music cd packaging


That’s what I am when I am asked to help fellow artists, in this case musicians, to photograph and create images and packaging to help them sell their CD.

Eric Miller and Ralf Illenberger are releasing a new music project on March 22nd at Relics Restaurant in Sedona and asked me to come by and make a photo showing them in their creation space. Of course, I asked what vision was in their mind and I headed for the shoot with all sorts of ideas on how I was going to light the scene. And then found them in this ‘closet-like’ space and had to start from scratch on what I was going to do. First we had to revisit the vision. Recreate working the feeling of working late into the night…  Possible moods to depict? Serious, fun, thoughtful, etc…

Small room. Large window. First task – make the sun go away by blocking the light from the window. 2nd task – find a way to light the scene. Used the wall to bounce a large strobe because there was no room for light modifiers. Note that the walls are painted reflective gold and deal with the color change that would occur. Add a small LED light from camera left to fill shadows and add detail. Find point of view. Choose a viewpoint outside the door looking in to give the viewer a sense of peeking in at these guys at work. Almost voyeuristic.

Process image for the mood I was looking. Change mind as experimentation led to processing a warmer gold tone image taking advantage of the golden walls. Sharp. But layers of soft at the same time. A little painterly kind of fantasy look.

To the design. Choose one working photo for the cover and add several additional photos to help tell the different moods of the story. Choose fonts. Design.

Show initial layout. Get feedback and more information. Refine layout. Retouch.


Move graphics and refine to create CD information. Send for final review of layout, spelling clearance and last minute tweaks.

Convert files for the printer. (repeat a couple times as we found a couple small errors and additions)

And here it is.

heart tree CD artwork

Heart Tree CD Jacket for Ralf and Eric

The capture was with the Lumix GH4 and the 12-35mm f2.8 Vario Lens. I ended up using just the 250 watt modeling light on the Paul C Buff White Lightning X-3200 light plus a little kicker fill from the Fiilex Brick LED light This is a pretty handy light to have in your quiver. Color balance and brightness is adjustable and the light is quite soft. Give you a nice WYSIWYG and doubles as a video light.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

market street bridge chattanooga tn


Makes you stronger.

Exercise makes you better.

Exercise doesn’t have to physical to be helpful to you.

As part of a workshop I conducted for the Photographic Society in Chattanooga, Tennessee we all went down to the aquarium and waterfront area downtown to begin the day. I shared ideas I have about gathering textures for the ‘Photo-Synthsis’ technique I teach. The exercise was to gather textures and subject matter to work with later in the day. There was one mandatory subject, the Market Street Bridge. After heading to our computers we all were tasked with creating an image of the bridge. It proves once again that you can give multiple photographers the same subject to work with and come out with a variety of finished images. Here’s a few the class shared with me.

mickey rountree market street bridge photo

This was by Mickey Rountree. If you would like to see more of Mickey’s work which contains, as he says, lots of HDR and pin up art. (I saw some of Mickey’s work and it’s definitely worth a look. Some very stylized interesting techniques) Go here. © 2015 Mickey Rountree

“Bob, I thoroughly enjoyed both days (of instruction) and have enough new ideas that it will take weeks to play around with and learn the techniques well. You are a great teacher; knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and yet easy going and approachable. Hope you enjoyed your time in Chattanooga.” Mickey

Myra Reneau market street bridge photo

This one is by Myra Reneau. © 2015 Myra Reneau

“Thanks Bob for a great workshop both days this weekend.  I especially liked today.  Thanks for your help in working on my selections (as well as well as everything else). Anyway, safe travels!  I am looking forward to learning more. Thanks again,” Myra Reneau


By Rosemary Jardine. In addition to using the textures and techniques we talked about in the class I enjoyed Rosemary’s
composition and framing of the secondary bridge. © 2015 Rosemary Jardine

“Thanks for the compliment using my work on your blog! I shared the link on my facebook page. Here is my finished project from the workshop yesterday. I finished this up with a layer that I painted some highlights on the water canons as well as a warming mask. Thank you once again for coming to our area and sharing your knowledge with us. most of my current skill came from the internet, tutorials and so forth. It was a blessing to have the personal training. You have given me the desire and skills needed to proceed forward with my passion for fine art photography. I can hope to one day produce they quality of work you, yourself are doing. That is if I have enough years left in my life, although I do consider myself a fast learner. I also want to let you know your slide show is perfect, the music suits it so well!”    Sincerely,  Rosemary Jardine

bob coates photography market street bridge art image

© 2015 Bob Coates

I used the Lumix FZ 1000 to have a complete zoom range to vary my captures. Able to go wide for scenes and also able to get close-ups of various textures. A handy camera to work with indeed! Here is my Market Street Bridge rendition…

Four photographers. Four images with a totally different feel. Have I told you lately that I love photography!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

photo client success

Received a wonderful email today! Thought I’d share with you.

Hi Bob:

Just a quick note to let you know that Smokin’ Blues won Best Acoustic Blues Album 2014 at the BBMAs (Blues Blast magazine Awards) last week. I went to the ceremonies in Illinois and it was amazing. I played and got to meet a bunch of heavy people…

The mag is going to run a feature story on me and Smokin’ Blues – You can see it on line and I think it comes out this Thursday. If not, the following Thursday. Your art work is getting some major coverage – their website gets over 2,000,000 hits a month with subscriptions in the USA and over 90 countries.

Thank you so much for all of your support Bob. Best to Holly and also the crew…


Mark T. Small  –  voted Best Acoustic Blues Album 2014 – Blues Blast Magazine (critics choice & peoples choice)
Solo Delta & Chicago Style Blues
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”    – Charles Swindoll

Here’s the reason Mark sent the email. I named the album, designed his CD cover and marketing materials for Smokin’ Blues. So excited for Mark. He works so hard at his craft and it’s great to see him rewarded!

mark t small smokin blues cd cover image

Smokin’ Blues CD album cover for Mark T Small buy the album here I think you’ll like it!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

cruise art

As usual I am chasing birds with my camera… Adding a twist I turn the pelican, yes these images are based on a pelican. I call these mandalas…

pelican fine artPelican Mandala fine art image by yours truly, Bob Coates Photography fine art mandala pelicanPelican Mandala fine art image

Pelican Mandala fine art imagePelican Mandala fine art image variation.

Hard to post from the ship. More images upon my return.

Yours in Photography,       Bob


polo revisited

“Do you mind if I share an idea?” said my wife. “Oh, Oh.” thought I. This means she doesn’t like what I’m working on and wants to make a suggestion… I’m not always overly receptive. But, I know she often has great ideas.

You may remember a post I was so proud of a few days ago with my original idea of illustrating a polo player striking a ball.

I had been working on and image and got stuck in the proverbial rut. She being outside could see it and was willing to deal with my stupid ego to help get me out of a bad place.

So I replied, “OK what is it?” She tiptoed around a bit and shared, “You know if instead of the row of horses you should try just one alone and bigger.” I thought about it and agreed although I was still married to the original idea I had. Five minutes later, “Can I make one more suggestion…??” “Absolutely.” I replied. “You ought to take two riders fighting for the ball and make that the subject instead of just one horse.”

“OK” I replied. Then I perused the polo images and found this…

sarasota polo image lakewood, floridaOriginal capture of polo players chasing down the ball.

graphic art polo image Here is the resulting image after applying Holly’s input. (Ain’t she great??)

I’ll leave it for you to decide… Which image is more powerful? The one above? Or, the one I was stuck on before?? Another set of eyes can help point you in the right direction. I’m fond of saying some of my best ideas come from other people…. Which means you need to be willing to listen to critique and act on it to become a better image maker.

This image was captured with the Panasonic Lumix GH3 with the f4.0-5.6 100-300mm lens at 1/640th sec f5.6 ISO 200 at 300mm (600mm at 35mm equivalent)