Posts Tagged ‘music’
Music and photography. Other than my family, these are the two biggest influences in my life. I walked in to the Who Shot Rock & Roll exhibit at the Annenberg today and felt the power and weight of those two influences on my life.
I’ve grown up with music and photography. Music more than anything helps me tell time. As a kid whose father was in the Army we moved a lot. I can’t remember 8th grade without trying to figure out where I lived. When I think of where I lived I can remember the music in my life. 8th and 9th Grade was Anchorage Alaska. I was introduced to new wave and was coming off my introduction to heavy metal. I remember being introduced to The Cure, Violent Fems, INXS, REM, and The Beastie Boys. This is also the time in my life when I picked up my first camera.
The amazing thing about the exhibit was that in a lot of cases the photos weren’t made of rock gods and superstars. They were made by kids of other kids. Friends taking photos of their friends that happened to be in a band. In most of the images in the exhibit many of those friends went on to rock & roll greatness.
Don’t take my word for it. Go see it. Now. It closes in four days.
As I looked at the photos and read stories about how the photos were made I started to reflect on my music photography. Sometimes shooting music is great. It’s exciting, it’s loud, it’s fun. Other times it’s all wrong; they handcuff us together so that it makes it hard to get original and great images.
This was shot at the Bamboozle Left Festival a couple years ago. Here’s the reality of shooting most shows; you get to shoot the first three songs and then they kick you out. So basically there are a handful of us looking up the nostrils of the artist trying to get something cool and unique.
The key to so many of the great images showcased at the exhibit is access. Either being friends with the band or the band having enough faith in your work and vision that they trust you. They need to know that you aren’t going to make them look bad. In the case of this shot of Darrin Pfeiffer, the drummer from Goldfinger, I had access. I was on the stage a few feet away. Why did I have access? I know the lead singer.
Here’s another shot I love and it was made because I had access. Ever been to the Viper Room? It’s the size of a large walk-in closet. This shot of Run Run Run was made during a private showcase the band was putting on for a record exec. That shot would have been impossible to make had their been a crowd.
So many musicians I’ve shot know a lot about marketing and they want to look a certain way in their photos. With the case of The Josephine Collective they were in town living their dream, recording an album, looking cool was the farthest thing in their head. The producer invited me to his home where they were recording. As much as a Bel Air mansion screams success it doesn’t register well with a pop-punk band from Tennessee. So while all around me is a gorgeous pool and backyard I laid down on the ground and had them huddle up. There was no request for smiles or to say cheese. They (we) were just having fun.
Most recently I was contacted by The Rossetti quartet. They are a string quartet that has played around the world. They hired me to take shots that wouldn’t look like they were a “string quartet”. I treated them as I would any other band. I wanted them to look cohesive and cool.
Music is hugely important in my life. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved music. I can remember being a kid and my dad buying records and listening with his headphones. Music gives me history. Certain bands or song evoke emotions and memories that, without the music to remind me, they would be long forgotten.
I remember living in Puerto Rico as a kid and being at a BBQ at one of my dad’s coworkers. I remember hearing and loving Planet Rock by Afrika Bambatta, that was around 1982 and I would have been nine years old. I remember fighting and trying to steal my sisters copy of Rock the Casbah. Trying to memorize the lyrics to Jam on It in the 5th grade. How old were you when you first heard and read the lyrics to Darling Nikki?
These memories are forever cemented into my psyche because of the music I associate with them. I hope my kids have the same experience. They may not get to hold and admire the cover art of a 12″ vinyl record or even read the liner notes of a CD, but if you grow up in my house, you’ll grow up listening to music. Grace is only three and a half and she can already sing the chorus to Pumped up Kicks. “Faster than my Bully….” Well, kinda.
I’m writing about music on my photography blog because this year the way I discovered and listened to music changed drastically. The iPod was one thing but this year Pandora and Spotify changed music for me. I’ve known about Pandora for a long time, but it wasn’t until I started streaming it through my phone that I found and fell in love with it’s power. Couple that with the keys to the record store that Spotify provides and I’m exposed to new artists and genres that I would have never found otherwise. Over the past six weeks I have been trying to find the perfect song to use in my son’s one-year birthday slideshow. I’m also thinking ahead towards my end of the year slideshow and I’m trying to find the song that I found 2011 that complements my photography. I’m still up in the air about the end of the year song, but in the mean time here are some artists I’ve found and come to love this year.
Ryan Adams. Back from retirement with an amazing new album. I was so motivated enough that I bought a physical CD.
Amos Lee – I found him probably through the Ryan Adams station on Pandora.
James Vincent McMorrow – thank’s Jason Bentley and Morning Becomes Eclectic
The Civil Wars – Another KCRW find
Lydia Loveless - an XM radio find – straight rocker-girl country
Citizen Cope – another Pandora find and then further explored with the help of Spotify.
I love music and in-turn love shooting bands. I don’t do it as often as I used to but last week I noticed on Army Navy’s facebook page that they were playing locally and I didn’t have anything planned for thursday night or friday morning. I contacted the band and they said the venue would most likely be pretty lax in regards to photography and that I was welcome to come by. I have shot at the Silverlake Lounge on one other occasion and I remembered it being small. I had forgotten just how small. I’ve found that the best band pictures I shoot (the ones I like the most) are the shots that have great stage lighting and the shots where I have access that photographer’s don’t usually have. I also tend to favor shots that I have a personal relationship with the band. Be it that they are friends of mine, or in the case of Army Navy a band I really enjoy.
I’ve found that the two most important items when shooting live bands are – ear plugs and fast lenses. Luckily I had some ear plugs and a F1.2 lens. With my 50mm I was shooting at ISO 2000 and 2500. I swapped out for my 70-2000 F2.8 IS and had to crank the ISO 4000 to get anything usable. In other words it was dark in their.
I also shot video during the last song of their set. The audio quality in an environment like that on my 5D is shite so i dubbed in the album track. It worked out that the band sang pretty close to the album version. So if you want to hear what I saw, check it out.
A few weeks ago I hooked up with Shayla. She’s a singer-songwriter working on updating her publicity photos to coincide with the new direction her music has taken. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with many bands or artists lately so it was a refreshing challenge.
About 5 years ago I was introduced to a music producer and shot some promo shots for one of his artists. He liked them so much he asked me back to shoot cover art for a band’s CD. It was my first attempt at shooting a CD cover and I learned an important lesson – a CD cover is square; my camera doesn’t shoot square photos. I got lucky and was able to find frames that fit the shape but the lesson I learned was invaluable.
When I talked to Shayla and listened to a sample of her new music I figured this industrial part of San Pedro would be perfect. My goal was to shoot images that will allow plenty of text while still showing a sense of the location.