Wes Borland for Total Guitar Magazine
If you are at all like me (ie grew up in the 90’s and a fan of music) you will definitely know the name Wes Borland. If for some reason you have no idea who Wes Borland is, then you need to keep reading and expand your music tastes as there is a lot of different music associated with Wes Borland that you can sink your musical teeth into. Wes Borland is most known, or at least first known, for being the guitar player in Nu Metal kings Limp Bizkit. Since Limp Bizkit, Wes has gone on to create amazing music both as a solo artist as well as with the amazing Queen Kwong.
Growing up in the 90’s, and being a guitar player myself at the time, I definitely knew who Wes Borland was. It’s safe to say that I would consider Wes an icon of my youth (though I didn’t tell him that). When I received the information on this shoot, my jaw hit the floor. I have photographed people that I admired and loved before (Trivium, Twenty One Pilots, and Slaves spring to mind), but this was the first time I was going to be photographing someone who’s music I grew up on, and who’s music directly inspired my own music. Don’t worry, I didn’t get all fan boy when I met Wes. Now if I ever get the opportunity to photograph J Mascis, that might be an issue! 😀
This was one of the first briefs I have had from Total Guitar in which there was a distinct “feeling” that they wanted from the shoot. Normally my shoots for Total Guitar are fairly open in terms of the brief. There are certain assets I need to capture, but generally how those assets are captured is left up to me completely. With this though, Total Guitar wanted something that captured “the other side of Wes”. I loved this idea and thoughts instantly started springing to mind. Wes, when he was in Limp Bizkit, was known for his guitar playing just as much as he was known for his black contact lenses and crazy face paint. Wes definitely is trying to distance himself from that image, and that definitely comes through in his amazing solo album. With this in mind, I knew exactly what I wanted the “main” images for this feature to be.
We met Wes at the hotel he was staying at in London. It was a great venue for the interview, but not so great for the photos. The hotel wasn’t very interested in allowing us to use any of the rooms or hallways for the photoshoot. Thankfully, in the downstairs part of the hotel is an independent bar/club that was more than happy to allow us to photograph in before they opened in the evening. This worked perfectly as there were plenty of black walls that would allow me to shoot my main idea, as well as some rather cool looking wooden benches that would work for the other images.
One of the awesome things about shoots like this is being able to sit in on the interview. This is awesome for a couple of reasons. One, it’s just awesome! Two, it really gives me an insight into whoever it is that I am photographing, and most importantly what their current mindset and personality is like. It’s quite hard on editorial shoots sometimes to build that rapport and insight as you are often very restricted on time, but this is something I have gotten quite good at over the years. But, being able to sit in on the interview instantly gives me a fantastic and current insight, and that makes creating compelling images with connection that much easier.
Having gotten this insight into Wes and his solo album, I knew the “look” that I wanted for my main image. Wes used to be known as the crazy, slightly scary guy in Limp Bizkit. His solo music is a huge departure from this. It shows a much more somber Wes and this was exactly what I wanted to capture. The transition from scary, probably mis-understood, Wes into the new somber and laid back Wes. This wasn’t something I wanted to portray just in my main image, but something I wanted to portray across all the images for the feature. Wes loved every minute of it as he wasn’t being asked to do cliche things repeatedly and was being asked to just be himself…and I think that comes through in the images.
The Tear Sheets:
Below are the tear sheets from the feature in Total Guitar. This gives you a good idea of the “other side of Wes” idea for the opening portrait and then the more laid back, somber Wes that I wanted to capture.
There were so many great images in this shoot, that it was quite hard for me to narrow it down to only a couple. Below I have posted the original images that appeared in the feature in Total Guitar, as well as a couple of my favourite that didn’t get printed.
As always, I try to take a selfie with everyone that I photograph. Wes Borland was one that I made sure that I got and it’s quite a nice photo of the both of us…except for the awful red lights! 😀
This shoot was one of the first shoots that I did with my new Fuji X-T2. If you haven’t read my review on this amazing camera, have a read here. I used both my 16-55 2.8 and 50-140 2.8 lenses for this shoot. The 16-55 on the wider shots on the bench, and the 50-140 on the headshots.
I used two Elinchrom Quadra Rangers on the headshots. The key light being shot through a large octobox and the rim light through a small octobox. The shots on the bench were lit with a single Quadra shot through the large octobox.