Omer R. Cordell
(Seventh Frame Photography)
Interview By Lord of The Wasteland
**All images courtesy of Seventh Frame Photography except CD covers
When you pick up a CD by your favorite artist, do you ever look through the credits of who mastered the CD, where it was recorded, production credits, etc? Many people do not and next to the actual artist whose music is being played, these are the people who help bring the whole package to your CD player. One of the most important cogs in the wheel is the photographer of a CD. Sure the artist or band name is what sells the CD, but the person who makes the images that appear on the CD cover or in the booklet itself can leave an indelible mark on the sales figures. The art needs to attract attention and provide something extra to make it stand out from the tens of thousands of other releases it is in competition with for the almighty consumer dollar.
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One of these ?behind the scenes? people is Omer R. Cordell. Omer is the visionary behind Seventh Frame Photography (www.seventhframe.com) and is quickly making a name for himself in the metal world. Having first got his feet wet by photographing The Devin Townsend Band?s 2003 CD, ACCELERATED EVOLUTION, Omer?s big ticket project was this year?s ARCHETYPE release from < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />
Fortunately, Omer is a
First of all, thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for Metal Rules!
When and why did you first get involved in photography?
Ever since I remember, I?ve had some sort of fascination with the camera. I remember being completely in awe when my Dad used to take pictures of us with his old Pentax camera?the way he had to focus, set the time value and aperture?I remember it took him FOREVER to take a picture, though through my eyes it seemed like he knew what he was doing and taking his time perfecting the right shot. I can even remember the first picture I ever took with that old camera! When I turned 17, I used to borrow my Dad?s camera more often and just take pictures all the time. I didn?t really know what I was doing; he just taught me what the speed and aperture meant and how to have them working together. I always enjoyed going away and taking pictures, regardless of what they were or how they turned out. It was the experience itself that made it worthwhile for me, almost like a meditative thing. I was zoned out for that time and I was lost in my own world.
Are you able to make a living at photography?
Unfortunately I?m not doing this full time yet. I?d love to have this as my only income some day, though, it?s a very tough market to get into. I have a day job, but every other job aside from what I want to do seems trivial to me.
What equipment do you use?
All Canon. For bodies I use EOS 1N and EOS 5 and my lenses consist of a 15mm 2.8 fish eye, 50mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8 L IS. My reason for shooting Canon?none in particular. My first body was the EOS 5 and I just started shooting with it. Later on, I learned of Canon?s superiority in sharpness and Auto Focusing systems.
Do you shoot digital or film?
Film. I tend to stay away from digital, but I know its inevitability. Digital has become an almost inseparable part of photography. The advances that this medium has come to are truly amazing. But still, I don?t believe in digital because I feel it?s cheating. If you want to learn about photography, digital is not the way. There are so many aspects to photography that you can learn through an old fashioned manual camera that you can?t with digital, plus there is a huge learning curve with film and how it interprets what you wish to achieve. I can understand the convenience of digital photography, but I am not comfortable with it?. at least not yet.
Do you work from your own studio or do you only do location shoots?
I do have a small studio at home but I rarely work from there. I mostly do shoots on location or rent a space to shoot from. I prefer shooting in the studio because there I can control light and get the end result that I want. Sometimes shooting on location with available light won?t always get you what you want, though both have advantages and disadvantages.
Is any of your work for sale to fans that may wish to purchase a picture of their favorite artist?
Most of my work is for sale and is also available for licensing worldwide. I also dabble in artwork for bands?just something I started doing some time ago while playing around with Photoshop.
Are there any professional photographers/artists who inspire you or whose work has influenced what you do?
Yes and no. I?ll try to explain what I mean by that. There are a lot of great photographers and artists out there who have a unique perspective on things and impress me very much, but I don?t tend to get influenced by them because I want to create something of my own. There are enough people who try and copy other people?s work and claim it as their own. I don?t want to be one of those people. Sure, someone can look at my work and say ?Hey! This looks just like so and so?s work,? but my point is that I don?t go to the library or the bookstore and look at photography books to get inspired. I want to create something from my own mind-frame and try to produce something that is semi-original, though these days, it?s VERY hard to do. Of course when it comes to rock photography, the name Ross Halfin automatically comes to mind. He?s been doing this forever! Good solid work, lucky man! There are a lot of great photographers that do this kind of job who aren?t well recognized because this is such a hard market to make a name for yourself. I have to say, though, that if any photographer impresses me it would have to be Anton Corbijn. His work is outstanding!
What was the first shoot you did that actually earned you a pay cheque?
The Devin Townsend Band CD shoot for ACCELERATED EVOLUTION. I guess that shoot opened a lot of doors for me and gained me a lot more confidence.
Which is your most memorable shoot so far and what made it so?
For now I?d have to say the ARCHETYPE CD shoot for Fear Factory. Up until then, I felt like I was going nowhere with my work and getting this shoot opened up a lot of great opportunities for me.
Is there anything that you have been asked to shoot but will not?
Yes. I?d rather not specify but I think you can imagine (laughs)!
Is there a particular image or shoot that you are most proud of?
That?s a VERY tough question because I?m never quite satisfied with my end results. I am very picky when it comes to my work and I can truly say that, as of today, I haven?t shot a picture that I am 100% happy with. All of my friends say it?s a good thing and I agree. This at least keeps my fire burning to get the right shot!
On the flipside, is there an image or shoot that just makes you shudder whenever you think about it?
Easy?the CD shoot for DTB?s ACCELERATED EVOLUTION. It looks HORRIBLE! We were supposed to shoot in a studio but at the last minute, Devin wanted to shoot at the studio where they recorded the album. At that time I didn?t have any equipment to my name to compensate for the room I shot at, but for what it?s worth?my first CD shoot?I guess it suits the atmosphere of the record. But still, it?s not a shoot I?m proud of by far!
When you?re lying in bed at night, dreaming of one band that you would just wet yourself over getting the nod to shoot, whose name comes to mind?
RUSH! Oh god?they?ve been my favorite band since I was 9 years old. I?d actually PAY them for this opportunity!
Besides the Fear Factory and Devin Townsend Band CDs, what other bands have you shot?
I?ve shot promos / CD?s for: The Devin Townsend Band, Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, AlexisOnFire, KMFDM, Unearth, Cyanotic, Ryan Van Poederooyen, Among The Betrayed, Soulscar. Live shoots are same as above plus In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Ministry, Iced Earth, Cannibal Corpse, W.A.S.P., P.O.D?.I probably forgot some.
Are there any websites or ?zines (besides your own) where people can we see your work?
Have you ever had to deal with a ?rock star attitude? while doing a shoot with somebody?
Not so far. All the bands I?ve shot were super nice. A lot of people mistake some band or person for being a huge ?rock star? but in most cases, that?s not the case. All of us have good and bad days and one shouldn?t be interpreted by one day or event that fell victim to bad press. I?m sure that I?ll come across the ?rock star? type, but I think a lot of the bad rap that people get is from some bitter reviewer or what not having a bad experience. I say you never know until you?re there and meet the person yourself. What you might like I might not and vice versa. Good or bad is really only subject to someone?s point of view.
You seem to be in tight with both Fear Factory and Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad. How did you get involved such big names?
With Strapping, I got to meet Devin about 5 years ago through a mutual friend. I started shooting all of his local concerts and submitted them to his web site. After a while, he asked me to shoot a promo for the DTB. Shortly after that, he wanted me to shoot the CD and we established a nice friendship and working relationship. He?s a really nice chap and easy to work with?so are the other SYL and DTB guys. The Fear Factory shoot was a total fluke. I emailed
Why are you credited as ?Omer Shaked? in the liner notes of The Devin Townsend Band?s ACCELERATED EVOLUTION CD, but Omer R. Cordell everywhere else?
Shaked is my unfortunate former last name. Wouldn?t anyone in his right mind change it???
In the liner notes of Fear Factory?s ARCHETYPE CD, why do they call you ?Impson??
(Laughs) The infamous ?Impson? story! Well it was after the Fear Factory shoot. I went home and started editing the pictures. As I sent them all the samples of how the shoot went, I always used to just sign my email with my first name and throughout all our correspondence they always knew me as just Omer. When we got together again to view the pictures from the shoot,
You?re actually going on tour with the band and compiling photos for a book project, correct? Can you tell us more about this?
Yes, we?re going to release a very cool photo book about Fear Factory. There?s not a lot I can say about it because we want this to be a big thing when it comes out, but for now I?ve gathered the studio shots we took, along with a lot of live footage from the road. I joined them for a couple of dates in LA and Vegas last tour and this coming tour I?ll be on the road with them for a week or so to get some more footage to work with. I?m very excited about this project and I can?t wait for it to be released!
What are the latest shoots that you?ve had?
I shot the upcoming Strapping Young Lad CD and just finished a shoot with a
What upcoming projects do you have lined up?
I have the Fear Factory tour that I?ll be joining on Oct 26th. After that, I?ll be super busy working on the layouts of the book. It?s very demanding and takes a
Your website (www.seventhframe.com) is very striking.
Who designed it for you?
The site was designed by the genius Geoffrey Rousselot from
Do you maintain your website yourself or do you have help with it?
I update the news myself, but when it comes to my galleries, I need help! I don?t know anything about this stuff?it?s a mystery to me. I?m always looking at new ways to present my galleries?always adding stuff. Some day I?ll nail it down and have Geoff change the whole structure. I have a vision of what I want my site to look like but it will cost me too much money to make and Geoff still has to learn a lot of things to interpret what I want to do.
Can you explain the significance of the front page with the crying boy, the crow and the pictures?
Well, what is the significance of the name ?Seventh Frame??
The number seven throughout our history. Seven days a week, we?re the seventh planet (coming from the outside), the seventh seal, the seven wonders of the world?so seventh frame encapsulates something out of 7 elements of my life in one ?frame.?
The ?Artwork? section of your website is very interesting?I especially like the one with the flaming head and the old man in the sky!
What inspires you to create these images?
This section of my site is dedicated to my experimental work with Photoshop. I thought it would be a cool idea to have this available if any bands would be interested in me doing some basic artwork for them.
All of the images are inspired by music or a specific song. Music is a very big deal in my life and sometimes I see a song in a form of an image that I can?t capture with one shot so I assemble some pictures together and play around with them using some of the many Photoshop techniques. It?s another form of expression for me and I enjoy doing it.
One piece that carries a very strong message is found in the ?Miscellaneous? section and features a female model with ?War is Hell? written on her palm. What is the significance of this piece in particular?
That war, IS hell! It is a quote from William Sherman. Violence, racism, hatred?there?s so much of this in our societies and we tend to shy away from it. We listen to the news and hear about how many people died today during an explosion in the
You have participated in the Food 4 Music (www.food4music.com) project that is held in
It?s a great way to promote a great cause! My good friend Colin Gale started this a few years ago and it has grown a lot since. I?ve been helping Colin with these events for about 2 years now. It?s a lot of fun to do and we?re planning to take this across
Since you shoot primarily bands, who are your favorite artists, both metal and non-metal?
Oh man, so much music that I like! To name a few from both genres in no particular order:
Rush, The Police, Sting, Kate Bush, Allan Holdsworth, Michelle Camilo, Ray Lynch, Keb Mo, Meshuggah, Static-X, Strapping Young Lad, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Enya, Fear Factory, Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, The Cranberries, Primus?..the list goes on and on!
What can we expect from Omer R. Cordell in 2005?
The Fear Factory book and a move to
Is there anything that we didn?t cover, or do you have any parting thoughts to leave the readers of Metal Rules with?
I think you covered it all! Oh, I?m 6?1 and a size 11 shoe!
It was great talking to you, Omer. Thanks very much for your time and insightful answers.
Thanks for the interview!