Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of 2013: Concerts

Last year, I attended 20 shows which covered 23 bands. I was an official concert photographer for 12 of those. This year, I attended 25 shows which covered 60 bands. I only attended three of those as a fan. That is a huge jump and one that I am quite proud of. I like to include a shot of every band that I've shot in my year end review, but that meant I couldn't fit them all into one giant collage. Instead, I give you three. They are in no particular order, other than they worked best in my layout. I am honored and touched to have captured so many moments of musicians I admire. It's what I love to do and I hope I can continue to do it in the future.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of 2013: Polaroids

10. Clearing a Camera Jam

I really fell in love with Polaroids this year, so I decided to do a top ten list of them. I remember when I first walked into the NYC Impossible Project space after shooting a pack of PX Silver Shade with tons of questions as to the results I was getting. The employee told me to stick with it, that even though it can be frustrating as you learn how your camera will react, the results are worth it. Every time I bust out my SX-70, I receive smiles from those around me. People want to know about the camera, where I'm getting the film and they are always excited to see the results. I'm thrilled to be a part of the Impossible community online.

9. Whacamole

I was at an assignment for the newspaper in Monroe and brought along my SX-70 to take some long exposure shots. When I saw all the colors in this sign, I stopped and I was thrilled that they translated onto film.

8. Michael Bolton

I covered Bolton's book signing in Woodbridge this year and waited in line to get an autograph with my Polaroid camera. Even Michael Bolton was impressed with the camera. We had a short conversation about analogue and how some artists still like to record that way over digitial.

7. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Gathering of the Vibes

I've been trying to get a decent concert Polaroid for over a year now. The best result came when I covered something in the day time. In the middle of 30 photographers in the pit, people stopped when they heard the sound of a Polaroid ejecting. This was my first festival as a concert photographer and I really had a great time meeting other photographers and talking about shooting on a medium I love.

6. Velociraptor

I created my own filter for National Velociraptor Week and took shots of my friends posing with nothing. Many thanks to my friends that put up with me. This shot of Moe is my favorite of the 8 shots I took. Her line of sight is absolutely perfect!

5. Puddles Pity Party

As soon as I took this shot, I knew it was going to be one of the creepiest Polaroids I've ever taken. Puddles was the opening act for the Eels at Webster Hall. I don't normally use a flash at a concert, but when I saw this seven foot tall, creepy clown on stage, I knew I had to have a Polaroid of him. As the year has progressed, Puddles has been getting a lot of media coverage, so I'm really proud to have captured this shot before he became popular.

4. Carnival Wall

I took this picture on National Polaroid Day at the North Haven Fair. This was the outside decoration of a fun house. Again, the colors really pop and I had a blast taking pictures of the fair.

3. Ornament Self Portrait

I was taking a cover shot for the newspaper's holiday supplement and brought along my Polaroid to see what I could get. When I noticed my reflection in one of the ornaments, I set up my SX-70 on the tripod and did my best to hold a pose.

2. Pumpkins Carving Contest

This is actually about a 30 second exposure. It was taken at dusk, again with the camera on a tripod. I didn't expect it to take that long, but the depth of the colors absolutely amazes me. I definitely plan on doing some more photos at this time of day because I love the result.

1. Ferris Wheel

I love night photography, so why not combine that with film? I knew I had to trick my camera into getting the result I wanted. I placed my finger over the sensor, set the wheel to full dark and counted to 12 before moving my finger. What developed made me absolutely giddy; it's even better than I expected.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013: Pictures

In the past, I've kept this Best Of post at 12 pictures, but this year I couldn't seem to narrow it down. I shot a lot; my current count is well over 19,000 pictures for the year. My Best Of Pictures is an attempt to put together the highlights of my year. Is it just me, or did this year seem like it went on and on forever? There was a big increase on what I shot for the newspapers and I really shot a lot more nature stuff than I normally do. I did my best to refrain from concert photography in this post; those pictures get their own collage later in the week. 2013 had its share of adventures and I can't wait for what 2014 has in store.

From Left to Right, Top to Bottom:

1. Ben Thornwell of Jukebox the Ghost: This was a big moment for me as far as my concert photography goes. I attended the show as a fan with my DSLR. I'd gotten advice from another concert photographer that I admire; he told me to start bringing my camera with me to shows where the venue allowed it. I was at the front of the stage when another blogger showed up. We alternated spots during the show so we could both get usable shots. This turned out to be Adam from Surviving the Golden Age and I've been shooting with his blog ever since. Until this point, I felt like a concert photographer without a home. Thanks for giving me a place to call my own!

2. We got another addition to the family this year: Hannah. She's absolutely perfect and really completes that family. Welcome, Hannah, and you've got tons of pictures in your future!

3. Green Ride: This was an assignment for the newspaper. Thousands of bikers rode through multiple towns to raise funds for the families of Newtown. I'm from Connecticut and I've seen how it effected so many of the surrounding communities. I wanted to capture something special from this event, so I decided ahead of time to get a panning shot as the bikers passed by. I took probably close to 200 photos panning and this one came out perfect. The pop of color on the motorcyclists bandana and the flashing of the peace sign made it that much better. It is, by far, my favorite picture I've taken this year.

4. Stratford Answerbook Cover: I took over as the main cover photographer for the Eastern papers this year. This was my first Answerbook cover, and my favorite of the five towns I shot.

5. Carnival Ride: Night photography is one of my first passions. I was asked to cover a carnival in Monroe and I brought along my tripod to get some long exposure shots. They were a lot of fun on digital AND film.

6. Addy and her first Christmas Tree: My cat has never seen a Christmas tree before! I've always been afraid of her climbing it or attacking the ornaments, but she's been a perfect angel.

7. Danny Kavadlo: My trainer asked me to come take pictures of a workshop. The end result is my first publication in a book. Danny loved this shot so much, he used it in his book. Such an honor, thanks, Danny!

8. Christopher Walken: This happened the day after Hannah was born, so I was in a bit of a daze. I'd driven to New York and back, then ended up being the main still photographer while Walken spoke about his career in the town of Stratford. I was so nervous, I could barely speak to him.

9. Anna and Sara meet Robert Sledge: There is nothing better than meeting your internet friends! I was fortunate enough to meet a few of my friends for the first time this year and made more while out at shows. Sara, Anna and I met up to see the Last Summer on Earth tour in Philly, which would have been enough fun for me, but we got to meet Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five after the show. I can't wait to do it again, ladies!

10. Michael Bolton: FINALLY! For those of you that know me, I've been trying to photograph Mr. Bolton for a long time. The best explanation I can give you is that Michael Bolton has been my El Guapo and I've finally faced that.

11. Grace 12. Hannah 13. Aria 14. James These are my nieces and nephew and I love how they each have their own strong personalities. I'm so lucky to be able to capture that as they grow.

15. Meagher Family Portraits: I've been doing these for about five years now and I finally convinced the gang to head outside! We were lucky with the warm weather and man, do the pictures rock this year!

16. Ladybug: I was out searching for a cover shot for the Trumbull Answerbook and stumbled across this. I was trying to frame up a picture of the town hall with wildflowers and just happened to look down. Although this wouldn't work for the cover, it's a great picture and really taught me to notice the little things.

17. Fall Foliage: I didn't get out and get the wide shots I wanted to this year, but I found a couple of lovely details along the way.

18. Botanical Garden, NY: My brother and sister in law asked me to take pictures at the Botanical Garden to use as a wedding gift for their friends. Please! Me and flower details? Sign me up!

19. Spanish Moss, Jekyll Island: I took another vacation this year and headed back to Jekyll Island. I brought along minimal equipment, which forced me to use a lens that really hadn't been a part of my arsenal before, my 35-350mm 5.6 lens. It's a beast and weighs a ton, but it was pretty sweet to be able to travel with one lens and get all the shots I wanted.

20. Luke: I dog sat for friends a couple of times this year. Although I'm a cat person now, I grew up with dogs. Sometimes it's fun to just run around in the yard, playing ball with a dog. Luke has such a personality to him and this wide angle shot cracks me up. Big huge nose and tiny little feet!

21. Millionaires Village, Jekyll Island: I spent more time photographing the architecture on the island this year. My eye has definitely changed as a result of all the Answerbook photography I've done. That's a straight up post card shot.

22.  Me and Ray Cycle: How often do you get the chance to photograph a super hero from your childhood? Chris Rowlands, AKA Ray Cycle, used to tour the grammar schools in Connecticut when I was growing up, teaching kids about recycling. I found out Chris was playing at the Nature Center in Ansonia this year, so I went to photograph it, of course! I rarely take pictures with people; I prefer to be the one behind the camera, but I absolutely had to have a picture with Ray Cycle.

23. Stratford Fireworks: I haven't taken serious fireworks pictures in about seven or eight years. I don't always want to lug my tripod and big lenses down to the beach, where they can get damaged with the sand and passersby. I got some great long exposure shots with a ton of color. These are always fun and I really need to do them every year.

24. My Triumphant Return to Graduation Photography: Another huge milestone for me. Back in 2006, I was accosted at the end of the Foran High School graduation that I was covering for the paper. The assistant to the principal was none too pleased with me doing my job even though I checked with security and they allowed me onto the field. She said some ridiculous things to me and emailed my editor, referring to me as the "Photographer in the Green Shirt". It was a bizarre experience that's stuck with me for many years. My personal facebook icon has always been and always will be a bright green box because I joined shortly after this happened. It still makes me chuckle to this day. I agreed to cover Monroe High School's graduation this year after making sure there would not be another incident. I dressed in khakis and a black shirt, but I threw in my bright green shoes as a throwback to the last graduation. As I waited for the graduates to come down to the field, I snapped this picture with my cell phone to mark the occasion. I came this close to changing my facebook profile picture, but why mess with a good thing?

Although there have been several growths in my photography, I lost someone that influenced me a great deal this year. Wayne Ratzenberger was a photographer whose work was seen by just about everybody that lived in Connecticut over the years. I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with Wayne at Hometown Publications and then with Hersam Acorn and I learned so much from him. He had an amazing ability to capture a person's personality and it is something I aspire to. Wayne was always willing to give advice and go over techniques. He always made sure to tell me when he was impressed with my work, which was the highest form of praise I could every ask for. I've included one of my favorite shots of Wayne's. It's bold and striking and something I never would have thought to capture at a press conference. I'd like to think that my work has become better as a result of Wayne's influence, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Best of 2013: fr EYE day

Welcome to fr EYE day, which also happens to kick off the beginning of my best of week! Take a moment to cycle through all the beautiful eyes I've captured this year. Can you find yours? No? Maybe you will next year!

The posts will be coming every day until the end of the year, so check back often!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Happy!

Just a quick wish that you and yours have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

(shot on Impossible Project new SX-70 Color Film, tripod used, no flash)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Erin McKeown at Littlefield 12.05.13

My last concert of the year was eventful on several levels. There are times when your concert companions are just as special as the musician you are seeing. For me, I was able to reconnect with a friend from the former Milford Camera Shop, Dave. The first concert we ever saw together was Erin McKeown at the Iron Horse in North Hampton, Massachusetts back in 2001. A few weeks later, we went back to the same venue and saw Three Song Circus, which was Erin along with Jian Ghomeshi from Moxy Fruvuous and Andy Stochansky. The three musicians hopped around between instruments and traded lead vocals on songs. To this day, it is one of my favorite concerts of all time. To be able to see Erin again, more than a decade later, was enough to get me to trek into the city, to be able to photograph it was a bonus and to be able to take part in the second set? What an unforgettable experience.

Erin came out for the first set alone on stage and played songs from her entire catalog. The audience sat crossed leg on the cement floor, cheering and clapping along to each song. Erin was an absolute riot on stage. She introduced songs and gave us a back story to them. She teased her fans when the clapping died down by starting a song and then stopping abruptly; explaining that's how it felt to her when the clapping stopped. She can hold down a stage all by herself and is an amazing guitarist. Throughout her set, she was all smiles. I was able to move around the stage without intruding which is always nice.

After about 40 minutes, there was a short break. The Grumpy Chorus gathered by the stage, ready to take part in the second half of the show: The Anti Holiday Spectacular. Ten fans, myself and Dave included, were instructed to don our ugly Christmas sweaters and look generally annoyed and unimpressed as we sang back up to Erin. Ten people who had never met before let alone practiced, were given hymnals and silly hats and took the stage. There are few things that will cause me to put down my camera, but the opportunity to share a stage with an artist I adore along with one of my oldest friends was one of them. Let me just tell you, those stage lights are hot on their own, now imagine yourself in an ugly Christmas sweater on top of it! I did happen to come across a picture of the Grump Chorus, just to prove that I really was on stage.


Thankfully, there is also a video of one of our songs as well. I look beyond grumpy on stage, but I assure you, I was absolutely thrilled to be there. I had to force myself not to grin like an idiot as I looked across the stage at Erin playing. It was beyond a fun night and I couldn't have asked for a better end to the year of shooting concerts.

I was able to snap a few pictures of Grumpy Chorus members with Erin at the end of the show.

Notice that L.E.D strand of lights? You probably think, big deal, red, white and green lights. Well, let me show you something absolutely incredible. I set my camera on the stage and took a long exposure. Those lights are actually fluctuating in a pattern that spells out the name of Erin's Christmas album. My mind still can't wrap itself around the result.

And of course, a picture of Dave, Erin and myself. Thanks to Dave for letting me know about the show and to Erin for being gracious enough to let me snap a few pictures and take part in the show. It's something I'll never forget. Dave and I are still going to push for a Three Song Circus reunion in 2014!

Lastly, I leave you with, well, you know the drill...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Erin McKeown Teaser

I'm working furiously to get the review for this show done, but for now, enjoy some shoes and festive decorations.

Friday, December 20, 2013

fr EYE day

happy fr EYE day! eye've really been working at improving the quality of darker eyes. eye totally dig the flower pattern in this one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Royal Concept and American Authors at Brighton Music Hall 11.22.13

This show was a bit of an adventure. My day job had a crazy schedule leading up to Thanksgiving where we combined three days of work into one. I high tailed it up to Boston and still made it in time for the show. I'm always excited when I get to shoot in a different venue and get to think on the fly. There was no photo pit at Brighton and since I arrived about 20 minutes before The Royal Concept took the stage, I couldn't get a spot in the front. I tried to shoot through the crowd about four people back for the first couple of songs, then moved on to different angles. What was great about The Royal Concept is that they move around the stage. Lead singer David Larson moved back to the drum kit several times during the show and I found an interesting view from the side of the stage. Both Larson and bassist Robert Magnus took advantage of the platforms on the front of the stage to the cheers of the crowd. I really enjoyed being able to capture the energy of the auidence in a few of the shots.

The Royal Concept

American Authors

The lights came up a bit more for the headliners, American Authors. I breathed a sigh of relief because I was able to take my camera off my highest ISO setting. Even thought I wasn't a particular fan of the music, I was able to get some sweet shots. Above is my favorite of lead singer Zachary Barnett. I also love the intensity coming from bassist Dave Rublin. There's a trend in music to overuse banjo and mandolin, thanks to the popularity of Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers. I'm more of a fan of bands that excel at the use of these instruments, like the Punch Brothers do. Plinking away on a mandolin or banjo just to vary your instrumentation doesn't quite do it for me, but at least guitarist/banjo/mandolinist James Shelley has fun while doing it. For these shots, I found a clear line of sight to the stage about 20 people back with my telephoto lens. While it isn't great for band shots, I got some nice individual portraits.

I'd compare Brighton Music Hall to Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, with slightly better line of sight to the stage. The lighting was decent to work with, not ideal, but I've definitely dealt with worse. I was amused by The Royal Concept; near the end of their set, they complained that the lights were too low and that they couldn't see the audience. Thanks, guys, I just wish you had asked for that earlier!