music

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.

Music is the Greatest for of Magic

Recently I was talking to a friend about music and they commented that I really know my stuff. I do but I tend to forget that sometimes.

For me music and concerts has always been about so much more. It's the feeling and the whole experience. I gravitate towards music with thought provoking lyrics. Don't get me wrong those suggary pop songs have a place. Mainly for me when I just want to drive, sing along and smile, but other than that I like songs that make you think. Some of my new favorites like Highly Suspect, Smashing Satellites do this along with my old favorites Manson, Korn and so many more.   

I don't stick to a particular genre but I do avoid country. Typically  

In this recent conversation we were talking grunge. Not everyone's thing but I did love a lot of it. We talked about why some people just can't cover thee songs. I explained that while many of them may not have been the greatest singers these songs were written from a deeply emotional place, often tortured and those frontmen, the Vedder's, Weiland's, Layne's, Cobain's etc lived that emotion. Watching them perform these songs you felt the pain and emotion behind them at times it was like watching a breakdown or therapy interchangeably. It was captivating and someone just singing that song loses the connection. It's enjoyable to hear the song but it is missing something and for me that something is very important.

One of my quotes on my page is "Music is the greatest form of magic" from Marilyn Manson. It is one of my favorites it speaks to what you really get when you get and understand the music. Sure concerts are a good time but it is so much more. 

 

Be Fearless

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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

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

What Happens When an Artist Selects your Favorite Images

I take all these music shots and have been using them in a variety of places.  Recently I have expanded this and the shots are out there more and more frequently which is amazing in itself.  I like all the final images I put out there, but there are always favorites.  

I was recently so excited to have an artist select one of my favorite images as one of their's as well.  Each image is subject to personal taste and there are a lot of them so it was very interesting when my favorite image was their's as well.

It is amazing to have my images out there and to have them receive the responses they are.  I have commented before that for most of the general community my travel shots seem to be more popular, but for me the music shots are where I have the most passion.  I love my travel shots too, but music is my first choice always.

Recently in addition to shooting live music I have been shooting wildlife which has been amazing. I love the shots I get in these settings.

At this point I have found my passion and I will continue to work with these three genres.  I have some trips planned to take travel and wildlife photos and the concerts are always available in a city like Las Vegas.

I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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

Self Promotion and a Thick Skin

You can't be faint of heart in this business and especially in the music photography genre.  There will be a lot of frustration and you just have to take it in stride and keep moving forward.  I keep reminding myself of this.

Currently I am working on broadening my reach and seeking quality national publications to submit my photos too.  Looking for these publications can often feel like a treasure hunt.  You need to find the right publication for the show you want to shoot and then you have to get the the right person.  Most times this contact information is closely guarded.

When you do make contact brace yourself.  You may receive a response or you may not.  I am still surprised when I reach out to a band to see if they would be interested in using some of the photographs I have taken of them on their social media for free that I do not receive a response. You can't take this personally, that's what I keep telling myself.  On the flip side I have worked with some promoters who respond within the same day.  

So far I have good feedback on my portfolio but I seek to continue to grow this.  I will be shooting 2 additional shows this week and I know I will have some shots from those that I can use.  Until then I will keep going with the portfolio that I currently have.  

I will speak to everyone I possibly can.  The local connections are easier, and the national ones are coming.  Until then.....

Be Fearless

Continuing Planning

Last time I wrote about planning for my trip.  That is done and I am now ready to grow.  I realized I do one other form of planning or research on a weekly basis in regards to my live photography.

Sure on occasions I have shot a concert without any knowledge of the band but that is not my preferred method.  For some local bands I attended shows without my camera just to see what the light cues might be and some of the actions of the band.  I have found this makes me able to anticipate when there might be a good shot coming up.

Tonight I am watching YouTube videos of some national artists I am hoping to shoot when they perform here next month.  Sure this is earlier than I would normally do this, but I have less then 2 weeks after I return from my trip so I am doing this research now.  When you only get 3 shows to shoot and you are rotating for space in the pit this makes it easier for me.  It also helps since I am not tall and I need to have an idea where I might get the shot.

Many of my local shoots I have tried to prepare for this by shooting from difficult angles or focusing on certain members of the band.  This I feel allows me to work with my available shots from wherever I am in the pit.

My height might also be the reason I prefer my zoom lens to the wide angle when shooting concerts.  I can use this lens and get a tight shot even if someone is in my space.  

Do I like my shots better when I do my research?  I can't say that.  One of the best shots I took was taken with no research and being completely unfamiliar with the artist.  Research isn't always practical but when I can I will do some.

Be Fearless!