Task 1: DISCOVERY
My idea was to do Event Photography. This is the definition of event photography:
“Very basically, an event photographer specializes in capturing pictures of events. How you define an “event” is entirely up to you. Some people would consider weddings, concerts, and sports as part of the event photography definition, and in a broad sense, they’re right. But if you focus on weddings or sports, brand yourself as such as a photographer. In industry terms, a self-described event photographer is generally associated with corporate events.” (Pratt and Pratt, 2017)
To be specific, I will be doing band and/sports photography.
Why I decided to to do Event Photography:
I decided to do Event Photography because after college I would love to do events like concerts, plays, etc. I have had minor experience in event photography by taking photographs at festivals and taking photos of people acting. For years I have wanted to be able to travel and take photographs of the things I enjoy (concerts, wrestling,etc). Whether it be taking photographs for bands, plays or sports entertainment I want to do it.
I want my photographs to show people performing. I want the photographs to be both black and white and colour as to see which type of photography I prefer and what fits what environment. I will use both film and digital for the black and white photos as I want to see which ones aesthetically appeal to me. My photographs will not be staged or directed and I will not be that bothered if the photographs have a little bit of blur or noise as these features can make the photographs seem like they are not staged and they can give the people in the images a sense of movement. Technically these features are bad and not wanted in a photograph as no one really wants to see noise or blur in a photo but in this context it could work.
People take photos of concerts and sporting events all the time and upload them to social media, like Instagram, and I want to make it as a profession. You can see these types of photographs everywhere. For instance; magazines like Rolling Stone, Autobiographies like A Lions Tale By Chris Jericho, Instagram, etc. Through fan bases and social media these photographs can be seen worldwide, this could make it so agencies want to hire me.
Doing this type of photography will extend my knowledge and photography skills as not only will it get me to take more photos of people but it will also get me more used to different types of lighting and environments. This will be an exciting challenge for me.
The struggles I have with this sort of photography is that all the photos that I will take could either have terrible lighting or could have too much noise/blur. In order to achieve an image that is good to me I will have to master lighting, composition and film photography (as I will be trying to use historical and contemporary techniques). Lighting and composition are two of the basics you need to learn in the photography but the environment I will be in will challenge my skills.
Historical and Contemporary
Historical photographs are photographs from an earlier time period (ideally 30+ years before current time).
Contemporary photography is:
‘Contemporary photography could be described as a photograph from our own time, compared to an image from a much earlier period. A relevant definition of the word contemporary is: “happening in the same period of time..of or in the style of the present or recent times… .'(Koslov, 2017)
- Ann Buster- does photography for bands like Asking Alexandria and the majority of her photos have vibrant colours. (C)
- Jerry Schatzberg- only has photos of Jimi Hendrix performing
- Bob Gruen- look at led Zeppelin and Kiss
- Charles Peterson- Nirvana
I have some minor experience in this field of photography as I have managed to go to a small festival (Farmyard, a bikers rally) and there was a band (Oliver/Dawson Saxon) and I took photos mainly of Haydn Conway (below). Oliver and Dawson were part of the metal band Saxon and then when they left they made their own (Oliver/Dawson) Saxon band.
Here are my questions:
- How did you get into taking photos for people such as?*
- What got you into taking photos of such personalities?
- What equipment did you use whilst taking photos of bands/artists on stage?
- Do you prefer to use colour or black and white when taking photos of people on stage? Did you have the options to use either?
- What advice would you give to a person who wants to do live band photography?
*Every photographer has photographs of different bands
Ann Buster is a contemporary Band photographer who works for Kerrang! and I first noticed a few years ago. I sent her, and the other photographers, an email to see whether they would answer some questions (above).
The email I sent:
I am doing a college project (photography) and I was wondering whether you would be able to answer some questions I have about band (live) photography over email as I have been a fan of your work for years. This will further my research and help me improve my work.
So far, Ann has not replied to my email.
Her work is mainly of heavy metal bands such as Asking Alexandria and Slipknot. A lot of her photographs are in colour and a few are in black and white. The photo I looked at (below) is of a guitarist (Ben Bruce, Asking Alexandria).
The lights are very strong and vibrant- the deep fuchsia and green compliment each other and give a sense of depth. As the colour makes a haze it makes the guitarist look more in focus and his black shirt seems to grab the pink lighting and his skin seems to grab the green lighting. This could be due to the neon as that can light up a persons face. Green and Pink are opposite colours on the colour wheel so they actually compliment each other very well, the reason they look so good together is because of the black in the guitarist’s clothes- it breaks up the colours slightly so it isn’t just a barrage of colour. The shine in the white guitar and metal mic stands make it so you have different focal points (which can gain attention but are not distracting from the rest of image) and also gives more depth to the image. The green helps as a highlighter for his skin and black shirt thus making shadows and depth- this is not as harsh a white light but not as soft as a yellow light. The centre of the light is more of a yellow colour so it has warm tones but as it goes into the green the tones turn cooler whereas the Fuchsia goes from cool tones into warmer tones.
The light makes strong lines in the image and because of this there are more shadows. Part of the light is blocked from Ben and because of the blocking of light it makes him the main focal point of the image. There is no symmetry in the image and this makes the photo look less staged. With the light just covering about two thirds of the image it makes the lighting more natural and less like a background has been copied and pasted in to the image. The only textures in the photo in are his hair and the lights hitting the fog/smoke machine. The light and smoke is quite soft where as his hair, even though looks soft like the light, can look quite harsh due to it being wet. The depth of field is quite shallow as Ben is quite close to the foreground.
Bob Gruen was born in New York, 1945 and is an author and photographer. By the mid 1970s he was well known in the rock industry for his photographs. He lived with a rock band during the 60s and when they got a contract the company used his photos, because of this, the company hired him to take photographs of other bands. This caused a snowballing effect where he got more and more jobs from this.
When he first started out he started with a Minolta camera (which was his fathers) which shot with 35mm film. In the first few years of the seventies he used Nikon F cameras and then used the Olympus Om series in 1975 and in 1990 he went into using Canon cameras and have used them ever since. In 2000 he started using digital Canon cameras and hasn’t looked back. As he was shooting to pay his bills he shot both in colour and black and white as then his photos had more of selling due to being available for different markets. This was a ‘financial decision… not an artistic one’. I asked all the photographers what advice they could give to a photographer who wanted to get into that sort of photography. He said that you should take as many photos as you can and only show the good ones. Try and meet the band.
The photo above is of Paul Stanley, from, Kiss. With the guitar being a glossy black and it having light on it it means that his white face paint and red lipstick reflect. The photograph is quite simple even though it is quite chaotic to the viewer. The guitar is blurry and so is his hand, his face however, isn’t. With the foreground unfocused, it makes all the mid ground clearer- apart from the hand that is pointing to the viewer. The hand being a main focus but being blurry makes it so you immediately look behind it to Paul’s face- the hand is blurry because of the depth of field. There are only four colours in the image and not a lot of shades- this makes it so the colours contrast. His dark brown hair, black glove and his black guitar frame his painted face and because his face is so white it makes the focal point of the image his face. His face paint is quite striking and the reflection in the guitar (and it is only the bottom half of his face reflected) is actually more in focus than his own face. There isn’t a lot of shadow in the image, in fact it is over-exposed, so when there is shadow it is subtle. The main shadow is the contour of his cheek, the reflection and, his shoulder (this is because his hair blocks some light, thus causing a shadow).
Charles Peterson got into taking photographs of bands because of his dual interest in photography. With going to the University of Washington he met people like Mark Arm and Bruce Pavitt. With the scene being small, but ambitious, he started photographing it. This made is so when Bruce started his band (Sub Pop) Charles was their house photographer. When Nirvana came onto the scene he pretty much straight away started to take their photographs. When he first started he used Nikon cameras (usually with a 24mm lens and Vivitar 285 flash) and an extra battery pack. Now he uses digital cameras like Leica and Nikon.He preferred black and white as it was cheaper to do processing and printing, it often fit the subject more and it was ‘more forgiving of mistakes’. Colour was sometimes needed but it never had the same impact as black and white.
This was the advice he game for a person who wants to do live band photography:
‘Try and find something new to do with the genre. Find a visual niche and stick with it – it’s the only way to stick out form the pack. Always look behind you and bend your knees (in other words, think outside the box and keep going for new angles). Try and stick to a few bands to begin with – once you know their stage presence it’s easier to start getting better and different stuff the more you work with them.’
Above is a photo of Kurt Cobain on stage that he took. The first third of the image (the foreground) is just the stage floor, which is negative space, but this helps the photographs story. The wires and tape on the stage makes it so you know where the photo is taking place. It also helps the viewer focus on Kurt. The area where Kurt is, is quite chaotic as he is sprawled across a drum kit. The cymbal and mic stand being on the floor suggests that he stumbled/tripped backwards, perhaps because of the wires- there is no tape over the wires so this could be possible. This image is a perfect example of what I want to get as it is raw.
Bands I looked at
Questions I sent them
1. How did you get into taking photos for people such as?*
2. What got you into taking photos of such personalities?
3. What equipment did you use whilst taking photos of the wrestlers on stage?
4. Do you prefer to use colour or black and white when taking photos of people on stage? Do you have the options to use either?
5. What advice would you give to a person who wants to do live event photography?
*Every photographer has photographs of different wrestlers/promotions
Oli Sandler, born in London, got into taking photos of people like Aj Styles and Jimmy Havoc (in the photographs below) by just being able to work on the shows they were booked in and having a love for wrestling and photography. Oli is a contemporary photographer as he started working full time in the event/portraiture industry in 2013. equipment he uses are a Nikon d750 with a 24-70, two speedlight with softboxes and triggers. Oli usually does colour photography but will use black and white as it ‘depends on the style and mood’ and ‘has its moments’.
This was the advice he gave for photographers who want to do this sort of photography:
‘Work really hard, don’t ever expect payment but also don’t give work out for free. Be passionate and do your research. Nobody wants to work with somebody who’s ill informed. Be professional but also personable. Relax enough to be comfortable but don’t be so relaxed you make other people uncomfortable. Learn from working with somebody.’ (emailed to me)
Below there are two photographs from his website:
The photo above is a portrait of Aj Styles- who is in his ring gear and wearing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Aj is slightly off centre because of his stance and this makes the image more interesting. Half of the Championship is covered up by his jacket and is also slightly off centre (this could be because of his stance), this could go against the image but the jacket is a part of his gimmick. He has positioned his hands so that his gloves read ‘Bullet Club’, which is the stable he is in, and to the casual viewer this could intrigue them and make them think (What is the bullet club? What does it mean?) whereas a wrestling fan will understand that the Bullet Club is in fact, a group of Heel wrestlers primarily based in Japan.
There is not a lot of shadow in the image but it is quite important as without the shadow the image would be very bland and wouldn’t catch attention at all. The shadow gives slight definition to his muscles, this makes it so he doesn’t look fake.
The photo above is of a wrestler, Jimmy Havoc, on the outer edge of the ring. The photograph works well being black and white as it suits Jimmy’s character. The core audience will know that Jimmy havoc is into extreme wrestling and his character is quite dark. Oli had to convey that through his photography. The black and white image gives a more gritty tone, especially as the photo has more shades of grey than white- it has atmosphere. It shows the people in the background but the viewer can only just see them and this makes it so Jimmy is the main focus, the only other person that really stands out to me is the referee as the light is on him and he is wearing quite a bit of white (which stands out in the black and white photograph). Even though this could have been a pure coincidence it can also show the importance of the referees role in the event.
Rob Brazier, based in East London, is a photographer who specialises in portraiture and event photography. He enjoys using natural light and most of his images are candid and spontaneous. According to his website (http://robbrazierphoto.com/) he uses a ‘Nikon D700, mostly using either a 50mm f1.4 or 24-70mm 2.8, both Nikon’.
The background is blurry as the camera has focused onto the two men, who are more to the left of the image. This creates a lot of negative space in photograph but this works as it gives the wrestlers more of a fluid movement and without the negative space the photograph would be more squashed. The image has quite a lot of shadowing on the wrestlers which also helps with the movement. The downside of the shadowing is that you can’t see the distinctive colours/logos of the wrestlers which people who aren’t that familiar with the wrestlers could be confused as to who they are.
- Koslov, G. (2017). What is Contemporary Photography? | Foto Relevance LLC. [online] Foto Relevance LLC. Available at: https://fotorelevance.com/what-is-contemporary-photography/ [Accessed 14 Sep. 2017].
- Pratt, S. and Pratt, S. (2017). Event Photography 101: What is Event Photography? – Intrepid Freelancer. [online] Intrepid Freelancer. Available at: http://blog.suzi-pratt.com/event-photography-101-what-is-event-photography/ [Accessed 13 Sep. 2017].