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Busy Weeks

It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks with loads of shows to shoot.  Each one was different and great in it's own way so let's recap a few.

Hed PE was the first up and I just have to say wow. Not only was I amazingly lucky to be given full access to shoot, which allowed for some very unique shots, but they are always a blast live. A strange mix of rock and gangsta rap and reggae all rolled into one bundle.  It was a great night and there were some amazing bands that opened for them.

From there I went to two tribute bands, tribute bands you say? Yes, Mechanical Manson and Zombiewood. I had seen a few different tribute bands lately and I wasn't impressed they weren't trying to become the band in any way. It was completely different for these two. Zombiewood looked the part and sounded great they even had the robot etc. Mechanical Manson transported me right back to Marilyn Manson in the Antichrist superstar days. I wished I was able to shoot more than the three songs for both these bands. All I can say is WOW. These guys really have it down.

Last night was The Raskins opening for Ted Nugent, sure I got to photograph Ted too, but The Raskins really impressed me.  We did an interview prior to the show and the brothers were so nice and the interview went well.  I look forward to reading it when it comes out. Their live performance was energy filled and their New York sound was on full display. A mix of originals and classic punk covers and I was hooked.

There have been a few other concerts that I have worked in between and I also managed to jam in some travel and nature photography as well.  Stay tuned for a post about that but right now, enjoy some of the photos from these shows.  Remember more photos are on my social media pages and my Snapchat is the behind the scenes.

Be Fearless

Hellyeah and Carmine Appice Signings

Local record stores are amazing in more ways than one. Not only are you supporting a local business, but you're supporting the local music scene. While our Zia records is a bit of a small business chain they are everything a local record store needs to be. They support the music scene in a variety of ways including in-store appearances and signings. Last weekend they had two; Carmine Appice was signing his new book Stick It and two days later Hellyeah did a signing before their show.

I was lucky to be able to go to both.

Carmine is a legendary drummer with a long and storied history having played with over 20 groups and influencing many of the newer breed of drummers including Dave Lombardo, Richard Christy and Tommy Lee to name only a few. He was in town for a King Kobra the following night. He was a very genuine person that was a pleasure to talk to.  While I cannot claim to be a huge lover of his bands, I know his work within the music industry and I respect him. This signing only increased that respect.  That was Friday night.

Sunday brought Hellyeah into the store. The turn out was huge.  Sure Vinnie Paul and Chris Brady live in town, but this was a larger than expected turn out for me. Prior to the signing beginning fans were told the band would only be signing their new album.  This didn't end up being the case. They signed posters, guitars, drums and all sorts of items which pleased the crowd.

Hellyeah is described as a supergroup with members including the above mentioned Paul (Pantera and others) Chad Gray (Mudvayne) Tom Maxwell (Nothingface) and Chris Brady and Kyle Sanders. But still they took time to interact with the fans and even made one small girls day. She was so excited about the whole experience. This so often is not the case with these groups. I have been to too many of these events where these big bands just rush through and sign. This was not the case with either event and the fans weren't disappointed.

So where's the photo of me with these people? I don't have one. I don't take them. This is strange to many people but that is not what it is about for me. For me being able to shoot and talk to these people is what I want. I have those memories I don't need an autograph.

So get out there and support your local scene on all levels, not just your favorite venue, support all the music venues, but also do not forget your local music stores because they bring you these events that you wouldn't get otherwise.

Be Fearless

Prong Play Las Vegas

Sometimes you just need to listen to some loud angry music. After navigating parking and Fremont street Saturday night that was me and Prong was just what I needed. Prong came to the Las Vegas Country Saloon and true to form at this venue there were a variety of local bands opening. On this night it was local bands Meade Ave, Thrill Killers, Protest and Nebula X joining the bill.  I only caught the last two but I am sure I will see the others in the near future. While I love this format giving local bands a chance to open for national acts four acts makes for a long night.

Prong is a three-piece metal/thrash metal band that originated in New York City in 1986 currently they are in their third rebirth. Everyone is familiar with their song Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck so I wasn’t sure if the crowd was going to be a bunch of people just waiting for that song. It wasn’t.

Tommy Victor, Jason Christopher and Art Cruz hit the stage with a burst of energy shortly after 11:30 and did not slow down throughout the night. They have just released their 12th album X (No Absolutes) and featured a few songs from this album including Ultimate Authority and Sense of Ease. These tracks and this album exhibit traditional Prong thrash riffs and melodic grooves. With twelve albums to draw from the set was eclectic and high powered with songs like Revenge….Best Served Cold, Beg to Differ, The Power of the Damager, Rude Awakening and of course Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck.

The heavy riffs pounded through the venue and it was a straight forward high energy set without a lot of time spent on conversation. I hadn’t seen Prong in quite a while and they did not disappoint, they were consistent as ever and delivered a set that left the crowd wanting more but at the same time feeling like all their favorites were represented. The crowd knew all the songs including the new material. 

Prong rocked this venue and the people who were there to see it got to see a pounding set of loud aggressive music that delivered classic Prong along with the new tracks. If you have a chance to see this tour do not pass it up, just bring earplugs.

Three Shows, Three Days - Been There Done That

Well this seems a bit redundant. Yes I went to a marathon run of shows again. This time all for fun, but three shows in three days was calling my name and I didn't take one photo the whole time.

It is no suprise I am a big fan of live music and I like to support the local scene. Sometimes this means seeing a local band and other times it is supporting a smaller local venue with national acts both equally important to me.

So this weekend I went on another marathon run. This began with The Saints of Las Vegas at the Palms Casino.  The Saints are a local band that I had not seen before, but I had seen certain members in their various other projects.  This was a free show and it was very well received. Two hours of covers played to a full house on a Thursday night.

Friday was going to be more difficult since I had an early commitment, but not matter how tired I was I was determined to make it to (Hed)pe and Powerman 5000 at the Las Vegas Country Saloon.  This show was only $15. You can't beat that and I keep preaching to people that they need to go support this local venue. Not only do they get national acts at a very reasonable price, but they have local bands open for them. I have discovered many new bands that way.  The main acts of the night didn't disappoint. (Hed)pe's frontman met all the fans after and visually and energy wise Powerman 5000 never disapoints.  With that I was done for another night.

Saturday had a variety of options for me. I could go to an old standby venue to see some local music that I really do love or I could try something new. Up for a challenge I went to see Darby O'Gill and the Little People playing at O'Sheas Casino. Darby O'Gill is an Irish band as you might expect, but they mix in modern songs with an Irish twist including accordion and fiddle like Lorde's Royals, Sweet Child of Mine and a personal favorite of mine The Devil Went Down to Georgia. While I have seen them before it had been a long time so it was well worth it.

So that was the weekend. Three very different shows at three different venues. I will continue to say you need to support your local musicians and venues wherever you are. I spend entire trips discovering new bands and new places. I highly encourage you to try it. Don't be afraid of something different or new people just go. You might really be surprised.

Be Fearless

The Hardest Thing for Me

I just did the hardest thing. For me it is the hardest thing I ever do. What is this? A difficult shoot? A marathon? No. Removing images from my website. Why is this so hard? Well each image means something to me in one way or another and some of them are friends. So why do it? There was getting to be too many images on my site and I need to focus on the best work and to be honest some of these shots, while fine were just not comparing to my more recent work.  This is to be expected. People progress with their skills, but my website is not the place to show that progression. You can see more of that progress on a social media feed.

So I did it. I removed images and added some more, so it is probably the same amount of images, but the ones now more closely represent my current abilities.  It is still difficult. Especially if they are images of friends, but friends understand this is my business, just like it is for many of them.

I am never fully satisfied with my website and I will continue to tweak it. In fact I am thinking of possibly freshening up the layout. Keep growing and evolving right? Evolve or die. Stay tuned for more to come.

Be Fearless

Social Media Versus Website

People ask me a lot why I put so many more images on my social media, especially Facebook and Instagram then I do on my website.  Well to me that is simple.  Only 1-3 shots from any given show might make my website but social media I am free to share a lot more.  

Recently I shot Queensryche.  I sent 30 final photos to my magazine for them to select, this is way more then I usually pull but I was so drawn in by the colors of the show I pulled a lot of extras.  Of these I think two went to my website.  The remaining are still good, they just weren't the ones I selected as the best but I knew people would want to see them so the go up on social media for people to experience.  Hence my social accounts are always going to have a lot more images then the website.  They also get updated more often.

There are links to all my social accounts from this page so please go check them out and give them a follow.

Be Fearless!

Three Songs and Out

When you shoot concerts you typically get three songs and that is it.  Occasionally I see other photographers sneaking shots after the three songs but I never do that because I respect the fact that I got the access to shoot the show and I do not want to bend the rules.  Usually I am fine with three songs and out but on certain nights I wish that rule wasn't in effect.

This happened to me recently shooting the band letLive who was opening for Killswitch Engage and Rise Against.  The front man of this band was so dynamic and absolutely everywhere from the crowd to climbing the stage I wish I could have shot more of him.  His constant movement made it a challenging shoot but it was a performance I will remember for a long time to come.  

letLive was the first band of the night and the crowd was still very good sized. Those who saw this band really got a great show.  I got shots I like during the three songs, but I will still wish I could have shot more just to capture these moments.  Oh well no matter what it was an excellent show to shoot and a band I definitely recommend checking out.

Be Fearless

Still Life or Die Trying

Today I set out to do some still life photography.  This is not an area that I normally do so it is a bit of a challenge.  Why do I do this?  One I like to keep challenging myself and two I joined a local camera group and this is a goal through this group.  Let me explain.

In this local group there are monthly contests.  I began entering because the feedback is good and it helps you improve not just by receiving feedback on your images but by listening to the feedback on the others.  There are fourteen categories to enter each month and you win ribbons based on your score and ranking, the judging process is rather complicated in the beginning but once you get the hang of it there is no confusion.  Again I enter for the feedback, but there is a large prize if you win 10 blue ribbons in individual categories.  Now I currently have 8 categories covered, but I normally enter in the same 7 categories.  So now that I am so close I want the big prize.  I need two blue ribbons in any two of the following categories, Creative, Still Life, Nature and Wildlife, Commercial or Portraiture.  

So I do not do portraiture as this category is set up so that is out.  I tried a bunch of infrared because I think that is what I will do for creative and now I am just working on Still Live, Nature or Commercial.  Today was Still Life.  I had a couple of different setups and for my first attempt they are not bad, but they are certainly not ready for the contest.  I will work on these more and see what happens.

I will continue to challenge myself and keep trying different things.  I will eventually get those remaining two blue ribbons.  I will push myself out of my comfort zone and it will help me be a better photographer.  My two best still life images are here for you to see and let me know what you think.

Be Fearless

Why Can't I Get Access

Lately I have been around a lot of aspiring and current concert photographers.  I am hearing one complaint over and over, "Why Can't I get Access." Access isn't easy to get you do need to be in with someone and even then you aren't guaranteed access.  Concert photography is something we do simply for the love of it.  The pay is low, a lot of times it is last minute notice, you carry tons of heavy gear around and stand waiting to be ushered in and out of the photo pit and that doesn't even cover the various items that get thrown on you up there.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely if you have the passion for it.

Me I will shoot anything I can including bands I have never heard of or bands I am not a fan of. Sometimes this allows me to be introduced to a great band and others I don't have this experience, but I was able to shoot and that is what matters.

I shoot small venues and big and each have their own challenges.  The small places without the photo pits you need to fight through the crowd to try to get a shot.  The big places the stages can be very high up which you have to watch your angles so you don't end up with all up nose shots.  I prefer having access to the photo pit for the space at least but aside from the height there are other issues.  Every pit I am in lately has one person with an iPhone.  That is frustrating, not that you can't get photos, but they really aren't going to be the same.  Another show a friend of the band with an all access pass wanted to stand in the pit.  They have the right, it would just be easier if they waited until the photographers three songs were up.

To me all the benefits outweigh any challenges.  I find it a privilege to be able to shoot these shows and therefore I will jump through any hoops that are put in front of me.  I won't complain about a venue or the access.  Until my next shoot.

Be Fearless

That Time Again

I am very excited since next week I get some face time with another concert photographer to review my portfolio.  Last year this went very well and I am hoping this year it does as well.  It is very frightening to put your work out there for others to review but it is invaluable.  

So next week I am taking an entire week and devoting it to photography.  I am going to have this photographer look at my portfolio, I am going to also spend some quality time with a photographer in town that I respect greatly, while he shoots different things from me he has an amazing eye and works with light like no one else.  I am always impressed with his work.  

Two different photographers and a week filled with growth and excitement.  Can't wait.

Be Fearless

So Many Opinions

I am a firm believer in mentors and seeking others opinions, but it is horrible when they seem to contradict each other.  As I have discussed my website is always a work in progress.  Recently a photographer I admire offered to review my website.  He had good things to say.  I then watched a website critique on the internet which made me question what I had done.  Since I was thoroughly confused I sought opinions from a photography group and kept getting different opinions.  When I thought I was just about to give up someone said one simple phrase to me, "TRUST YOURSELF."  There it was, so simple and yet I got lost in everything.  Once I saw that I just relaxed.  I realized everyone is going to have a different opinion and you are never going to please everyone.  That isn't earth shattering, I knew that, but I got so wrapped up in the different opinions I lost sight of it for a moment.  

It is easy to spin out of control and get wrapped up in these things, but we need to just know our goals and ensure we are happy with the product we are putting out.  Unless everyone starts telling me the same thing I am not going to worry about differing opinions.  I will keep this in perspective.

Be Fearless

Personal Project

To start this year I began a personal project to go along with everything else I do. The goal of this project is to push myself into areas I don't feel as comfortable in order to grow. The project is nothing new it is a 365 day project where I take a photo a day.  So far I have done some still life, animal shoots, sunsets and city scenes.  A fairly diverse grouping.  

At this time there are some shots that I really love and others that are just a quick shot.  It is funny to see what people respond to.  

At this point I am only 11 days in but I look forward to seeing what develops.

Be Fearless

New Gear

I am debating making a change in my gear.  There is always that debate between full frame and cropped sensors and the people who say you can never be a professional with a cropped sensor, but that is untrue.  Some working "professional" photographers like the cropped sensor.  For example I like if I am going to shoot wildlife I can take my 300mm zoom lens which essentially becomes a 450mm zoom for a fraction of the price, not to mention the weight it saves me in my bag.  Carry a bag of gear around long enough and you will see why people have assistants.  Most professional photographers I have spoken to state it is not the camera but the person, sure you need gear that can work with you but it is not the most important, and lenses are always more important to me than the camera body.

For me the debate is not focusing on full or cropped.  I am torn between two different cameras.  One is better in low light, but the focusing system is not as fast and the other has a better focusing system.  These are two elements that are essential for me shooting concerts.  At this point I am leaning toward the one with the better faster focusing system.  The low light differences are marginal to me and I think this can be compensated fairly well with quality glass.  I get torn because a lot of people really love the other camera, but in situations like concerts where there is a lot of movement fast focusing is important.  

Who knows I will continue to decided this.  To me gear is about what works best for you and your needs.  When I first started shooting I went to my local camera store knowing nothing.  The clerk discussed Nikon and Canon with me and for what I was looking at they were both fairly similar.  He gave me two pieces of advice to decide.  1. If I knew other photographers that I was close with consider going with the same brand as them because we could share gear and 2. go with what felt better in my hands.  Being a lefty and cameras are designed for right handed use this resonated with me.  I grabbed the two camera as you would shoot and I knew instantly which one felt right.  That was the easiest decision and it really made it clear.  

Let me add a side pitch here.  If you have a local small business camera store support them.  They have been so helpful to me on this journey.  Sure you can get a better price many times off the internet, but nothing beats the experience these stores have.  You can't get this experience at a big box retailer consistently.  Plus the prices often are not very different.  Recently I purchased my 50mm 1.4 lens at my local store.  I love that lens it is amazingly sharp, fast and the quality is superior.  After the instant rebate the price was the same as what I would pay online so don't rule out these small businesses as being too expensive.

I wish all gear was as easy to decide on as my initial camera.  I have gone through multiple camera bags, because they just don't function the way I thought they would.  Opinions and reviews from others are helpful but just don't get bogged down in these.  One review feels one way and another goes the completely opposite.  Full frame or cropped seems to go along the same lines as the Nikon or Canon debate and as for you can't be a professional photographer with a cropped sensor I don't buy it.  Do you ask a photographer which they use when you are hiring them or purchasing a print? Most likely not. You care about the final result and how that image makes you feel and that is the way it should be.

Make your decisions based on what is right for you.

Be Fearless

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This is what happens when an animal walks across your keyboard when you are working.  When I sit down is the cue for them to come running, because yes I do need their help when I am working. 

So I have been away for a little bit.  I took my trip.  It was very successful I shot over 500 images and was able to make some connections and even squeeze in some fun.  This trip I focused on shooting a variety of things and places, but really tried pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  For my music shots I primarily shot rock music, but on this trip I focused on the jazz and blues performers.  For other areas I tried to shoot the small details.  This provided me with some unique images, I did get some of the larger expected images too.

I have been processing these through, but I have been so extremely busy since my return.  I will continue to work on these and those I really like will make this website as well as others and many other shots will be on my business Facebook page.  

Since I have returned my focus has gone back to the music.  I will continue to balance that.  I recently watched an interview with the photographer Von Wong and it inspired me.  I was amazed to hear that he began shooting with a point and shoot purchased at Walmart in 2007.  When you look at where he is with his photography with no formal training and in a relatively short period of time it is hard not to be inspired.  His style is completely different from mine, but his work is impressive.  0999999999999999 (yes that last bit is courtesy of the cat, but why not leave it in.  That is the mood I'm in.)

I wrote a little while back about self promotion and social media and that continues to be a common trend with everyone I speak to.  Again it continues to be a love hate relationship but that is the way of it.  Don't complain just carve out the time and take care of it.

As for me I am back into heavy shooting mode, but I am taking a rare night off to go to a concert as a fan and not shooting.  We will see how this goes.  Don't get me wrong as a huge music fan I am excited to see the show.  I just always still find myself in "work" mode.  I watch every aspect of the show now and thing about how I would shoot it.  I am working on turning that off more so I can just sit back and enjoy, but no matter what it will be fun.  

After this little break I have some more shoots lined up and I need to get my images in for the next contest.  I am changing my entries I think.  I had been staying away from entering concert shots, because I was not sure how they would go over with the judges, but to date they have really felt those shots so I think I may enter them.  To me that just goes to emphasize that you have to shoot what you love.  

More shots and updates coming shortly.

Be Fearless.

 

My Favorite Blogs

I try to keep my blog on point between photography and music, but I have recently been thinking about what blogs I really like.

I do enjoy a few different photography blogs which I like mostly for the educational content, but my favorite blog is from a musician.  I love the way he writes about what is going on career wise but also incorporates his daily mundane life into it.  I am one of those people who finds these little mundane details interesting, not because I really care about these peoples favorite television shows, but because I am interested in how they meld into one post and really give you insight into that person.  

This particular blog manages to share some information without getting bogged down in some of the stupid information sharing that seems to plague other celebrities.  While this information is shared it still manages to keep many aspects of their life private which I think it a challenging balance but one that needs to be achieved.

Why is this relevant to me?  When I sit down to share someone on my blog, Facebook or Twitter I was always thinking first "how is this going to effect peoples perception of me." I would think if I post about my non music photography would that make bands less likely to work with me?  As I focused in on the blogs I like I realized that a major part of what I liked about these were the work and personal balance.  So I decided I am going to stop questioning myself before posting. I need to post what I feel.

That decision is freedom.  

I am writing this as I try to get ready for my trip.  Typical to myself I have committed to too many things to do right before I left including a concert and a charity event.  This would be more manageable if I was not stuck with a broken laundry machine and I am needing to send my clothes out.  This couldn't come at a worse time, but it will be all good.

So I am going to go to this charity event tonight and then tomorrow I will finish getting ready for my trip.  I will have tons to photograph and everything will work out and when I return I will continue trying to get my laundry fixed.

Please watch for the new upcoming travel images.

Be Fearless