Behind the Scenes: The Anatomy of a Photo Shoot

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Piper with Cate

Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson

Piper Ferguson is an LA-based photographer who photographs many musicians. I wanted to get in her head and find out how she goes about planning a shoot, using Welsh singer Cate Le Bon as an example. As of today, Cate is the most played artist on KCRW’s Eclectic24 all music stream and is playing McCabes on February 26 so enjoy some photos and some insight.

I got the call to photograph Cate LeBon for some press shots while she was in Los Angeles opening for St. Vincent at The Music Box.

I was already planning to attend the gig, as my friend Michael Eisenstein of Letters To Cleo had invited me.  I googled Cate to look at photos of what she had done in the past and then I realized I had photographed her before for Mojo at SXSW and they had used one of the shots online.  I mentioned it to her and she said it was one of her favorite photos of herself so we were off to a good start!

We didn’t have much time as the shoot was the day after the show, so we basically used our resources to pull together some ideas.

Cate was staying with fellow Welsh friend and actor Matthew Rhys from the show Brothers and Sisters.  Matthew has a horse so they had been horse back riding that morning.  Cate also has horses at home and rides regularly so I loved the idea – especially since horses are such a big part of her life and it’s not just a prop.

Matthew had to shoot that day, so before we could go to the horse ranch in Beachwood Canyon, Cate came over to my house in Echo Park where there are lots of cool places and things to shoot everywhere you look.

Echo Park is the best for exploring and finding great vibes.

Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson
Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson

We shot around my little cottage and then went to Sunset.  I had just gone to the Filter Magazine Culture Collide music festival that was here in the neighborhood and when I went in the bathroom at Taix, I instantly thought “what can I shoot here?”.

My assistant, Cate and I walked into Taix, looked down, made a bee line all the way into the bathroom, shut the door and began shooting. Before anyone noticed, we got some lovely shots in the Parisian inspired little make up table.

Cate had seen the shot of French singer Francoise Hardy with the Light Bulb on her head and her hand up, which is why she put her hand up in a lot of the shots.

Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson

This was another serendipitous experience because when I was pulling reference photos before photographing Cate, I had pulled THAT exact photo!

Cate’s music doesn’t exactly sound like Francoise Hardy, but there is a sentiment, a feeling of 60’s, European inspired female energy and spirit.

I loved working with Cate, I hope her and I get the opportunity to be creative together again soon!

— Piper Ferguson

Piper with Cate
Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson
Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson
Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson
Cate LeBon by Piper Ferguson
Piper and Cate