Portrait inspired by John Cougar album cover


The thing about inspiration, it’s anywhere and everywhere. If you have trouble easily finding one then I’ll just assume you’re not looking at all.

Take for instance, this John Cougar album that I saw on the floor of a friend’s music studio when I came over to jam. I thought to myself, this guy resembled my guitarist friend James (aka Jamie). I immediately felt the desire to do a headshot of him using this look.

John Cougar Album Cover

John Cougar Album Cover

However, I kept that thought to myself for a while letting it gnaw on my brain until I couldn’t bear it anymore. I eventually had to exorcise it from my head and the only way I could do that was to actually do the shoot. A couple of months after that first encounter with the album cover I finally messaged Jamie to ask if he would be interested in a photo session. I was worried that, like most guys, he wasn’t the type who likes to be photographed. I was so relieved when he said yes.

On shoot day, we didn’t have much room. I used the white side of a 3.33′ x 5′ foldable reflector as a background, clipped on two light stands and we set it up by his front door, a 2’x2′ softbox with grid, about 16 inches off to his right and that was it. We were set. Posing was simple but I did ask Jamie to do a “squinch” for me.

Here’s the shot I selected for processing.

James Original Photo

I tried to get the black and white treatment as close to the album cover but I didn’t want it to match exactly. I was more after the look and feel. Once I was satisfied with the treatment, I added a little bit of noise and a light texture.

Here’s the final product.

Portrait inspired by John Cougar album cover

Portrait inspired by John Cougar album cover.

Comparison of John Cougar album cover and James' final retouched portrait.

Comparison of John Cougar album cover and James’ final retouched portrait.

Big thanks to my friend Jamie for letting me do this session… and to his wife Rachel, who cooked up delicious “pansit” which I gobbled up after the shoot.


Mario Gozum is a portrait photographer and owner of PointShoot Photgraphy, based in Kent Island, MD, serving the custom portrait and general photography needs of residents in the following counties and cities:

QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY│Centreville, Chester, Stevensville, Grasonville, Queenstown
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY│Annapolis, Arnold, Crofton, Davidsonville, Fort Meade, Galesville, Glen Burnie, Harwood, Lake Shore, Lothian, Mayo, Millersville, Odenton, Pasadena, Riva, Severn, Severna Park, South Gate, South River
PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY│Bowie, Kettering, Lake Arbor, Mitchellville,Upper Marlboro
CALVERT COUNTY│Chesapeake Beach, Dunkirk, Owings
CAROLINE COUNTY│Odenton, Ridgely


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