Better orchestra photos

So many thanks to people who commented on my last post! I complained about boring photos of orchestras in that post, and several people offered links to better ones.

What I’m going to do now is pass on those links, along with some photos, and ask what people think. Are these photos improvements? How, why? Or how could they be better? I’ll save any thoughts I might have for later. Right now, I want your opinion!

I’ll do this in two or three posts. Here’s a start:

Robbie Ellis mentioned an orchestra he’s been involved with, as composer and broadcaster — the New Zealand Symphony:

For its last two seasons [Robbie wrote], the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has let a design agency go nuts and made their programmes into beautiful art works. The agency comes up with high thematic concepts, photographs the orchestra players in studio (costumes, make-up, props, the works), then puts in hundreds and hundreds of hours in Photoshop.

Here’s some of the art from the latest season launch, along with a 5-minute behind-the-scenes video:

I never thought that the Elgar Cello Concerto could be marketed interestingly, but they dressed ther principal cellist in a WWI lance corporal’s uniform amid the wreckage of war. I found it compelling.

There’s a lot more, I could add. Some cinematic sea battles

and this photo of a violinist:

And Andy wrote:

I really like what my hometown orchestra (Louisville Orchestra) did for photos. They took these quirky pics of their musicians at all these local landmarks and cultural centers unique to Louisville. To me they conveyed a fun sense of community (opposite of stodgy stage shots). And the photos are high-end – I’m guessing an ad agency or pro photographer took them.

Here’s one:

More here. The photos are at the bottom of the home page. You’ll see a different one each time you go there.


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  1. says

    This is totally inconsequential, but I realise now I got my military insignia wrong. 1 stripe = lance corporal, 2 stripes = corporal. My most fulsome apologies, “Cpl” Andrew Joyce (NZSO Principal Cello).

  2. says

    You know, having browsed through all the comments about how different orchestras have been approaching this question (including my local one, the CBSO, who have focused in on individual players a lot in their publicity over the past few years), I’m beginning to wonder if the problem you had with all the dull images was partly a function of the search strategy. The more generic the search terms in google images, the more stereotyped the results tend to be – you get the prototypical rather than the cutting edge.

    I tried a search for ‘quirky orchestra’ to test this hypothesis, and the violinist pic you show came up as the 3rd result.

    Of course, one hopes that the eventual result of these photographic endeavours would be to shift the prototypical definition of what constitutes the image of an orchestra, but that’s kind of tricky if people are, in the meantime, labelling the interesting stuff as ‘not your typical orchestra…’.

    • says

      Liz, I’ve been looking at photos of orchestras and orchestra musicians for years, on the web and elsewhere. The ones I found in my search were typical of what I’ve always seen. I’d think that by searching for “quirky orchestra,” you’re loading the dice. Calibrating your search to find unusual images. If I search simply for “orchestra,” I’m going to find the kind of photos most commonly out there, won’t I?

      It’s perfectly reasonable to label the interesting stuff as “not your typical orchestra.” Because it isn’t! Are we supposed to decide that the atypical photos are the norm?

      The real control here is to troll orchestra websites, and walk by concert halls to look at the posters. I do the latter regularly when I walk past Lincoln Center in NYC. The photos I found in my search are very much the norm. Exactly what I’ve found on websites, and prominently displayed at both Lincol Center and Carnegie Hall. Not to mention at other concert halls I’ve visited.

  3. says

    I have the perfect caption for this photo of the violinist in full concert dress apparently serenading no one in particular, ” I studied with Heifetz, and I still have to play these park gigs! “.