I have shot a few performances now for my friend’s band KAOTIC CONTROL. They have all been fun experiences. I mean you get to take images and enjoy awesome music at the same time. They were not all flawless experiences though. There are a few things that I have learned while shooting them that may be of help to people out there.
- GET PERSONAL – Learn the names of the band members. When you arrive, introduce yourself with a handshake and use their name. “How ya doing? I’m Brandt. You’re Mike right?” This may be a small thing but it is crucial in opening the door of access with the band. They will be quicker to open up to you. If you don’t think so then think of it in reverse. You respond more favorably to people that use your name as opposed to “hey you” right?
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Scout the venue if you can. Find out where the band is going to perform. See what kind of space you will be working with. Check out the lighting. If you can’t scout the venue see if someone can provide you with that info. I made this mistake the first time I shot the band. They were playing a small bar and I brought a 70-200mm with me. It turned out I was 3-10ft from the band all night and the 70-200mm was not the right tool for the job. Do your homework, you’ll be thankful that you did.
- PLAN FOR THE WORST – So you scouted the place and see they have tungsten lighting, but when you arrive the place is super dark because they are having a special “candle light” night and the entire place is lit with only candles. What do you do? Plan for the worst. Always bring the fastest glass you have. I have a 35mm f/1.8 that goes everywhere with my. It has become my “OH SH*T” lens. When all else fails I open that sucker up and fire away. Plus the short depth of field is an added bonus.
- LEARN THE BAND’s TENDENCIES – One thing I noticed with KAOTIC CONTROL is that they usually play 3 sets a night. The bar is packed during the 1st set. It thins out a little during the 2nd set. By the time the 3rd set comes there is plenty of room to work with. So I work the wide and specialty shots early. Then later on I have enough room to get closer and work tight.
- INTERACT WITH THE BAND – Due to the small sizes of some venues, I get fairly close to the members when shooting. At first they always look at me strange because I have invaded their personal space. The last thing I want is for them to freak out. So I usually give them a thumbs-up or a nod to reassure them that they are doing great and I like what they are doing. This usually provides them with comfort and they can focus on singing/playing and not on worrying about the camera guy.
- DEVELOP A GAME PLAN – This will take time to create, but come up with a plan for the shoot. Shooting the same band over and over can become boring quick. So make a list of certain shot that you want to try that night. Change things up.
- HAVE FUN! - If things get a little overwhelming for you, take a deep breathe and remember this. DUDE, YOU’RE PHOTOGRAPHING THE BAND! HOW COOL IS THAT