When given the concept ‘ZION’ I was kind of perplexed. The first mention of ‘ZION’ in the Bible is referencing Jerusalem (2 Sam 5:7). I honestly believed that somehow I needed to show Jerusalem in a cool way that could be a UNITED album cover.
Growing up, I considered ZION to be another name for heaven but after some research, I found ZION can be interpreted in a few ways. In a nutshell ZION underwent a distinct progression in its usage throughout the Bible. Starting as Jerusalem, then the people of God, the spiritual kingdom, the church of God and finally the Heavenly Jerusalem. One thing I got from Joel's thought was, “God’s people bringing heaven down to earth as we head to our heavenly ZION”. This made me think I should somehow represent a journey.
A couple of years ago I saw some cool photography with mirrors in random locations, I always thought one day I would like to experiment with mirrors. One afternoon, I noticed how cool it looked at dusk whist driving towards the darkest part of the sky; my side mirror reflected the brightness of the sun.
This gave me the thought of a massive UNITED logo made out of mirrors, in which we could shoot at dusk with the sun in front and darkness reflected behind. In a way it could represent we are heading to the light of Zion with the past darkness behind us.
After a few knock backs from previous concepts, we literally had 4 days left to produce this concept as a cover. Literally in a 24hours (with much help from my team) I had begged our awesome signage shop to make me mirrored signs, booked a photographer, convinced my mate Nick to come help and jumped on the next flight to the south island of New Zealand. Why New Zealand? Well I knew out of all the places in the world, that it would look heavenly, it would be somewhere between Christchurch and Queenstown.
So with that, we flew into Christchurch, jumped in a car and just started driving towards Queenstown (with none of us being there before haha). We literally stopped every few hours because the landscape was beyond stunning and there were so many places to shoot.
Anyone who thinks this or any photo-shoot is glamorous, know this; I had 8 hours sleep and drove a total of 1100kms in 2days and woke daily before the dawn in order to be ready for the right light. I remember hammering poles in the ground at 4am in minus 5 degrees celcius with snot pouring out of my nose just for a shot, so just remember, photo-shoots are not as fancy as they seem.
The actual spot we used for the cover was somewhere near here http://m.google.com/u/m/wj0TTI. We turned around a corner and just saw this spot where the clouds were opening up and it was so epic. The truth is, the clouds were sitting on the mountains so perfectly it was almost like God hand painted the backdrop and welcomed us into His shot.
Here is the first cover shot before we graded it.
Once we had graded the shot (the cover you see today), I wanted to make sure everyone knew we actually shot the mirrors on location and weren’t just clever at Photoshop. So for the back cover we shot behind the sign to show how the mirrors were standing and to make the artwork real. It’s really important to me to show the realness of the artwork.
It was once again a crazy whirlwind experience where God clearly showed off and we just happened to be lucky enough to capture it.
PS - In Australia we released a hard copy limited edition with a 3D lenticular sleeve. This was the final piece to the art as it was the closest way to show the magic God painted that day without actually being there. If you want one click here or download the regular album art from iTunes.
To see more photos from the shoot check them out on my instagram: @argaet
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