String Cheese Incident

String Cheese Incident

Hey there ho there! How’s life? What’s new? Oh wow, really? You just met with THE Tony Little? About what?? Neat! What did you invent? Oooh…that sounds cool. What does the “Electronic Paper Time Capsule” do? Uh huh…ok…yeah. Dude, that’s a fax machine. That’s existed for a long time now and I feel like it’s a pretty dead technology. Oh no! I get it! It’s a fax machine!! Nope. Nope. Stop arguing. I can’t believe Tony Little went for this…

So, today is all about a promotional shoot I did with a pretty legendary band, String Cheese Incident. I mean, I remember hearing these guys in college. I felt so lucky to be able to work with them! I had a few loose plans for the band that I pitched, however, the day of the shoot it rained pretty ferociously, so we were thrust indoors to the incredible Hotel Boulderado. This band has been taking promotional photos for 23 years, so two things became glaringly evident: 1) make it quick 2) make it fun. And, ya know what? We did! With the help of Merne Judson III (link below), we were able to crank out some pretty cool photos in about an hour with four locations throughout the hotel. Had we had more time and a better day, I was exploring some old Kabuki Theater stage tricks and potentially looking at doing a shoot on a baseball field with all the guys in a 50’s summer vibe – ya know, white zinc nosecoat, sun reflectors under their chins, reclining lawn chairs… Oh well, next shoot!


Given the fact that we went super fast and were held up inside for the whole shoot, we had a blast and got some pretty fun images! I have to tell you…these guys were super fun to work with. You know all the energy and hilarious commentary you get when you’re either shooting or standing up in a wedding party? Like, where everyone is throwing each other under the bus and throwing out outlandish ideas and swearing a lot? Now, take out all the annoying parts of that particular situation and distill it down to only the truly funny or creative people talking, and viola! That’s what it felt like to shoot these guys. They’re super friendly, down-to-earth, hilarious, creative and professional. I love when you work with experienced folks who don’t have to put on a “fake” face for photos. They’ve been at it long enough that they can just be themselves.


On top of that, we were super lucky to be able to use the gorgeous Hotel Boulderado and I can’t thank the fine folks there enough for giving us, what seemed to be, pretty free reign. We’re so appreciative for them sharing that beautiful space with us.

If you’re a nerd (like me), after the images there’s a little diagram I made up and a brief description of the lighting that went into one of my favorite shots from the day.


We had a few little obstacles with this shoot, namely a large slanted overhang from where the stairs went above us. This was particularly difficult for glare. I wanted to fill the whole space with light but make the guys pop a bit more than the background without a giant glare on the space above them. So, I went into the ol’ archives of stuff I’ve read and remembered that Erwin Olaf prefers to always have a super diffused key light from the spot where the camera is. So, we set up our trusty strip box sideways under the camera on a small backlight stand. Then I took a couple small speedlights and feathered them off on either side with no diffusion. It was quick and dirty, but the shadows aren’t overbearing and everyone popped just enough for me! If you dig these diagrams, I like making them and I can do more in the future. Let me know!

String Cheese Incident – Website


Hotel Boulderado – Website


Merne Judson III – Website


Erwin Olaf – Interview About Lighting


Tony Little – Website




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