The shining moment from Clay Aiken's photo session for Rolling Stone came accidentally, when photographer Matthew Rolston caught the singer looking away while he changed lenses.
Rolston told Aiken not to move and snapped a picture that not only became their favorite in the magazine, it served as inspiration for the "American Idol 2" runner-up's video for his first single, "This Is the Night." (Click for Clay's Rolling Stone cover photo.)
"He's a very soulful artist, and I think that comes from someplace within, and somehow the moment of that photograph seems to convey it," explained Rolston, who directed the video Thursday. "It just was a moment."
Rolston, whose résumé includes clips for Madonna and the Backstreet Boys, recaptured that moment by filming the video in a similar setting.
"It's a little bit like if you could be behind the scenes at one of my photo shoots," Rolston said of the video. "There's a few different scenes, different backgrounds, changes of clothes — it's very simple. First and foremost it's Clay performing, which he does very well.
"You can see a photographer silhouetted in the foreground of some scenes, and a camera and some lights, but it's not pushed very heavy," he continued. "Most of it you're within the world of whatever scene he's in."
The video, which includes scenes shot in black and white, was shot in a studio on the top floor of an old vaudeville theater in downtown Los Angeles. With his selection of backdrops and the natural lighting from floor-to-ceiling windows, Rolston created a timeless feel.
"My visuals don't illustrate the subject of the song; they are all about getting you a portrait of this new young performer," he said.
"This Is the Night," which topped the singles chart when it was released alongside Aiken's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" cover last month (see "Has America Changed Its Mind? Clay Beats Ruben On Singles Chart"), will be featured on his as-yet-untitled debut, due in September (see " 'Idol' Chatter: Ruben, Clay, Others Discuss Post-Show Plans").
Clive Davis is executive producing the project, which will feature many of the same producers and songwriters who worked on Kelly Clarkson's Thankful, including Steve Mac (Nick Carter), Cliff Magness (Avril Lavigne) and Desmond Child (Cher).
Steve Morales (Christina Aguilera) and Rick Nowels (Dido) also worked with Aiken on the album before he kicked off the Pop Tarts Presents American Idols Live tour Tuesday in St. Paul, Minnesota (see "After 'Idol,' Clay And Ruben Will Share A Stage 39 More Times"). The outing hits Pittsburgh on Tuesday.