When I was on tour, just learning how to use a digital SLR, my friend Ryan would challange me into taking photos of our opening band Bloom. In theory, this was simple. The singer would wear all white, and bounce around the stage. All I had to do was open up the flash on my camera, auto focus my stock camera lens, and shoot!
God, was i wrong. I was 19 years old and we were playing at The Metro in Chicago, that discouraging night.
And from that night forward, I realized that shooting live bands, just wouldn't be my thing. It was impossible for me to take a decent band photograph. And even if a time was to come, when I found a way to do so, I hadn't seen a single live photo that I hadn't seen 100 times before. All music photos just seems so stock, so what was the point in being part of that machine?
Through out tour, I avoided taking photos of our opening bands. Instead I watched Ryan endlessly try to take 'The Live Photo" that would stand out. I would see him grind his teeth in frustration with some of his results. I felt like the frustration probably came from the fact that you can SEE what you want from the image so badly, but no matter how many different ways you try to achieve the vision your eyes could see, it just never shines through the camera.
After a pretty short amount of time, I saw his results improve. I thought to myself 'if he could do it by just trying for long enough, then it must be possible to some extent.'
Sometimes, when the bands would do sound check, he would challange me to getting worthy photos of them playing. I think i was intimidated and embarrassed my his results and tried to stick within my comfort zone. The only 'live photos' I was ever satisfied with were photos of HIM trying to get that photo he aimed for.
(This one from Ohio in 2006, stands out in my memory, as one of those moments that I was pleased with.)
When one of our tours had ended, he convinced me to stay on and follow him along on the Japanese Girls Night tour, to take photos. I think I found one through the entire tour of the west coast, that I found to be decent. And it was such a fluke!
(There she is, the Fluke)
A while later, while making a short visit to Orlando to see Ryan. He had gotten fancier equipment. An external flash.
He let me borrow it for the night, and i spent the next year or so, dreaming of owning one and refusing to ever use that stupid bulb on the top of my camera ever again.
On christmas morning, last year, I got the flash i wished for along side a bungee.
To this day, I'm unsure of its settings. I constantly try to understand it, but I guess that why people pay for schooling in this field, eh?
I always had an interest in becoming a fashion photographer. That was dumb of me. Fashion photography seems to be all about good lighting, decent models, and a good asistant. When I actualy started to get into photography, it was more with the intention of documenting a moment. Not a standard pose.
New Years of 2007, my boyfriend at the times, band played their first show and I naturally said that it HAD to be documented! This involved the flash that intimidated me so. I used the leash to block out the awkward crowd and setting. The photos came out almost too artistic. odd but good, i guess. Good enough to decide that there is no need to be intimidated by the flash. Good enough to no longer find boredom in live photos. Because the GOAL is to try create something worth looking at. Something beyond just the musician. The setting is important too. And i like to try and catch all the elements.
Ryan has helped inspire me into doing a lot of things I would have given up on, otherwise. Live photos are a big part of this statement.
Even though I took those photos that i was ok with in 2007, I had no desire to continue doing this area of photography.
But at the end of 2008, he called me up and helped me score some of the biggest photo jobs I've gotten yet! It involved shooting live music exclusively! It was an opportunity that i couldn't just PASS on because of my own personal feelings on my photos. Instead I went out and have been testing myself by shooting live music while trying to keep a very human element in it.
As soon as i started this music thing, I had to have a sit-down with my flash. I had to be stern. Tell it there was no more fucking around. I told my flash that she was a beautiful and unique snowflake. A bulb of a different color, and that she should start showing it.
And I think she listened, because last weekend, I took photos of Acid Tiger and Valient Thorr, and when i got them onto my computer to start editing, there was some crazy shit happening due to the flash going wild.
I'm enjoying the tests of double exposure. I'm enjoying the strictness in meeting deadlines. I'm enjoying what I want to do with my life, no matter what it takes. Because I always seem to surprise myself as soon as I stop giving up.