Posted on August 17, 2012 11:12 pm Categorised in:

Back in February I was introduced to Barrett, a local Houston rapper who had been making a name for himself with several successful mixtapes. He was gearing up for the release of his full-length LP Perseverance and wanted to get some photos done for the CD cover and layout. The album features songs with local artists such as Lil’ Flip, Magno, Sammy Veal, et al so needless to say I was excited to work on the project.

I work with a lot of artists and rappers and one thing I like to do is meet with them prior to the actual shoot and do some additional research on my end, including checking out their music, looking at their previous photos, and what they have done in the past. After meeting Barrett for the first time, it was clear that he definitely knew what he wanted and wanted to do what it took to get there. Unlike a lot of local rap artists, Barrett received formal training in the music business from Full Sail University after serving in the US Marine Corps in Iraq, but don’t let that fool you, he still has a genuine and fresh street flavor and the chops to back it up.

We decided to start with a studio session to get some basic and clean studio lit images that we could build the layout around. I really liked his look from the start. He is very tall, strong facial structure and muscular. We ended up using the beautiful live recording room at Big Door studios to set up in. I quickly ran through several lighting setups. I usually set up several lights and then turn off certain lights and reposition throughout the shoot to give the client a variety of looks. The image above is one of my favorites of the studio session and coincidentally one of the most simple setups. Its all about his stare.

Since the live room at Big Door has beautiful wood flooring as well as soothing turquoise walls, I decided to loose the backdrop and shoot a bit wider, incorporating some simple props. The diptych below showcases the final edited album cover on the left and the original image on the right. The black and white edit was done recently, but you get the idea.


The final edited album cover and the original cover image in black and white.

About a week later we headed out for the location portion of the shoot. We really didn’t have a predestined location in mind, instead we drove around and made it work. Armed with a Profoto 7B, a few heads and a variety of modifiers, we were ready for some urban explore-shooting.

I spotted an abandoned pathway that looked like it lead to an decommissioned factory of some sort that we decided to venture down. The image below is what the pathway looked like from the street. After passing a lot of sketchy objects we finally came across a rusted and decrepit metal building that looked like it was a fabrication yard or industrial shop. It was clearly abandoned, clearly used for graffiti and for the homeless although we did not come across another soul save for a pack of rabid dogs. We shot several different locations around the shop and left without issue. We photographed at several other locations including some overpasses with good views of Houston’s skyline, but I ultimately focused on Barrett and made images that showcased HIM. Friend and frequent collaborator, Anthony Oyedeji of Full Fledge Entertainment and I were (as usual) on the same page. There are too many hip-hop & rap albums that STILL focus on being flashy and end up being way too busy to get the point across. Anthony and I both wanted to showcase Barrett as an artist; with clean, strong imagery and simple design.

After the shoots, the images were well received by Barrett and Anthony and I had somewhat forgotten about the album until a few weeks ago when I saw that Barrett had released the album and was having a release party. I made it a point to meet up with him and purchase a few copies for the cause. I had seen the cover design online, but had not seen the entire layout and booklet yet. I was blown away. Anthony outdid himself yet again with the design. The CD version of the album featured a double disk tray with a regular version of the music plus a chopped and screwed version (duh, this IS Houston) as well as a tri fold booklet with images on both sides. In total 8 images were used, 1 full bleed image per panel with the design being super minimal and complimentary to the photos.


The final layout of the album with images by Todd Spoth and design by Anthony Oyedeji.

It’s one thing to be happy with the edited images from a shoot, but it makes it THAT much more special when the design of the finished product makes the images sing. This is probably one of my favorite “final products” of late and I am proud to have worked on it with Barrett and Anthony. I can’t wait to work with them both again soon.


Looks even better in person. Look Mom, I even got mentioned in the “Thank You” section!

Shout out to Mike BBQ of Big Door Studios for letting us use his beautiful live room to shoot in. If you are a musician and need to lay down some tracks, look him up!

If you are in need of videos, graphics, design, or a good time, hit up Anthony Oyedeji at (Be sure and tell him that Todd Spoth sent ya.)

Meanwhile check out the several more of the selects from both shoots in the slide show below as well as one of Barrett’s music videos directed by Anthony. If you dig the jams, click HERE to purchase Perseverance on iTunes.

Please let me know what you think, and if you dig the photos, please share this with a friend or RT on Twitter @toddspoth!