Wow! Its been over a month since my last post, I never intended to take so long with the next! Since my last entry I have shot over 30 Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness shows! That's hard for me to imagine, but cruising through my Lightroom catalog certainly makes it easier. I have thousands of pictures of Andrew and the band, both on and off stage! On top of those I also have countless pictures of the crew I work with, as well as friends and family I've gotten to catch up with along the way! Taking lots of photos means lots of post work for me, so I've had to develop an efficient and consistent workflow to keep on top of all my tasks. I've also had to shift my priorities, and unfortunately keeping up with new journal entries has slipped down my list for now. When I'm not on stage setting up and maintaining all of the bands gear, I am in a dressing room picking and editing photos for Andrew and his management. I take anywhere from 75 to 300 photos per day, so I've learned just how easy it is to fall behind and also how difficult it is to catch up when I have stage responsibilities requiring my time as well. Between my time working on stage and photo work I barley get to do much else throughout the day!
One priority that is very important to me though, is taking the time to visit with lots of close friends and family when our tour comes through their city. Having the opportunity to spend time with the people I love in all corners of the country is one of my favorite parts of any tour. Here a some of my favorite shots of family and friends from the past month.
After about two weeks of shooting Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness on the Weezer and Panic at the Disco tour I started falling into a groove while shooting the set. I learned where to be to get the shots I was looking for because I became better able to predict where Andrew would jump off a riser for instance. I also quickly realized that there are only so many positions I can shoot from on our stage, so one of the bigger challenges I face is making sure my pictures don't all look the same. One of my favorite shooting compositions is filling the frame with Andrew, perpendicular to his piano. Here's an example.
I shot the left picture in Virginia Beach, June 22. I shot the right picture three weeks later in Tinley Park, Illinois. They look like the same picture! This forced me to figure out how to create images that are fresh and new with the limited shooting positions available to me. I started favoring similar compositions from different sides.
I began shooting from the opposite side of the piano, up on stage more often. This way the background is always different. This enables me to get the symmetric shots I like, but the vibe of the picture changes because the background varies so much. I also love capturing the crowds in my shots. The downside of shooting from this position is if I can see the crowd, they can see me too. This is a tough spot to shoot from while maintaining stealthiness, so I try to be in and out of this position quickly.
The Weezer and Panic at the Disco tour has a day off about every three shows. On many of the off days we have or own shows, either outdoor summer festivals, or headlining in smaller clubs. These shows are particularly fun for me because they offer all sorts of picture opportunities and various freedoms that I don't get during our opening slot on the Weezer and Panic at the Disco tour. Things also tend to get a little more wild because they are Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness shows, meaning the sets are longer, the fans are primarily Andrew's, and the smaller clubs are always more intimate. The shows being in our control also allows me to comfortably use my flash, which is generally frowned upon in most live music photography situations.
This is my camera and wireless flash kit. The camera is a Fujifilm X100T. I have taken every picture on this website with this camera, and it might as well be permanently attached to my right hand at this point. It has a fixed prime 35mm equivalent lens, which I believe has aided me in defining my own stylistic approach to shooting live bands so far. Most other photographers I see in the field use large zoom lenses, even when they are in the pit at the lip of the stage, often less than ten feet from their subject. When scoping out other photographers pictures of the tour I see lots of close up shots, and less full body shots. With my camera its difficult to get head shots, unless I'm very close to the subject. Most of my shots tend to be full body, which I have come to really enjoy. I also really like the natural perspective that the 35mm lens adds to my pictures, it feels closer to real life than a large zoom that compresses the background so much that an image seems surreal. The X100T is also seriously tiny compared to an SLR with a lens! I sling it around my back when I need to run on stage to tend to something and it stays out of my way until I need it again. Also the dynamic range this camera is capable of never ceases to blow my mind! It seems closer to natural human sight when the shadows are pushed in Lightroom, and with almost no noise!
Below are some shots where my flash helped in creating some awesome pictures that would otherwise be flat, or just impossible to capture. I use the flash in two ways. The first is as a kicker light on a portable stand I brought with me. I set the flash so that is is directly behind what I'm shooting so I can achieve a nice silhouette effect, or disguise it as just another stage light. This looks especially cool when the venue has a hazer.
The above left picture was taken at the same moment as the above right picture, but in the left picture the flash didn't fire. In the right picture the flash fired, silhouetting Andrew and adding a beautiful vibe because of the way the haze caught the light. I have my flash positioned on the stand directly behind Andrews head. Here are some other examples where I used the flash as a rear kicker light to add a specific vibe or drama.
The second way I use the flash is as a fill light, to capture moments I couldn't otherwise because the subject is either out of reach of stage lights, or just too dark. Here are some examples of this technique.
In the picture above left my flash didn't fire, and there was no stage light on Andrew crowd surfing, creating a rather useless picture. The flash fired moments later for the picture on the right. This flash in hand technique allows me to capture any moments in low light, like when Andrew rides a large rubber duck through a dark club and takes a shot of Jägermeister standing on the bar, or when Doris is running through the mud at dusk.
So far its been a great photo journey for me. I'm learning a boatload, and fast! Having the opportunity to get multiple great shots everyday is refreshing and exciting. Hanging out at home in Nashville I need to search out great photo opportunities, while out here on the road they happen every day. The only drawback is staying on top of the workload required after I capture the pictures. I think I'm figuring that out as well, and I seem to be getting quicker in the picking and editing process every week. I'm excited to end this tour with a solid live music portfolio, and I'm hoping it will help me build it even stronger in the future.
Below is a whole bunch of pictures from the past thirty-something shows for all the Andrew McMahon fans reading this, and anyone else interested of course. I hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I enjoyed taking them! Thanks for reading and following along!