Making Nightmare After Christmas Image

Yo! More photo nerd stuff:) Here is what went into making the below image:

Band_Miracle Poster_IG

Pretty stoked on this photo. I made this for the NIGHTMARE AFTER CHRISTMAS admat / flyer for an upcoming concert. My band, Story of theYear, typically does an annual blowout hometown show at the Pageant in St Louis, MO, and I don’t think I have ever been quite as excited for a hometown show as I am this year. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but mainly because of the way we’ve branded & and are continuing to build this event. In a nutshell, and without giving too many details, (Duh! The show hasn’t happened yet!) we’re tying in aspects of our latest record, WOLVES, and our yet to be released music video for “Miracle” into this one show. From the merch to the visuals, music and marketing, to the Miracle video to this concert, it’s all going to connect!

Here are some behind the scenes shots I took of us building the set, which I incorporated into the image. Some are iPhone, some art fancy pants camera.

Below: Started the day out in a sweaty U-Haul truck with my buddy, video director Jordan Phoenix, picking up these crazy old vintage speakers. Goal was to build a Mad Max inspired wall of speakers.


Below: On set, assembling the Mad Max Wall of Doom!


Below: Adding junk. Goal was to build a gross, dingy lair. For the live performance of the Miracle video, we are essentially the evil / dark versions of ourselves; a metaphor & duality built upon the concept of the Wolves record. (I wonder who will overcome?!!?) This is where we hang out. Like the Lost Boys.



Below: Directors Jordan Phoenix & Ben Vogelsang along with the insanely handy and talented Tony Rocca & father setting up a big ass light that was gelled blue to mimic moonlight spilling across the scene:



Below: The finished Set! Our evil lair.



Below: Final touches to the set. Tony adding fire into the barrels:



That covers the set. Below: Making wardrobe for evil me. So much Mad Max inspiration in this video!


Below: I set up a studio on location for the individual portraits. If you look at my laptop screen you can see the test shots I was doing on myself to dial in the lighting. I’m usually setting this stuff up alone and have since become a master at the 10 second timer. For something movie poster / commercial looking like this, I feel it’s necessary to shoot the subjects separately as opposed to one group shot. I find it’s the only way to 100% control the light and shadows on each individual. The post-compositing work is time consuming as fuck, but the payoff is worth it.

Key Light: 60″ Octobox gelled Blue
Fill Light: 48″ Octobox gelled red
Hair Light: Gridded Beauty dish gelled red to mimic light from evil red sky (to be added in composite)


Below: Quick video of me shooting the portraits.

Below: Here are the portraits, raw, straight out of the camera.



Below: Building the composite. I usually have to listen to podcasts while I do this because it’s kinda mindless work, esp cutting around hair. This can take many hours. All band members consolidated:


Below: While shooting the band, I also threw on the Wolf outfits from the “BANG BANG” video and took portraits. Wolves added to composite:ComP_2

Below: Painting in shadows on the dudes. This is crucial to selling the idea that we are all standing next to each other. I generally just paint in shadows wherever my eyes tell me: for instance, look at Adam’s (2nd from left) shoulder in the above image, and then look at it in the below image. That shadow really sells the idea that he standing behind me (first from left) and I am blocking some light from landing on his right shoulder.ComP_3

Below: Adding our lair from the performance segment of the “Miracle” video.

Below: Adding red sky. (That’s why I gelled our hair red: to mimic that red sky spilling evil red light onto us). I love the light bars we incorporated into the set design, so i expanded on those w photoshop magic.


Below: Adding additional fog. The fog helps tie everything together and hides some of the tedious composite work, esp around Wolf hair and where we merge with performance set. Can’t have a movie poster inspired by 80’s horror-pop-adventure culture and not have fog!


Below: Final Image. Added some spooky dust stuff, glowing wolf eyes, brightened our eyes a tad and minor skin re-touching. Lastly, some subtle high pass filter & sharpening, de-saturation, and selective color adjustment.

Band_Miracle Poster_IG

NBC_Pageant Admat_IG Portrait_1

It was crazy hard not to keep adding stuff to this poster, esp since we had two other video shoot days and I took some ridiculously rad images. But, I figured since there would be text / show information all over this image, mainly at the bottom, it would have gotten too busy. I’m probably wrong, but oh well. Maybe one day I’ll add all of it and make this super over-the-top.


Portraits shot on:
Cam: Canon 5d Mark IV
Lens: Canon 24-70mm @ 70mm
Light: Paul C Buff Einstein’s & Alien Bee’s because I’m too poor for ProFoto.


Ryan Phillips is a freelance photographer based out of St Louis, MO, and a founding member of the internationally known rock band Story of the Year. 

You can follow him on Instagram @Ryan_T_Phillips and view his photography portfolio at

ME_Wordpress sig pic









3 thoughts on “Making Nightmare After Christmas Image

  1. This is a fantastic image! I love seeing the behind the scenes stuff. I frequently wind up making pictures like this for school, and it’s cool to see someone else’s process for shooting and assembling a composite image like this. Can’t wait to see the show!


  2. This is so amazing! You are such an inspiration for me as a photographer. I love reading about your capturing and editing process for these amazing works of art. In my art class we have to give a presentation on our favorite artist and I chose to do mine on you and your photography. I can’t wait to show my classmates your work!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s