Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last Summer on Earth at Mohegan Sun: Ben Folds Five

I was very excited to photograph Ben Folds Five for the second time. They are one of my favorite bands and one I'm very emotionally attached to. Growing up, I can remember wanting to photograph them so badly. To be able to live that dream not once, but twice, is beyond amazing. The pit was much larger than at the Capitol Theatre, so I was be able to move around and get plenty of different angles. While the rest of the pack of photographers set up directly in front of Ben's piano, I stuck to Robert's side of the stage. I fully expected them to play the same set that they did in Philly the night before. Unfortunately, they changed it up and opened with Missing the War. What was bad about this is that Ben opens the song alone on piano. With only three songs to shoot, I pretty much stood around for a solid minute, completely out of position. I told myself to wait it out because the other photographers would move and I'd get the shots I needed. Not even a year ago, I would've been rattled by this, but I've become a much more confident and calm photographer.

Piano players are hard to shoot in general and Ben Folds Five are even harder. Ben's piano blocks your line of sight of the other members and Darren does a real good job of blocking his face from both sides with cymbals. It's best to shoot them from farther back if you want a full band shot, but often times that isn't an option when you're in the pit. I stood as far to the right and left of the stage as I was allowed to go and just rolled with it.

What's great about shooting a band that your familiar with is that you know how they move. Ben always turns to greet the fans at the end of his songs. I made my way back to the front and framed him perfectly with the LED lights spelling out his name. I finally got the detail of Ben playing the piano I've always wanted, I got some decent shots of Robert rocking out, and Darren, well, he looked pretty grumpy the majority of the three songs I was allowed to shoot, but I made the best of it. Overall, their set was riddled with slower songs, their banter was minimal and quite frankly, it seemed like they didn't want to be there. When I saw them live for the first time after they reformed in Central Park, there was excitement. Even at the Capitol, the band was having fun. This particular night, they were off, but hopefully you can't tell from the pictures. As I said before, I'm happy to be there shooting this band, even when they aren't on the top of their game.

I leave you with shoes. Ben really walks on the outside of his heels, doesn't he?


  1. Hey Audra, awesome photos! I'm a friend of your brother's and just wondering if you could give me some advice on how to get known as a concert photographer (and get press access of course) to build my portfolio

  2. Hi there! Glad you like the pictures! I'm still figuring out how to really get known as a concert photographer, but I'm happy to share what I've learned to this point. It's been mostly trial and error on my part. I started bringing along my point and shoot to concerts because I didn't have a press pass. When I got a shot that stood out to me, I would forward it along to the band. Most bands these days are active on their websites and social media and general email addresses can be found on their websites. I recommend starting out with more local shows at smaller venues. Find out what the photo policy is for the venue. If they let you, bring along your SLR. I reached out to a lot of smaller bands before hand to make sure it was cool with them. Most times, they are very receptive and don't mind at all. That will get you a good jump our building a portfolio. Also, search online for a local website that does concert reviews. I ran into a blogger at a show and shoot for him as well now. Look for PR people to reach out to for each band. Just remember, you might get lots of No's before someone says Yes, but don't let it get you down. All it takes is one generous person. I hope this helps. Good luck!