Shooting Bands

Shooting bands live is always a challenge.   Being between the stage and the crowd is a hard line for photographers to follow.  In the crowd you are faced with blocking issues and being on stage is a distraction.  It is my goal to be both a fly on the wall and an active participant.  Using distance to capture the overall feel and sense of place.  Then getting in as close as I can to illustrate the raw performance in a way that highlights the small details of each performer.  From facial expressions to sweat on a singer’s brow. It is all needed to add depth to an image.

Another challenge when shooting concerts is light.  Some venues mix light with what seems to be no consideration for the people on stage.  An example would be using deep colored gels that work against the skin tones of the performers.  Heavy use of red seems to be one that appears often.  Others will flood the stage in an almost even light never isolating the band from the rest of the stage.

One way to over come this for me is the use of B&W.  By shooting outside of color the light becomes simply a matter of the grey scale.  Leaving the distraction of color behind to illustrate the performers best.  B&W also brings out some of the more subtle aspects of light that may be lost due to color filters and effects.  A light on the back of a singer’s head may not be flattering when it is a heavy blue.  However, when color isn’t part of the photo it becomes a great separation between the performer and the black background.
On a personal level higher contrast images tend to draw my eye in.  Things get lost in the middle grey areas.  By pushing things to black or white allows me to grab a performer and place them in space where by they stand out against the background.  What smaller details get lost in the shadows only enhance the larger ones that are standing in the spotlight.
A good example of what I am talking about are the shots I took of  “The National” when they came to Seattle Washington on their tour for the album “Boxer”.  They are based in Brooklyn New York City and have a sound that is melodic yet raw.  Frontman Matt Berninger uses pointed lyrics with his deep bullfrog voice to push stories into your mind.

These photos were taken at The Showbox Theatre a venue that is perfect for an indie rock band.  It has a wonderful sound and an amazing chandelier.  The crowd turned out and were treated to a great show.

If you have any questions about the images let me know.

Photos From The Show

The National Homepage

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  1. […] each time they have passed through Seattle. You can see some of my images of from their shows at The ShowBox and Marymoor […]

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