Twenty Bands; Part I (The Brixton Riot)

My wife has put it in my head that I should get to work on publishing a book. After numerous conversations and shared ideas. We decided it to play it safe by starting with what I know and do best, that being music photography. Noting my special gift in lacking focus and working on numerous projects at the same time. She gave me the simplified task of choosing twenty images from the last four years of shooting live music and occasionally having them in the studio. Simple enough right? Well, in the two weeks that have followed I’ve set two images aside. Slow? Yes, very. However, I’m going on a number of factors when deciding. One factor being the subjects reaction and appreciation of the image.

The image below was taken of The Brixton Riot’s Jerry Lardieri at Maxwell’s during a particularly rewarding benefit show. Since that show I’ve become a big fan of the band as well as a friend of Jerry’s. I hope to finish this “Twenty Bands” project before long. As I continue picking the next nineteen. I hope to share my choices as well as the stories behind them. Feel free to share your feelings on my choices as well as the bands and artists featured. Here we go.

The Brixton Riot

The Brixton Riot

Concert Lighting, Flash and Lenses.

Canon 50mm 1.4 (w/o flash)

Though I would love to shoot all my concert photos without the distraction of flash the lens I normally use (Canon 15mm Wide USM) simply does not give me the speed I need to get the sharpness a lot of my work requires. A couple of years back I did a little research and found that Canons 50mm 1.4 had the speed I needed to get the job done. However, the fact that the bulk of my concert shots are taken in small to medium venues made for a lot of really tight shots. In bars and taverns such as Maxwells those tight crops were more like head shots.

Canon 50mm 1.4 (w/o flash)

So over the past weeks I did my share of tests with both the Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Canon 15mm Wide Angle USM. Shooting on Manual Mode and changing the settings  to adjust to the light I was able to produce some interesting results. While using the wide angle approach I was able to get right in the eye of the storm and get some interesting and artistic results. Though most were blurred and disposable,  I did find some keepers amongst the ruins. The next night I played around with the 50mm 1.4 and though I was able to get crisp image after crisp image, the distance from which I shot made me feel more like a bystander. There was really no comparing as far as I was concerned.  Although shooting without flash adds a sense of intimacy and storytelling to my images. I felt the wide angle clearly gave me a the exaggerated vibe I want in my work. It gave me a sense that I was right in the middle of the action as opposed to the bystander element that the former produced. I’d love to hear from other concert photographers about their experiences and approach. I’m always looking to experiment and try different things as I move towards creating my own style. I look forward to the challenge.

Canon 15mm wide angle (w/o flash)

On the Way Home

After a long day of good food and gallery hopping in Chinatown, SOHO and The Lower East Side we began to head West on Houston  to catch the Path Train back to Hoboken. Stopping here and there to check out some of the artisans that sell their gear in front of that church I came upon one particularly interesting table. The man and his wife were selling these intriguing artifacts they cleverly restored and made into jewelry. As I listened to the man explain the background and process to an interested party I started to set up my camera to sneak a shot of this very interesting looking gentleman. I could have pulled it off without him noticing but would I get a really honest telling shot? I got over my shyness and began an interesting conversation with Scott. I then asked him nicely if I could take a picture of him. He obliged and I left with both a story and a picture. You can check out some of Scott’s work at www.newyorkartifactart.com I’m sure you’ll be impressed.

The Pictures I’ve Always Wanted to Take at Shows.

As much as I’ve always loved concert photography and capturing bands as they poured every ounce of energy into each song. It was always the before and after that I wost most enamored with. As a kid I would pour through fanzines and books like Dance of Days and Banned in D.C. so engaged by the shots of the kids at the show or the bands just hanging out. “Oh my God. They’re like… real people.” These were the shots that really told the story of the friendships and intimacy formed through the music. I always wanted to take those kind of pictures. I always wanted to take the “UnBand” picture. The one where they were just being themselves and not (as the Agnostic Front song goes) “Not another character in a Hardcore handbook. This past Saturday some friends, old and new, gathered to see GO! and others play the final ABC No Rio matinee before the ball and chain rebuild the aging landmark. I did my best to capture some of the friends who gathered. Some of which live on separate coasts. Others I only see sporadically at events such as this one. All near and dear to my heart. These are the kinds of intimate images I always wanted to take. I did my best to get some unguarded shots but people have a way of spotting a camera and wanting to ham it up.

Skate Rats

This afternoon I decided to take my lunch down to the Hudson River (about three blocks from me) to check out some of the extensions that have recently been made there. It was such a beautiful day I thought I’d  to wander down to the nearby skate ramps to see if there was any action to be had. Luckily I had my camera with me and after introducing myself around  took a few shots. Since picking up the Canon 15mm Fisheye I’ve found so many uses for it. Capturing some sick in flight was high on the list.