Friday, May 13, 2016

Jon Brion at Warsaw 05.06.16

Five years ago, I attended my first Jon Brion concert, after an eventful day at a Renaissance Fair with my older brother Nick at my side. Back then, I was still trying to get into concert photography and it's pretty hard for me to look back at those pictures. There are a couple I like, but eeeesch, good thing I got better. These days, I usually ask for a photo pass and cover shows for Surviving the Golden Age. For this concert, I was there as a fan, along with some new friends, but it's so hard for me to not bring anything to a show. I took along my mirror less EOS M with the kit lens and an 85mm.

I am not a fan of that kit lens at all and really struggled to get it to perform, but as you can see from the photos, I was a little too close for the 85mm with a cropped sensor. I ended up taking a lot of detail shots that I thought were interesting. That beat up old amp really spoke to me. I picked the right side of the stage because honestly, trying to get interesting shots of a person at a piano is rough. Of course, the stage crew set up a music stand right in front of me, so I had a fun time working around that. All in all, they aren't my best work, but there are more than a couple I'm happy with this time around. I went with more of a grainy processing style because I felt like that fit this performance.

Oh hey, and maybe I should tell you a little about the show too. I'm a little rusty at this. It was a much better set than the first time I saw him. Besides all of the equipment working, yey!, there was a long set at the end of the night where the audience was singing along, to the point where Brion wasn't even using his microphones. There's something so special about that type of audience participation; it's what I've always loved most about Ben Folds. When a crowd breaks into perfect harmony during Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, you get goosebumps.

Many thanks to my friends Shellye and Dean who made sure I was able to meet and talk to Jon at the end of the night. I don't always like talking to musicians I'm in awe of, sometimes I turn into Stan from South Park when he talks to Wendy, but Dean very innocently reminded me, "This isn't someone famous, it's Jon." As it turns out, Jon thinks Polaroids are pretty cool and was gracious enough to let me snap a quick portrait.

Quite a different experience from five years ago, wouldn't you say? If you're reading this post in a timely fashion, Jon Brion is performing tonight at City Winery. It's a late show, starting at 11, but if you can make it, you should definitely check it out. With audience members shouting requests and one musician bouncing around between instruments, I promise it will be unlike anything you've seen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Long Time, No Write

Well, hey there! How are you? How are the kids? Good, good. Happy to hear it. I'm fine, thanks. I took a bit of a break from blogging. In fact, I'm pretty sure some of my new friends don't even know I have a blog. Oh man, you guys are in for a treat. Before I get into an actual new post, I thought I would fill you in on what's been happening with me. I've been pretty active as far as photography is concerned, I just haven't felt like talking about it. It's not you, it's me.

First things first. Have you been over to my website lately? I did a soft redesign last year. By soft redesign, I mean everything was completely changed and I didn't tell anyone about it. I'm really happy with the result, so go check that out with this link here. I'll wait. Nice, right? And hey, updated head shots of me? I have the amazingly talented Jason from Dreamscape Studio to thank for that. Thanks, Jay!

So why have I been so quiet lately? In all honesty, I was going through a bit of a funk. There were a couple of big losses in my life and that really shook me up for a while. I'm not someone that easily shares my feelings, so when I'm down, I allow myself to feel it and take however much time is necessary until I get through it.

In June of last year, I lost a friend to suicide. It was tough and that's all that can be said about it. Mike was a person that to me, encompassed everything about my hometown. He was all that was good in Milford. He had a big heart and a big smile to match it. When I think of Jimmy Buffett concerts, I will always think of Mike dressing up as Margarita Man and running around the tailgating parking lot making friends.

In February, I lost another friend to cancer. I got to know John before making my decision to go to college at the University of Rhode Island. He was a music major and I was interested in joining the marching band at URI. I honestly don't think I would have gone to school there if not for John. We used to play pranks on each other: one time I broke into his dorm room and stole his wallet to order him a stuffed hula doll online. He retaliated by destroying my chalk board door. John was always ready to play a pick up game of basketball, he loved the Mets (poor sap), he gave the best hugs.

I didn't include these stories to bum you out, but I did want you to know a little bit about these incredible men and the impact they had on not only me, but all the people around them. And while those that knew them miss them every single day, we were truly blessed to have them in our lives, even if it was for such a brief period of time.

This didn't stop me from photographing all the little events that happened to my family over the year. Here are a few of my favorites:

My nephew, Abraham Lincoln

Ice Cream at the beach on the Fourth of July

Octopus cake for the eight year old

A first performance 

Continuing the family tradition of Christmas Cookies and teaching the next generation

I had the usual amount of portraits and increased the amount of weddings I normally shoot.

I played around with lots of film and several film cameras, using up stores of old expired film, red scale, multiple exposures. I even started taking my medium format camera to concerts.

I never thought my landscape photography was my strong suit, so I spent a decent amount of time working on those. You might see a couple of them in print this year.

And of course, there were concerts. I covered two musical festivals last year. While I was shooting from Gen. Pop. for Governor's Ball and was nearly crushed to death a couple of times, I was able to take pictures of a couple of musical heroes. My third year of covering the Gathering of the Vibes was an absolute blast. I knew my way around, I was familiar with the other photographers, and I was just comfortable. It makes working long days in the sun with pounds of gear strapped to your person a lot more enjoyable, trust me.

Governor's Ball

The Vibes

I traveled to Boston with my friend Sara to check out one of her favorite bands, The Old Ceremony and had a hilarious conversation with Django about New Haven pizza.

I finally covered Of Monsters and Men at Mohegan Sun, even with a bit of a snafu with my photo pass. They were such a blast.

And I covered one of my old favorites, the first musician I ever had in front of my lens as a concert photographer back in 2008, Ben Folds. There's something special when you've seen an artist enough times to be able to predict their movements and be in the right position at the exact perfect moment.

Wouldn't you know it, this moment lead to one of the coolest experiences of my year. Ben saw the photos and liked them so much that he reached out to me to let me know. I can't tell you how incredibly awesome that is and how much it means coming from someone who is a great photographer himself. If you're getting his email newsletter or if you follow him on social media, he's using one of my film photos as his header image.

I also had my first ever photo exhibit last September, which ate up a huge chunk of time. I had some fun lessons, like remembering to order mats slightly smaller than the size of the print, but all in all it was a great experience. I really didn't think my first photo exhibit would be for concert photography back when I started this blog years ago. I've come a long way and there's still more to do.

I wanted to do a bit of sharing and explaining because I have a new batch of photos to post later in the week, but I thought it would be slightly odd if I didn't have a quick catch up first. It might be that this concert helped me shed off the last of my funk, it might be that it was someone that I took pictures of five years ago when I was just trying to figure this thing out, it might be that reading that old post made me miss this space and sharing my photos with all of you. Maybe it's time.

Without further ado, I'm bringing it waaaaaaaaaaaay back to my signature shot: