Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm With the Band

We interrupt the behind-the-scenes series of fashion photography blogs to discuss a new (to me) genre - concert photography! Concert photography is, in many ways, like any other kind of event photography. Low light, people drinking, lots of interesting outfits and expressions to capture, it might as well be any other brand of party.

Yet, in many ways, shooting concerts is unlike any other photographic job. For one thing, taking photos of a stage show where you are on a different level than the subjects can make for either some awkward angles, or incredibly dynamic shots that look larger than life.

By far, the most difficult aspect of concert photography is the lighting, which is constantly changing brightness and color. When I worked my first concert last month at the Orange Peel - the bluegrass band Yonder Mountain, featuring the Travelin' McCourneys - I learned all too well that although I could have the perfect shot ready, right when I pressed my finger to the shutter the spotlight could suddenly change from red to blue, dark to light, and I'd have to start all over.

Luckily for me, a photojournalism background (a style which photographs authentic and candid human emotion and captures the atmosphere and story of an event) lends itself well to concert photography. While many beginners may focus on the band, spending the majority of their time front and center to the stage, crowd shots are often equally as interesting. Shooting from the pit in the few feet of space between the stage and the most enthusiastic fans, I had a front row view of Yonder Mountain's loudest head-bobbing, arm-waving cheering section.

I love close-ups, so I tried to add a few into my album, finding small details that could add to the larger story; such as the bass player plucking the beat of a bluegrass song.

Although I'd never heard Yonder Mountain's music before and I couldn't fully appreciate the concert by singing along like I could at the others I've been to of my favorite bands, the toe-tapping tunes made the joy of photographing in a new atmosphere that much better.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fun in the Kitchen

Adorably-in-love couples may have celebrated Valentine's Day a month ago (while many single ladies ate Ben & Jerry's and binge-watched romantic movies), but romantic photos can be timeless. Last month, just before V-Day, Jaimie and I had some fun in the kitchen creating our own photo studio in her apartment kitchen. With the theme of prepping for the big date - both in the kitchen and in the mirror - we wanted to create a fun, sexy, and romantic atmosphere (something pretty difficult to achieve in a small apartment kitchen!)

Of course, I had to start with a photo of the shoes. 

We may not have had the most high tech equipment for a fashion shoot, but the lack of professional equipment pushed me to get creative with my light sources and her props. Where mood lighting is concerned, there is really nothing better than white icicle lights, and luckily she had a string running right through her kitchen illuminating the background with a pleasant warm glow. A floor lamp for front light expertly filling any harsh shadows also came to my aid.

For the first outfit especially, I wanted to photograph her being goofy to capture a few genuine laughs. Telling a model to put flour on her noise is a sure-fire way to get a few self-conscious giggles, making for perfect pre-date photos. 

As always, I did a few full-body shots to show off her slim frame. When shooting in a busy scene, it's important to keep the focus on the model, and Jaimie's short dress proved the perfect distraction. Jaimie pointed her toes, showing off her long legs, creating a nice line to draw the viewer's eye through the photo.

For a Valentine's Day shoot, you can't miss the sexy shots. There is, of course, a difference between sexy and scandalous, and Jaimie's classy attire easily walked that line, allowing me to capture some beautiful shots. For the sexy look I wanted to get shots of her lazing around showing off her outfit, but in a college apartment there are few scenic spots. However, her nice wooden dining room table with the kitchen in the background made a convincing set-up. If you read these photos as a story, perhaps she had finished cleaning, changed into a sleeker outfit, and was lounging around waiting for her date.

One thing I've learned from shooting fashion photos is shooting different angles. As someone who most often shoots straight-on, I began experimenting with tilted frames, and love the result. Diagonals are often more pleasing than straight lines.

Although the holiday may come only once a year, creating romantic portraits is easy if you use a couple of the keys - soft, warm light; smiles; and sleek lines.