Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best of 2012: Concert Photography

I'm going to sit here a moment and appreciate this collage....Ok, I'm good.

You probably all know by now that concert photography is my passion. I set a goal for myself to go to at least one concert each month this year. I've chosen one photo from every concert I attended to make up this collage. (There is one exception, but that's only because Michael Bolton canceled his show in Trumbull in September and left me with an extra spot.) I'm so proud of the fact that 14 of these images were shot with my DSLR. I never would have thought at the beginning of the year that I would cover so many concerts in an official capacity. Being able to do what I love has brought me so much joy throughout the year and has pushed me to do more than I ever thought possible.

In no particular order, other than it worked for my layout:

1. Wally De Backer of Gotye at House of Blues Boston, March
I've been taking my point and shoot camera with me to every concert I've attended since 2010. It was the only way for me to learn and expand my concert photography without access to a press pass. While the point and shoot doesn't get me the best results all the time, I know what it can do. I can still document the moments I see and it gave me a way in.

2. Aimee Mann at Ridgefield Playhouse, January
My first concert of the year and first time attending a concert at the Playhouse. It is such a small, intimate venue. I've been a fan of her music for years, especially her collaborations with other artists. There was plenty of sarcastic banter with the audience throughout the night.

3. Niki Crawford of Orgone at Fairfield Stage One, July
The first concert I shot with my Canon 5D Mark III for a feature in the Fairfield Sun on Stage One. Orgone was one of the largest bands I shot this year with multiple percussionists and a horn trio that rocked the house. It was such a fun atmosphere with the crowd dancing the entire night.

4. Eytan Oren of Eytan and the Embassy at The Studio at Webster Hall, October
Part of the CMJ Music Festival, The Studio at Webster Hall was my biggest lighting challenge of the year. I pushed my camera to its limits and even though I struggled at the time, my training of just keep shooting kicked in. With a little post processing love, I eeked out a handful of keepers.

5. The English Beat at Fairfield Stage One, July
The final band I shot for the Fairfield Sun feature. This was a challenge for me because I didn't particularly like the style of music. I know that I'm going to be faced with this situation more often than not, so I was really pleased that I could still capture dynamic images even when I wasn't feeling it.

6. Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five at The Capitol Theatre, October
Remember that time when I shot Ben Folds Five? Oh you don't? That's because we're still working on the feature for the paper. Up until this point, I've held off on posting any of the pictures, but I made an exception for Best Of week.

7. Ben Folds Five at Summer Stage, September
I couldn't get clearance to cover this concert officially, so I attended it as a fan with my point and shoot camera. It was so wonderful to see Ben, Darren and Robert reunite after a decade apart. Everything I loved about this band in the 90's was still there and it was a joy to remember why I was and still am so fond of them.

8. The Punch Brothers at Town Hall, April
This concert was one of the most memorable for the year for me. I wasn't completely familiar with their music, but I knew they had collaborated with several artists I adore. Chris Thile took the stage with the hugest smile on his face and danced around with such boundless energy. The entire band is so ridiculously talented. I can't find the proper words to express how amazing it is to watch virtuosos on stage feed off of each other so effortlessly.

9. Tim Nordwind of The Pyyramids at The Knitting Factory, September
The Pyyramids opened for Eytan and the Embassy. My friends that go to shows with me know that I get super antsy and want to arrive as early as possible. It's a result of being in gen pop for so many concerts and wanting to get a decent angle to shoot from. I still do this even when there is a photo pit. Every so often, you catch an amazing opening act as an added bonus.

10. Kate Miller-Heidke at The Capitol Theatre, October
Keir and Kate are an amazing duo on stage; just a guitar, a tambourine and a voice that is out of this world. They are able to convey so much emotion and power. The first time I saw them live was in 2010 when they opened for Ben Folds. It was incredibly fitting to photograph them again, this time opening for Ben Folds Five.

11. Yeasayer at The Capitol Theatre, November
I had to transition back into a regular concert goer for this show, after covering the last five concerts I attended. With the help of good friends and a stunning light show, I still had a great time. This was my second concert at the newly renovated Capitol Theatre and I have to say, it was the perfect venue for this band.

12. Ben Edgar of Gotye at Williamsburg Park, September
My second Gotye concert as an official photographer. I had an absolute blast being the only photographer in the pit after the first three songs and was able to capture so many fun moments. It's not easy getting a clear shot of everyone on stage when you only have three songs to photograph and I love giving each band member equal coverage

13. Darren Jessee of Hotel Lights at Spike Hill, April
Hotel Lights is one of my favorite bands and I've been incredibly fortunate to cover them a couple of times. It was so much fun seeing Darren really get into the music this time around. It was even more fun for me to having a fully functioning camera again and a venue that had good light so I didn't have to convert the majority of my images to black and white.

14. William Shatner at The Music Box, February
While this show was mostly a stand up routine, The Shat did sing one song at the end of the set, so I'm considering it a concert. I can now say that I've seen William Shatner on Broadway!

15. Keane at The Beacon Theatre, June
This was such a fun, energetic concert. The crowd was singing along the entire night. Tom's voice was just as powerful live as it is on their albums. I had so much fun at this concert, I'm going to see them again next year at Radio City.

16. String Fingers Band at Fairfield Stage One, July
A bonus opening act that I covered for the Fairfield Sun. It makes me happy to see a couple of local boys in a bluegrass band get just as much recognition as anyone I covered this year.

17. Eytan and the Embassy at The Knitting Factory, September
At one of my lowest points this year, I took a chance and reached out to a young band that I really do believe are going to break through next year. They allowed me to cover their concert when other people had denied me and it really helped boost my confidence. Their photos are some of my favorites for that fact alone.

18. Punch Brothers at Clearwater Festival, June
My first festival taught me what I had suspected: I do not like festivals. The bands play a shortened set so you don't get a good feel for them, you have to pick and choose who you'll see and you get stuck pretty far away unless you camp out all day. 

19. Sage at the Bridgeport Green, August
I almost failed my goal in the month of August. I caught this four piece all female band at the last minute and snapped a few pictures. Thanks to my friends for forcing me out even though I was in a rotten mood. A good concert was just what the doctor ordered.

20. Noam Pikelny and Chris Eldridge at Fairfield Stage One, July
After seeing the Punch Brothers twice, I was determined to get my real camera into a show. Pickles and Critter were the reason I wanted to cover shows for the Fairfield Sun and I'm really proud that I found a way to make that happen. You can tell just how much they love what they're doing and how much I love being able to capture that.

21. Jess McAvoy at the Bitter End, December
My last concert of the year and the perfect conclusion to an amazing year. I went into this show completely relaxed and confident that I'd get great shots. For so many of the concerts I covered this year, I was a nervous wreck moments before the bands took the stage. While I don't mind the anxiety all that much, I know it's a result of how I care about what I do, it's so much nicer to be able to enjoy it from start to finish. 

22. Ben Folds Five at The Capitol Theatre, October
I have wanted to cover Ben Folds Five ever since I saw them when I was 18 years old. I did so much leg work to make this happen; I remember biting my nails the day of the concert as I waited for the official confirmation from their tour manager. I hope to share the full set with you soon, the article is being worked on as I type, but know it was an amazing experience to photograph three men that I think the world of.

23. Andrew Bird at The Beacon Theatre, May
I had such a blast with my friends in the city before this concert and Andrew Bird was incredible as well. I listen to a pretty wide range of musical styles; I feel like it's important to mix things up to keep them interesting. Of all the concerts I attended this year, this was the most formal; everyone sat the entire show and there was practically no talking.

24. Wally De Backer of Gotye at Radio City Music Hall, September
I started this collage with a picture of Wally during The Only Way and I end it with the same picture, six months apart. My nerves finally settled when I heard the opening bass line of this song. I was photographing the same song that got me into Radio City with my DSLR. If ever I wanted to show the amount of growth I made in one year, just look at these two pictures.

I couldn't have taken the majority of these pictures without the generosity and kindness of the musicians. A huge thank you to: Wally, Eytan, Dru, Darren and Jess, whom I had the pleasure of speaking to directly. I have to also thank my editors at Hersam Acorn Newspapers who I worked alongside to cover an additional four concerts: John, Sally and Josh.

I was touched by all the comments my photos have received throughout the year. It always makes me happy when people get the way that I shoot. My absolute favorite came from a fan that told me they could hear the music as they looked at my images. That's exactly what I was going for! I really hope I can continue to bring you more concert photography in 2013!

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