Harder Than It Seems
Ever photograph a concert where you can't see the faces of the musicians? Let me tell ya, it ain't easy!
Up here in Vermont as live music got underway this spring, I spent a few nights on the wind swept, body-temperature-sucking roof of Nectar's in Burlington. It's pretty freaking awesome to see all these bands playing on the roof and killing it all night, but the biggest downside is there is no way to get in front of the band... unless I want to stand 50 yards away, 25 feet below the stage, with an onslaught of drunk attendees unleashing their pent-up energy and responsibilities.
This challenge makes the night a harder dance then I ever learned in 5th-grade ballroom. Attention is key. Attention to patterns, movement, songs, etc. The nights when I was up there, I would spend the first couple songs of the set almost exclusively zoning in on the band and learning each member's mannerisms. For example, at the end of almost every song, Troy Millette would turn around, raise up his guitar, and hit a big final strum while locking in with his drummer. The same can be said about Daniel Bishop, his bassist, as turnarounds came and went. When beginning the turnaround, Daniel would look at Ryan Clausen (drums) and unleash some little grin or beam a big smile out into the night. I began to time my photos and my positions on stage with when and where these moments were happening.
On a standard stage (ie, not a roof with a 25 foot drop below) you don't have to worry about this sort of thing nearly as much, because from standing in front of the stage, you have a clear line of sight to all the band member's faces.
One more thing before I go: don't f**k with people. In a setting like this, you are on stage, moving around, ducking in and around band members. Give them some space, and for gods sake don't knock over their shit or step on a pedal... or kick over a beer... or get in anyone's way. Give them some space and make sure the band is actually okay with you being there and with what you are doing.
By Ben M. Collins
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