to Los Angeles, and began working in LA and other U.S. cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Austin, Nashville, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
When I started in photography, it was during days of film, so it was an expensive hobby; they called it a rich man’s sport. The only way to continue pursuing my love full time was to get paid for it, so becoming a professional was really the only option, and I had to become one quickly.
What inspired you to become a photographer, especially in the music industry? What keeps you inspired?
When I began my career as a photographer, I was a huge music fan, and attended shows and concerts regularly. The visual style and individualism that musicians had really inspired me. The personal styles of artists like the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, drove fashion trends, and it seemed authentic, not manufactured. The challenge to capture the personal style of each artist continually inspires me.
You have photographed many aspiring musicians; is there one experience that stands out as memorable–funny, surprising, or perhaps didn’t go as planned?
I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity I’ve had throughout my career to work with fantastic artists and individuals, all of whom have been unique and memorable. One truly unforgettable experience was creating a portrait of Billy F. Gibbons from ZZ Top. The portrait was taken during the first webisode of The ART of GIVING, a new series that exists to create awareness for the charitable causes championed by the world’s most iconic artists, created by Matt Sorum (legendary drummer of Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, and Velvet Revolver) and I. The autographed print of the portrait sold at auction via Charitybuzz.com, with proceeds benefiting Adopt the Arts Foundation, a non-profit organization keeping the arts alive in America’s public schools.
What makes Tennessee–and rural America in general–such a special place for shoots? What feelings do you think these locations invoke?
I have always preferred to shoot outside, rather than in a studio or an interior location. Working predominantly with musicians throughout my career, I found that having the artist outside in a unique location really puts them at ease. It always seems to free up their energy, allowing me to capture a subject’s truest self.
Rural America provides an endless number of backdrops that (especially in Tennessee) seem to be infused with history and tell a story that adds to the overall narrative of the image. To me, these locations invoke a timeless feeling that adds to the portrait rather than overwhelms it.
What creatives inspire you?
The photographers I have watched and studied since the beginning of my career are Annie Leibovitz, Raphael Mazzucco, and Anton Corbijn. With so many fantastic photographers in the world, if you watch too many different ones, it is extremely easy to lose your focus on where you want your own direction to be.
Do you have any advice for fellow creatives, especially those motivated to become professionals?
The best advice I can give anyone who would like to be a professional photographer, is to take a business course first. Anyone can take a good photo these days but having good business skills and great customer service is what will make someone a professional.
A GLANCE BEHIND MARK MARYANOVICH’S UNIQUE STORY ON HOW HE GOT INTO PHOTOGRAPHY.
Award-winning photographer Mark Maryanovich has captured an impressive variety of artists including Chris Cornell, Bob Rock, Chad Kroeger, Elliott Smith and Henry Rollins.
Mark Maryanovich’s photographs appear as album covers and artwork for companies such as Sony, EMI, Warner Chappell Music, and Mark has been nominated four times (twice in the same category in 2012), and has received two Canadian Country Music Awards for Recording Package of the Year.
Mark’s commercial clients include Gibson Guitars and Peavey Electronics, and his work has been published in Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines. Mark had the honor of providing the author photo for best selling biographer Robert Lacey’s Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty, and book cover images for the legendary Randy Bachman’s autobiography Vinyl Tap Stories, and Matt Sorum’s autobiography Double Talkin’ Jive: True Rock ‘N’ Roll Stories From the Drummer of Guns N’ Roses, the Cult and Velvet Revolver.
Mark has been recognized by the prestigious Photo Review magazine competition with his selection as a prominent entry, and by the California art community, with his placement as a finalist in the Images From A Glass Eye International Juried Photography Show, and honorable mention in the American Icon Art Competition. Because of his work in this genre, the esteemed Annenberg Space for Photography selected Mark to be part of their slideshow exhibition Country: Portraits of an American Sound, which celebrates the pioneers, poets and icons of country music.
Mark’s images stand out from the masses with a unique quality, a quality created by a unique style of shooting; an experience that captures the raw essence of his subjects. Mark provides a multitude of images to fulfill the constant demand for visual content, while creating a cohesive brand identity for his clients that translates intangible qualities into tangible form.
Currently, Mark is excited to be working on The ART of GIVING with Co~Creator Matt Sorum. Purely a project fueled by passion, The ART of GIVING exists to create awareness for the charitable causes championed by the world’s most iconic artists.
How did you first get into photography, and how did your career develop?
Mark Maryanovich : I first began my photography career while living in Montreal Canada. I had the opportunity to meet a phenomenal photographer who was working with a rock band my brother was managing at the time. We instantly became friends, and over the next couple years he mentored me in photography and changed my life. I then moved to Vancouver Canada and began my career as a music portrait photographer. After nearly a decade of developing my craft and style, I headed south to Los Angeles, California. I began working in LA and other cities throughout the States, including New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Austin, Nashville, Phoenix and Las Vegas.
What gear do you shoot with these days?
Mark Maryanovich : These days I primarily work with Canon cameras, though throughout my career I’ve used many different brands and formats. Bronica, Pentax, Lumix, Nikon, and every kind of film and Polaroid.
What are some unique challenges that come with working with indie music artists?
Mark Maryanovich : The biggest challenge I find in working with indie music artists, or any music artist, is that they usually would rather be performing, recording or writing music than getting their photo taken, which I can completely understand. I think it’s my job to be organized, quick and efficient to help make the process as painless as possible.
How do you determine how much to charge for your work?
Mark Maryanovich : Usually what determines the cost of the work is, the time it takes, the number of set ups (different shots requested), the amount of prep work (location hunting, travel, etc.) and the amount of post production work involved. I found in my experience that no two jobs are ever the same.
What is the one photo you’re most proud of creating?
Mark Maryanovich : I’m very grateful for every opportunity I’ve had throughout my career to work with some fantastic artists and individuals. The photo I’m most proud of creating is the portrait of Billy F Gibbons from ZZ Top. The portrait was taken during the first webisode of The ART of GIVING, a new series that exists to create awareness for the charitable causes championed by the world’s most iconic artists, created by Matt Sorum (legendary drummer of Guns N’ Roses, The Cult, and Velvet Revolver) and myself. The autographed print of the portrait is at auction via Charitybuzz.com with proceeds benefiting Adopt the Arts Foundation, a non-profit organization keeping the arts alive in America’s public schools.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in photography?
Mark Maryanovich : One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be over prepared. Things will never go exactly as planned, bad weather, locations fall through, people are late, anything can happen on a shoot. Being able to pivot and adjust quickly to any situation comes from being prepared for anything.
What advice do you have for photographers looking to follow in your footsteps?
Mark Maryanovich : The best advice I can give anyone who would like to be a photographer, is to take a business course first. Anyone can take a good photo these days, but having good business skills and great customer service is what will make someone a professional.
Q&A With Renowned Photographer Mark Maryanovich: Music Box Artist Consulting
Photographer Mark Maryanovich has captured an impressive variety of artists including Randy Bachman, Bob Rock, Chad Kroeger, Elliot Smith and Henry Rollins.
His iconic images have adorned album covers and artwork for Sony, EMI and Warner Music Canada, as well as artists such as Big Sugar, Default, Marianas Trench and Grammy Award winners 54*40. His commercial clients include Gibson Guitars, Monster Energy Drink and Peavey Amplifiers, while his work has been published in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Modern Drummer, ION, Canadian Musician, and Muzik etc. magazines.
Mark creates a unique style and image for each of his clients, in various locations across the globe. He provides a variety of cohesive imagery for promotional campaigns in all media – Pictures that stand out from the masses and allow clients to effectively promote themselves and their projects.
Mark received a Canadian Country Music Award for Album Design of the Year for George Canyon’s What I Do, and recently, Mark had the honour of providing the book cover image for Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories – the autobiography released by Penguin Group Publishing in December 2011.
What are some important things that every artist or band can do to prepare themselves for a shoot?
When prepping for an upcoming shoot, sometimes a good place to start is by looking at other photos/ album covers to see what you like. Having verbal discussions with band members, your team and the photographer is key to making sure everyone's on the same page and after the same outcome. Along the same lines, already having a cohesive style and image in place that all involved are happy with presenting is also important. Don't get a hair cut or do anything that radically changes your appearance the day before the shoot in case you're not happy with it. Hitting the gym doesn't hurt either ;)
What is one thing you like to see bands come to the shoot with that makes them come off as professional?
Options. Lots and lots of options when it comes to clothing and accessories. More is always better than less. Coming to the shoot with good energy and an open mind can make for amazing photos, because you never know what's going to work.
What has your favourite ever photo shoot been?
That's a tough one, I've been really lucky and all of my shoots have been special in some way. Ones that stick out would be shooting with Kyprios on the Brooklyn Bridge at 5am, working with the legendary Randy Bachman, the My Darkest Days shoot in the sand hills of Texas, my first shoot with 54*40 using 8x10 polaroid on location, the Tea Party in Morin Heights Studio (where David Bowie, Rush and The Police recorded), working with the coolest man ever Gordie J of Big Sugar...
What are the best colours to wear on camera? How many wardrobe options should each member be prepared to bring?
Generally, solid colours work best, no patterns or logos. Black is always great and really highlights the face, which should be the first thing someone sees in the photos. When photographing bands, it's nice when things coordinate in terms of color and style, so lots of different colors can also work great, as long as they don't clash.
As to the earlier question, each member should bring as much as possible. Keep in mind that fit is the most important thing. How clothes hang is more important than the actual garment itself. Also, bring stuff you're comfortable wearing and what you wear on stage. The photos want to accurately represent who your fans will be seeing when they come to your shows.
What advice to you have to any up and coming photographers in the music industry?
My general advice to all new photographers includes studying with a professional photographer in order to gain technical skills, and knowledge pertaining to how to deal with clients and maintaining the business side of your career. Furthermore, studying the work and careers of successful photographers in your field in order to gain inspiration and information on the business moves they made to get where they are in their careers is also a good thing to do.
Also it is extremely important these days to learn as much as you can about the business side of things, as it is a market crowded with photographers due to the digital era, and any skills in business pertaining to follow up with clients, meeting and exceeding their needs, promotion, budgeting and cash flow will put you over the top.
Along those lines, professionalism is the most important aspect in maintaining a successful photography career. The clients must enjoy working with you and enjoy the experience but most importantly, they must know that they can rely on you to show up with your best game for the job, be an utmost professional and deliver what they expect.
Having written that, passion and vision are also a key ingredient to success. Find out what you like about your photos, what kind and style of photos you are passionate about taking and focus strongly on those areas. Make sure you believe in what you are doing, which will give you the confidence to assert your vision when working with clients.
Doing your research about your client (their history, their music, where they are coming from, etc.) is also very important. Nothing can sour a shoot more than asking a question about something you should already know, or something that offends the artist. Do the homework :)
When working with an assistant, remember that technical knowledge can be taught, while client savvy skills and going above and beyond in terms of what is expected of them are more inherent skills. An assistant who will not offend clients, is willing to work hard and takes initiative are the most important qualifications.
As far as cameras go, equipment is so great these days, and constantly changing. Therefore i believe that it really comes down to the vision you have for your photos, rather than what camera you are using. Having said that, lenses are extremely important.
So in short, professionalism, passion and vision, from my point of view are the most important ingredients to growing a successful business as a freelance photographer. I hope this helps :)
FOCUS Mark Maryanovich
LA-based snapper Mark Maryanovich not only shot our awesome Robert DeLong cover and billboards for our last issue, but he’s an acclaimed music photographer, who has shot everyone from the likes of Elliott Smith, Henry Rollins, and Bob Rock (to name a few), shot artwork and album covers for artists on Sony, EMI and Warner Music, and been published on the pages of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and of course, ION. His unique style and strong imagery pop out of the page, and as you all know, we certainly like him! Here we showcase some of his best and favourite work from over the years.
Photography of Mark Maryanovich Arts and Culture
Photographer Mark Maryanovich has captured an impressive variety of artists including Chris Cornell, Bob Rock, Chad Kroeger, Elliot Smith and Henry Rollins. Some of his best photos appear in this article.
Mark Maryanovich's photographs have appeared on album covers and artwork for companies such as Sony, EMI and Warner Chappell Music, and he’s received two Canadian Country Music Awards for Album Design of the Year. Mark’s commercial clients include Gibson Guitars, Peavey Amplifiers and Monster Energy Drink, while his work has been published in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Modern Drummer, ION, Canadian Musician, and Muzik etc. magazines.
Recently, Mark had the honor of providing the book cover image for the legendary Randy Bachman’s autobiography Vinyl Tap Stories, released by Penguin Group Publishing. In 2011, Mark relocated to Santa Monica California where he currently resides. As an artist, Mark is pleased to have been recognized by the California art community, with his placement as a finalist in the Images from a Glass Eye International Juried Photography Show, and worthy of mention in the American Icon Art Competition in August 2013.
Currently, Mark is working on artMARKet, fine art prints available online. He has also released Life’s What You Make It, a book compilation of selected portraits he’s taken during his career as a music photographer. His passion for music photography has taken him across Canada and the United States, to locations as vast and varied as Charlottetown Prince Edward Island, Nashville Tennessee, Salt Spring Island British Columbia, Odessa Texas and throughout California.
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