Concert Photography: Heavy Metal vs. Classical Music

My first foray into photojournalism was concert photography. Because I was a heavy metal musician for many years, I got assigned to a lot of metal concerts. These were some of the toughest assignments because heavy metal bands like to create an ominous, theatrical atmosphere with red, purple, or blue lighting. It took me a while to adjust to such low lighting. Even though it was a challenge, I still enjoyed the process and in the end I became a much better photographer.   Recently, I was hired to photograph the East Valley Youth Symphony. From a photographer’s perspective, this environment is very different from rock n’ roll and heavy metal. At a rock concert you have the photo pit and three songs to get all your photos. However, with the symphony, you have seated guests and the musicians sit close together. Being discreet and quiet is of utmost importance. Most cameras make a noise when the shutter is released. This means you don’t want to shoot when the music is really quiet. Following a dress code is also important. Wearing black or dark colors is advised so that you don’t stick out and distract the audience from the performance. […]

Robert Capa: Photographer Profile

Whenever I interview someone, I usually ask them about their greatest influence. You can learn a lot about a person from their influences. What qualities attract us? How do these individuals shape our style, workflow, methodology, and etc? Maybe this influential person is someone in our field, or maybe it’s someone we know well.   I had been involved in photography for a few years before I had learned about Robert Capa, but when I had watched a documentary about his life, I became fascinated with the way he worked, his courage, and his incredible talent. Capa was a Jewish Hungarian photojournalist as well as one of the founding partners of Magnum Photos cooperative. As a young man, Capa witnessed the violence that was consuming Europe. He was part of a generation that watched Spain fall into civil war and Hitler rise to power in Germany. Capa was undaunted by the danger all around him. For example, during World War II, Capa parachuted with American troops where they were dropped into Germany. Hundreds of paratroopers died and Capa could have easily died with them, but it never stopped him from capturing footage of the war. Because of Capa, we have a glimpse […]

Project Zodiac

Every year since I was a child, my mother bought Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar. Besides being interested in astrology, my mother referred to the calendar to know the dates for cutting our hair. For example, if you cut your hair on the full moon in water signs, which is Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio, it’s supposed to promote thickness.   Several years ago, I became friends with a woman who studied astrology and even worked for the renowned Mountain Astrologer Magazine. Through my friendship, I gained a much better and deeper understanding of astrology. I learned that it involves much more than our sun sign, which is the sign we’re born into. I love talking astrology with other folks. When I decided to embark on this photography series, my two main goals were to use models that were actually born in the sign they were portraying and to create my own interpretation so that I wasn’t merely replicating the imagery that I’ve seen so many times for each sign. Of course, like with Gemini, which I have pictured above, there are some elements that I had to include. Gemini is about the two sides of the coin, the twins. However, Gemini is […]

Themes

I enjoy all my shoots, but I particularly had fun with this one. When I first mentioned doing a photo series for the 7 Deadly Sins, a lot of people told they thought it was over done. In some ways they’re right, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could come up with my own interpretation, despite the fact so many people have put their own stamp on this theme. This photoshoot was Gluttony, which involves an excess of food usually. I got the inspiration for this shoot from an old Gwen Stefani video called “Luxurious.” There’s a scene where Stefani is lying on colorfully wrapped candy. I loved the colors and the concept, and so I adapted it to my shoot. I certainly did get weird looks at the store when I picked up bags and bags of candy. Though I bought quite a lot, it still wasn’t enough. During the shoot, I made sure to arrange the candy so that I would be able to go back into Photoshop and clone the candy so that the entire background would be covered. The editing was a little more difficult than I thought it […]

Tattle Tales: Victor

Even though I have completed my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I still like to collect stories of people and their ink. I met Victor while he was working for my parents. Of course, I immediately noticed the art on his sleeve. It’s no surprise that  Alice in Wonderland is one of his favorite movies. However, one thing that I was surprised to learn from my conversation with Victor is how tolerant religious communities have become in regard to tattoos. Victor is very active in his church, and he has not encountered negativity towards his tattoo. During my interview with Victor, I came to realize that tattoos give people the ability to keep their artwork and memories with them no matter what. In the past year, we’ve seen horrific environmental disasters affect many cities all over the country. Sometimes, in a matter of a just a few hours, people lose everything that they own. People with tattoos don’t have to worry about losing the art on their bodies. As tattoos have become more mainstream, our idea of art has evolved. Art is no longer exclusive. Art belongs to all of us.

Cathy Rankin

I have had the pleasure of working with Cathy on a few shoots. This shot was taken during a shoot where we were trying to get as many different looks in one session. In just a few hours and using only natural light, we were able to get many different looks. Being resourceful is an important skill as a photographer. I chose to shoot at my parent’s house because their backyard has interesting walls and lots of greenery, which is rare in Phoenix. Overall, the shoot was a success and we both had a lot of fun.

Superhero

A couple of weekends ago, I had the honor of photographing for the band Superhero at the W Hotel in Scottsdale. Superhero often performs at major corporate and charity events, playing some of the best music from 80’s through today. The band was absolutely great, but the lighting was a definite concern for me. There was very little lighting on the singers, and a large projector screen silhouetted the musicians because there wasn’t enough light in front to balance the screen’s brightness. Because I’ve photographed so many metal bands who play on dark stages, I knew how to handle the situation. Besides adjusting aperture, ISO, and, shutter speed, the other thing that I do in this situation is wait for appropriate moments to capture a good shot. For example, I knew it was too dark to get any kind of jumping or quick movement. Instead, I waited for those moments where the musicians held a pose or weren’t moving too much. A lot of concert photography is making the most out of the situation. The lighting isn’t always going to be ideal. The venue may be so crowded that it’s hard to capture a shot of the band without fans blocking your view. […]

Happy Hour at Parkwood Studios

I’ve always struggled coming up with exciting or unique poses, and  the fact that I put so much pressure on myself to suggest cool poses on the spot doesn’t help either. During the last Happy Hour shoot, I saw that the model had absolutely no problem coming up with different poses and expressions, and I decided that I should let her choose the pose and then I’ll compose the shot. Since my background is concert photography I’m more used to photographing things that are outside of my control. Unless there’s a specific look or idea that I have, I like to collaborate with the other person. In this case especially, our model, Lux Lacheln, had a lot of great ideas for poses that complemented the wardrobe and background. I think the results turned out pretty well.

Chester

I’m sure I have mentioned this before in an earlier post, but, as a photographer, I always like challenging myself. I’ve photographed animals before, but not very often. Photographing animals, particularly wildlife, is a whole genre and style of photography in itself. When I visited Alaska, I took a workshop where we learned effective tools for photographing landscapes and wildlife. At one point, the teacher showed us a photo that he had taken of a newly born eagle. He said that it took him 4 years to get that photo. It takes an incredible amount of patience and a bit of luck to get those kinds of photographs. I don’t see myself backpacking through the woods with a heavy duty telephoto lens anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to photograph animals when I can. Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where people had horse property. I love horses and so I asked Chester’s owner if I could photograph her horse. Chester, the beautiful auburn horse, was easy going, but also very shy. He liked to stay close to his girlfriend, Velvet. I kept my goals for this shoot very simple because the space I was sharing with the horse […]