Know Your Scene: Derek Brad of Musician Portrait Project

Featured Image by Howard GainesPhotography, Stills by Derek Brad 

Acclaimed Philly photographer Derek Brad has a track record that would make even the most seasoned photographer envious, photographing such artists as Lady Gaga, Of Monsters of Men, and, most recently, Kendrick Lamar at the Trocadero. Last March, Brad decided to endeavor in his own personal project called the Musician Portrait Project, which is a series of moving portraits that captures musicians. ROP got to sit down with Brad and ask him about the Musician Portrait Project, his favorite artists that he has photographed, and his favorite candy.


Photo by Johnny W. Lam

Rock On Philly: For those who may not know, can you tell them a little bit about Musician Portrait Photography? 

Derek Brad: The concept of the Musician Portrait Project is to present moving portraits of various musicians. A gallery with walls of video screens featuring two minute videos on a loop.  Black and white with no sound.  [There is] also have feature a new moving portrait online, every Wednesday at

Musician Portrait Project Kristen May, Sameer Bhattacharya, Jared Hartmann, Pat Seals, James Culpepper October 2014

Musician Portrait Project, October 2014: Kristen May, Sameer Bhattacharya, Jared Hartmann, Pat Seals, James Culpepper of Flyleaf

ROP: Is there a reason behind the black and white and no sound?

DB: Yes, black and white makes for no color distractions.  The no sound goes back to the original idea of a gallery full of screens with moving portraits.  You wouldn’t want to hear a bunch of noise coming from them at once.

KateNash 1

Musician Portrait Project: Kate Nash

ROP: It says that this unique way of photographing musicians came to you because of time constraints, can you explain? 

DB: When I first started getting portrait shoots with musicians many of them were about five minutes.  Now, I have the whole process down to five minutes or less, which includes setting up and recording for two minutes.

Musician Portrait Project July 2015

Musician Portrait Project, July 2015: Neon Trees

ROP: You have photographed a range of musicians like Neon TreesSmall PoolsKate Nash,  New Politics and Flyleaf (just to name a few). Do you have a favorite artist that you have photographed? Or one that made a memorable impression? 

DB: I do not have a favorite artist but I do seem to often bring up the Mille Petrozza, thrash metal frontman of Kreator.  He brushes his teeth.

MilleDB 1

Musician Portrait Project: Mille Petrozza of Kreator

ROP: Was it always in your vision to photograph musicians?

DB: At one point in my life, I started taking photographs everyday and tried all types of subjects.  Eventually, I just gravitated towards photographing musicians more and more.

Musician Portrait Project David Boyd, Søren Hansen, Louis Vecchio November 2014

Musician Portrait Project, November 2014: David Boyd, Søren Hansen, Louis Vecchio of New Politics

ROP: What do you hope your photography provides for the artists you photograph?

DB: A different way to see musicians.  Also I know many people who follow the project that discover and go listen to musicians they have not heard before.

smallpools 4

Musician Portrait Project: Smallpools

ROP: Lastly, with Halloween just passing, favorite candy? GO.

DB: I’d have to go with M&M’s.

Check out Derek Brad’s entire gallery of artists he has photographed for his Musician Portrait Project and don’t forget to check his site every Wednesday for a new online moving portrait (this week’s is City Rain!).

What do you guys think of this photography project? Let us know in the comments after the jump!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.