Doing Shots in Bars

Most of the time when I do shoot in downtown Nashville, it’s at the Hard Rock. Some times I do venture to other place since shooting for Familiar Faces is more of a networking event.
And now, there are talks about trying to bring in more than just the tourist traps that now occupy downtown. What will that mean, locals roaming around downtown? Maybe…

Well there are quite a few stories to tell and a bunch of insights. Just where do I begin. Maybe Cowboy Troy needs more lessons on using his blackberry. He’s doing one thing well, and that is sharing. For dslr photographers, the time delay can be brutal for those waiting… But, the quality can be so much better than a cell phone. In one photo posted, the rollergirls went crazy commenting… never mind the shot was out of focus, they just loved the mid air flight. Having been reluctant to select the photo for upload, it turned into an enduring moment. So, the lesson here: Shoot everything, share selectively.

Lighting: Start with good lighting. Those led lights are harsh on post production editing of colors. Even white balance can be drastically effected. Anyway, white led lights can be a eerily gray on skin. Yellow and white seems to be a good combo. But, they like reds and low light. You can always make black and white photos out of them, or even pick another monochromatic color that works.

Make a photograph: Take your time and explore around the room looking for the best angles. Choose your spots and work it. Get the shots you preplanned. You should know what you want to get. That may be close ups of instruments to whole stage shots. If you ever watch a few videos of the Jane Dear Girls performing for CMT at 12&Porter, you will see me working it. WildflowerShotgun Girl… Those shots were worth it even though that was nearly a year ago. Then they got famous or something like that. Even shooting a few nights ago for Tim, the room was limiting but I still had to find those sweet spots. And don’t give up until you get the shot. I got a great shot of the end of a guitar, but not one with the focus on the face, there is no going back.

Make friends: Enough said. Musicians are real people. They work and perform on the side. No need to go creepy fan. I passed John Rich at a show and didn’t pay attention to who he was, but then again that’s how I roll. Even in high school he was focused on music. At one show, the cute manager of a hiphop group had me take photos of her with Kristin of Darling Parade. While waiting, I found out the photographers from her label just weren’t working out for her. I’m a rock guy, so I hang out with Hello Kelly who happens to be friends with Darling Parade. and their manager has sneaked my back stage to avoid the dreaded guest list.  Kree during several shows has looked straight in my camera, she knows I’m shooting. Becca Bramlett gave a thumbs up while singing, and that crowd was huge. So, we all end up having a little fun with it all. And then there are the countless number of music row people floating around networking too.

Don’t forget the fans: Fans or friends out for support are always around. They may even tell you stories of working for SNL before it got lame or going to college with Rachel Ray. I found a fan amongst the crowd in a photo of Stealing Angels, he turns up everywhere so why not say hi. And don’t even get me started on how many ladies I want to do portraits for. I will get on stage for a shot, but fans get annoyed even when you stand on the floor in front of the lead singer.

Know the rules: Why you can still use a cell phone for photos, HD video, and stream live when there are rules against dslr’s I may never know. It may be old rules about perceived quality. I still have to dumb down video for youtube no matter what I shot it with. Ha, if I can’t use my dslr, then I’m streaming live. Oh, most of the time it’s just the big names that those riters like that. These days, if it hasn’t been tweeted during a performance it’s too late. Venues have signs warning people that if you don’t want to be photographed then you may want to stay out.

Know your venue: Be nice to the staff. They have seen and heard it all. The sound guy may even work with you on lights. The GM may have you out for future shows. If it’s a packed place, you may have to find a spot early. Suicide seating fills up at Rollerderby so I get to my spot and make camp. There are a lot of factors like times, prices, space for equipment, parking, etc. So be prepared.

Have fun: That means enjoy the moment.


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