Here’s another photo from that Staten Island VFW show. Though I could be wrong, I believe this be the Aaron Lazausk of the Rockville, Connecticut emo/noise-core band Cable. Like I said in my earlier post featuring an image of Three Steps Up, there were some really amazing bands on this bill. At the time, the band had a split ‘7 inch with Staten Island’s Malcom’s Lost (also on the bill) and were just about to release ‘Variable Speed Drive’ on Doghouse records. An eight song powerhouse that I would come to know the band best for. When I think of all the now highly regarded bands I saw in basements, cavernous clubs and VFW halls, it gives me somewhat of a rush. Almost as if I was on to something long before all the squares got a hold of it.
While I attended countless shows at many storied venues over the years, it was the VFW, and Basement shows I was lucky enough to make my way to that will always hold a special place in my heart. The conversations and friendships struck up with once strangers and standing toe to toe within spitting distance of the band. Leaning in to sing the chorus you just heard for the first time just seconds ago. Pictured here is an image of the band 3 Steps Up. I saw them along with a slew of other groups, including New Jersey’s Lifetime, Weston, Cable, and others. This Staten Island “Dagobah Cafe” named VFW Hall show, was worth the long and arduous trip from Manhattan. Thanks to former Sleeper/Serpico guitarist/vocalist for info on the band and the side story about their European tour.
After seeing several of my images used without permission, notification or credit on separate platforms in recent weeks, I’m seriously considering watermarking anything I share or post in the future. For quite some time now, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that individuals see no fault in taking and using someone’s work or personal property without at the very least, asking. For whatever reason, this has always been a music related issue for me. Bands, record labels, magazines and the what not perhaps thinking that someone else’s work is public domain. While it was a personal friend and professional photographer who, years ago, convinced me to stop watermarking my work, it was another who upon relaying my frustrations, asked me, why on earth I wasn’t.
Upon sharing some new watermarks with a friend and my ideas with my wife, I was told that someone might crop out my watermark if it was perhaps placed incorrectly, or that I might consider sharing small, grainy ones instead. Needless to say, it’s frustrating. While this could take some time, I feel that with some time and patient research, I’ll be using more watermarks to both protect my work and piss off the mother fuckers who take without asking. Below are some links to my recent discoveries.
A watermark I’ve used in the past.
When I decided to upgrade from the Canon 7D to the Canon’s 5D Mark III. It was strictly a business decision. One that would hopefully take my studio and event photography to the next level. Never once did I ever consider it becoming my everyday, every occasion camera. However, with my wife urging me to trade in the old model. I was left with little to no choice. So within a week of purchase and two studio sessions knocked out. I carefully took my fresh out the box Canon to a local music venue and shot some imaages of my favorite local and touring bands. With thec 5D not featuring a pop up flash like the 7D. I brought along my Canon 320 EX external flash and experimented with bouncing the light in different directions. The results were rewarding, to say the very least. Attempting and successfully working with a completely different set of tools felt amazing. As I’ve always felt somewhat of a sense of fear that I might fall short when trying to adapt to new things. Below is a sample of a shot I took of Shakusky’s Kira Mattheson. I’ve also included a like to one of my music sites where I’ve featured sets from each of the bands that played that night. Document Fanzine . Rock On.
In a recent conversation with friend, fellow photographer and mentor Kevin. I was questioned about my use of watermarks. I explained that I had so many of my music related photos used without permission, notice or credit over the years and how using a watermark gave me a sense of assurance that such branding would cut down on, if not eliminate the practice of taking without asking. As ridiculous as it might seem, it pisses me off when I have to ask for a photo credit after it’s already been used without notification. In the days of film, this never seemed to be an issue, due to the fact that you, the photographer, owned the negative. In a time of social media’s immediacy and a digital age where a file / image replaces the negative. Problems certainly have more of a chance to arise.
Still, his question and critique really made me think. Is it really worth it? Does it reduce the emotion or intended message within the image. If so, does that tiny assurance relieve any of the anxiety or paranoia of having one of your shots appear uncredited on someone’s band page? Probably not. But still, it’s an idea I’m still not ready to completely embrace. So, what do you think? Bands, Photographers? I’d love to hear from you.
Having worked with Tory on two separate occasions. We’ve worked towards creating some noteworthy images. Ones that displayed both her talent and beauty. Strangely enough, each of the two sessions left me scratching my head, thinking, she is far more beautiful than I’ve portrayed her to be. Far to beautiful to be hiding under all the clothes and makeup that only serve to mask any of her beautiful features.. Just an opinion, but one that cried out, begging for redemption on my part. For, in my heart of hearts. I had failed in not portraying her as the beautiful woman I saw her as.
Armed with ideas and a sense of determination I reached out. Much to my surprise and slight confusion, she not only agreed, but thanked me for the second (actually third chance.) Knowing, as well as accepting that each individual has their own sense of style and look that they’re comfortable with. It can make for a difficult task in attempting to have someone give in to a look other than their own. In Tory’s case, she made it incredibly easy for me. My suggestion to wear a comfortable tee shirt and go minimal with the makeup could best be equated to a less is more theory. Personally, I felt that those small changes went a long way to bring out her true beauty. I was finally given the chance to see the woman I always envisioned was under the makeup and clothing.
I can’t go without thanking her for both the opportunity and trust she gifted. I’m more than happy to report that I finally got it right.
The other night I posed a simple, yet complex question to a friend and fellow music photographer. “Can you ever see yourself enjoying, or even going to a show or concert without your camera?” It was a question I had to ask, considering I’ve asked it of myself countless times. After what seemed to be a decades long pause, he exhaled “No. I don’t.” The answer was as much a surprise as it was a relief. Having asked myself that very same question numerous times over the years. I find it somewhat strange that I know for a fact that I couldn’t. I don’t see any time in the near of distant future where I’m hanging back with a beer in my hand taking the show in as nothing more than a spectator. Whereas I see myself now as the old man with the camera at the show. I’ll probably end up as the really old man with the moment capturing apparatus at shows twenty years from now. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
After years of not printing much of anything. I’ve taken on the task of printing some of my favorite music related images shot throughout that time frame. Each week I’ve picked four images to printed at my favorite lab Duggal Visual in Chelsea. For this weeks trip in I’ve focused on some of my favorites featuring bass players. From as far back as I can remember. The bass has always been an instrument for inspiration. Below are the four images I picked. Any feedback would be appreciated. Feel free to share your favorite Bass slayers.
I’ve been taking pictures at shows and concerts since I was sixteen. Somewhere along that long road I managed to get pretty good at it. More than anything, I find that I’ve learned from others. The list of shooters who have inspired me in both the past and present is pretty long. I won’t name names here since the list would be long and arduous. One thing I never see enough of is pictures of drummers. “Why Not?” I ask. I mean their the back beat of the band. Nothing happens without them dictating the pace. Sure, it might be a bit of a trick making your way on stage or reaching in from the side. However, most of us shoot or smaller venues or at least have a photo pass for the bigger ones. All it takes is a little initiative and some brass balls to make your way to the stage and slip into the background for a few shots of the timekeeper. Knowing the bands songs always helps in knowing when to shoot. If not, just it tight and follow those rhythms. Within a minute or two you’ll see and hear the pattern. Be patient and be ready. When the time comes to take your shot you’ll know it. Don’t get in the way and don’t over stay your welcome. From my own experience, they’ve (drummers/percussionists) have always been grateful to see you included them in the bands set. So go ahead, slide in.
Earlier this week I received an email request from a band asking to use one of my images for some shirt designs they were working on. The request, one that would most likely have me beaming with pride in the past. Left me with more mixed emotions than I ever thought I would have. Feelings ranging from surprise, feeling somewhat honored and even a bit uneasy came and went. Sure it was cool to have someone appreciate your work and even want to use it to promote their art. But as selfish as it might look. I couldn’t help but think, “Well, what’s in it for me?” There was no offer of money, product or a percentage share in future groupie earnings. Considering the band is asking for a copy of the image that doesn’t bare my standard watermark. No one is really going to know or care who took the shot. No one will know it’s my work. So it is in no way promoting my so called brand. Later that day, after much consideration, I asked the band for a big bag of filthy money and a stolen truck filled with shirts. I’m still not sure it will happen in the end. Until then.