Q&A With Renowned Photographer Mark Maryanovich

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Music Box Magazine

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, Muzik etc. and Canadian Musician 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’sWhat 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.

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 :)