Creative Director: Kevin de Miranda
Photographer: Cade Martin
Heidi: Did Derek share any reflections about his injury?
Cade: We did not talk about the injury itself but we talked about his gravitating towards a piano after the injury. Derek dove into the shallow end of a pool at a party. After being diagnosed with a severe concussion and resting for 5 days, he woke up with an unquenchable urge to play the piano. He doesn’t even read music, but the most complex and intricate works – spanning all genres – now flow from his fingertips. In some ways, the injury itself is just a moment that marks a before and after and so much focus is on how his life has changed.
Tell us about the concept behind this shoot.
It was an honor to be trusted with this story and I was super excited when I heard about the opportunity. Kevin de Miranda, Creative Director at Pace Communications, came to me with the conceptual idea of Derek playing the piano at the bottom of a pool, it was perfect…then I just had to figure out how to pull it off. At the time, I had only photographed one underwater image before – but I loved the idea of creating something ethereal and beautiful. It was a bit of challenge logistically as well as technically but Derek was amazing throughout – as generous with his time and energy as he is with his story and his music. He was up for anything and ready for the underwater adventure.
Did Derek have any hesitation about getting into the pool since a pool where his injury happened?
Not at all, Derek was amazing from our first call and was completely game for anything and going anywhere.
Did you photograph the piano in a pool or was this done in post?
I put a piano in a pool at Matt Hyland’s 4th of July party in 11th grade and vowed that I wouldn’t do that again. Joking.We created the piano and the bench with CGI in post-production.
What were the technical challenges of this shoot?
The biggest challenge was the location honestly. We found a great outdoor pool in the Ft. Lauderdale area. We arrived and it had rained the day before so the pool water was very murky. We ultimately embraced the look and plowed ahead. I love the otherworldly effect you get with how an image captures underwater, but other than that, it is surprisingly similar to any other project as far as focusing on capturing what is needed.
Did he play the piano for you on set?
The piano was created in post-production so there was no piano there but he was always diddling with his fingers as if we was playing an air-piano.
How did this shoot inspire you as a photographer?
It would be hard not to be inspired, as a person, regardless of profession. The idea that there are gifts within even our hardest days is one that we can all learn from. As a photographer I’m inspired by characters and their stories, and by the adventure afforded to me by seeking that out. Derek’s story is utterly unique and almost unbelievable, but he is so genuine and open and accessible, I thought that was such a cool juxtaposition to capture. It’s what I enjoy most about what I do. I don’t know if I’m interested in the camera as much as the adventure, but the camera has been my trusty vehicle and we’ve developed a pretty good relationship. A story like Derek’s reminds me of the surprises and gifts I find on the other side of the lens.