Pierre-Laurent Aimard

With the highly respected Aldeburgh Festival entering its 67th year on June 13th, I received a timely opportunity to photograph the festival's Artistic Director and champion of contemporary music, the pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard for the Financial Times in London recently. 

Working again with FT picture editor Hilary Kirby, I met with Pierre-Laurent at The Delaunay restaurant straight from his early morning flight from the French Alps (having spent the weekend re-charging with fresh mountain air). Luckily, Pierre-Laurent was completely receptive to my request to don his leather jacket over a dark roll neck (instead of an alternative blue casual shirt) as I wanted to subtly exaggerate his French / continental vibe. Removing his glasses and some room re-arrangement completed the frame's details. 

The private dining room itself was tiny and had highly reflective brown lacquered wooden panels which cast an odd orange hue over everything. I set up one Profoto D4 with a 10º grid to a) ensure the light fell onto Pierre-Laurent's face and torso with no other light spill and b) cut through that hue. I positioned the light as high as I could and directly behind my camera's position - this ensured all shadows would be hidden from the lens' view.

Metering to ensure that the rear window's natural light would throw a 'rim light' around his leather jacket (just enough to lift him from the dark wall behind) along with some subtle fill reflection off the bright white table cloth and the frame was ready to roll. Cue different facial expressions and arm positions for variety. Once the 'lit' frames were complete, we changed to shooting a few simple 3/4 length shots with natural window light only - always a nice to offer alternative views of the same subject and location :-)

You can read the FT Arts writer, Laura Battle's article about Pierre-Laurent's relationship with the Aldeburgh Festival here or click either of the published screengrabs below. 

Thank you Ginny Macbeth & Philipp Carl at Macbeth Media Relations and the staff at The Delaunay for their assistance.