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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Performing Arts 
Thread started 02 Jun 2013 (Sunday) 14:29
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A few different bands - really need some critique and feedback

 
onona
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Jun 02, 2013 14:29 |  #1

Hey all. I'm relatively new to photography and band photography in particular, having started shooting gigs a year ago (I basically had to learn how to use a camera properly at that point; I've owned cameras for a couple of years but only really used them on auto mode for holiday snaps). I got into shooting gigs because music is my biggest passion.

A year down the line now, it's something I really love to do, and I've been shooting for a friend's hard rock/metal website, so I've had the opportunity to shoot a lot of cool bands in nice venues around London, but it's costing me quite a bit in travel costs, lenses and whatnot (which wouldn't ordinarily be an issue except that I'm in an unusually long break between jobs in my regular profession, which is in the film industry, where we work project-to-project, often with breaks inbetween where I have to live off my savings), so it'd be nice to be able to cover my costs with a few paying gigs here and there. I've tried emailing a few magazine/website picture editors but I never get any response, so clearly I need to improve, but I'm not sure at this point how or where. So I really need to hear from others, especially people who do this professionally, where I need to improve so that I can take my work to a new level.

I come from a long background in art - my main profession is an artistic one, and my educational background is all in art and design too. So I tend to approach photography from a more creative aspect, often picking photos simply because I like the colours (I spend quite a lot of time grading the colour in my shots), chiaroscuro, or composition as opposed to whether I've actually captured a dramatic moment. I realise this isn't what editors necessarily want, but at the same time, I do always ensure that I get both photos which are personally satisfying as well as photos which are more suitable for editorial (because my friend's website needs the latter more than the former too).

You'll notice that I tend to raise the black level in my photos - after almost a decade of working in linear colour space for film, the lighter black levels feel more "right" to me than pure black, and I find it adds a level of richness that pure black cannot. I like the film-like quality it lends the shots.

Anyway, enough waffling from me. As I mentioned, I'd love to hear any critique and advice for getting further with my photography and being able to produce something that people would be willing to pay for.

You can see more of my photos here (external link).

1. Skid Row @ O2 Academy Islington, London

IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/skidrow-001.jpg

2. Ghost @ Brixton Academy, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/ghost-020.jpg

3. Wednesday 13 @ Koko, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/wednesday13-001.jpg

4. Clutch @ Koko, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/clutch-016.jpg

5. Kreator @ The Forum, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/kreator-013_0.jpg

6. Jettblack @ O2 Academy Islington, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/jettblack-004.jpg

7. Papa Roach @ Brixton Academy, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/paparoach-006.jpg

8. Enochian Theory @ O2 Academy Islington, London
IMAGE: http://www.highvoltageshots.com/wp-content/gallery/best-of/enochiantheory-007.jpg

Leigh
I shoot concerts and stuff. (external link)

  
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white_aardvark
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Jun 02, 2013 16:15 |  #2

Hey Leigh, welcome! This is a great selection and I checked out your site - there's plenty of quality on there! I really like the film-like processing you have and I think you are doing a great job capturing some awesome moments. I personally would like to see more full-stage shots or shots with more than one band member - I think the bands would like that too.

From this set I'm going to go with #1, #4 and #7 as my picks, I really like the look of #7 and the backlighting on #1.

One question that I do have: do you have permission from all the bands to use their logos on your site? I'm not sure what the rules are there but certainly you would not be able to use logos of businesses (say BP or Coca Cola) and it may be worth checking out whether there are any limitations.


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onona
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Jun 02, 2013 17:21 |  #3

Thanks a lot for the friendly reply!

You raise a good point about the logos actually... I'm actually not sure how permission for that works. A lot of the bands I've shot have their logos available as downloadable images under the press sections of their site, so I guess I assumed they don't mind people using their logos provided it wasn't for making merchandise or any other products for sale. At any rate though, I was beginning to feel that the band listing pages feel a little visually busy and was planning on replacing the images with just text, or small images with no text with the band's name alongside.

Yeah, you're absolutely right that I don't have many full stage shots or whole band shots. The main reason being that I am actually not entirely sure how best to shoot those - since I shoot with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, I find it a tricky focal length to line up multiple people with, as at that aperture, I find it very difficult to ensure you that multiple people in the frame will be in focus. I also find it's not really wide enough to shoot the whole stage with from the photo pit in most venues, except for when I'm shooting in pubs and stuff with no pit, where I can step back enough to shoot the whole stage. But even then, it's hard to nail the focus, especially since I always shoot with single point focus. Do you have any advice for that? How do you ensure that you get everyone in focus? If you also shoot with single point focus, where do you focus? I'd really like to get more shots with more than one band member, even though I have a strong instinctive inclination towards shooting individual subjects because of my background in painting that I also need to break out of.

Thanks again for the reply (:


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xchangx
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Jun 02, 2013 17:55 |  #4

One thing that I've learned (and that's different from sports) is that you want to shoot for the overall experience (ambience) and not just tight shots of band members. Why? Because any publication can find stock shots of the band members. You should shoot to show more of the fans and more wide shots. Kind of like #7.

I'm mainly a sports shooter and with sports you shoot tight and crop even tighter. Exact opposite.


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onona
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Jun 02, 2013 18:16 |  #5

Thanks for the reply, xchangx. What you're saying is different to what I've read on a lot of music photographer sites though, as they all suggest, primarily, to get shots of the singer, as apparently that's what editors want, first and foremost? Magazines like Metal Hammer, Kerrang and other metal magazines that I buy as reference seem to demonstrate this too, as they almost always print a photo of the singer or lead guitarist in their live review sections. My understanding is that these magazines don't buy stock for their live reviews; they usually have a tog on-site for the show. It's usually only when there's a broader tour feature, where the journalist has spent time on the tour and they've run a long feature article on it, that you tend to see "ambience" type shots. Having said that, if you look on my actual site, you'll see I almost always shoot crowd shots anyway, as the kids in the front row, in particular, love having their photos taken.

Do you have advice on wide shots of the band though? I asked about those in my previous post, as I find the focusing for wide shots tricky.


Leigh
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xchangx
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Jun 02, 2013 18:32 |  #6

onona wrote in post #15992821 (external link)
Thanks for the reply, xchangx. What you're saying is different to what I've read on a lot of music photographer sites though, as they all suggest, primarily, to get shots of the singer, as apparently that's what editors want, first and foremost? Magazines like Metal Hammer, Kerrang and other metal magazines that I buy as reference seem to demonstrate this too, as they almost always print a photo of the singer or lead guitarist in their live review sections. My understanding is that these magazines don't buy stock for their live reviews; they usually have a tog on-site for the show. It's usually only when there's a broader tour feature, where the journalist has spent time on the tour and they've run a long feature article on it, that you tend to see "ambience" type shots. Having said that, if you look on my actual site, you'll see I almost always shoot crowd shots anyway, as the kids in the front row, in particular, love having their photos taken.

Do you have advice on wide shots of the band though? I asked about those in my previous post, as I find the focusing for wide shots tricky.

Perhaps it's a regional thing. That was from the mouth of the managing assignment editor for the east coast US of Getty Images.

Either way, I don't claim to be an awesome music photographer. :) Sports is what I primarily shoot, I just shoot entertainment stuff on the off days.

As for wide shots, I tend to like the ultra wide (17mm) stuff. Not sure if it's a fad or what not, but I like it. :) I've posted an example below.

Now don't get me wrong, I also get stock close ups. I'll even bring my 400 2.8 and shoot from a different angle if I can.


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onona
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Jun 02, 2013 18:44 |  #7

That's a cool wide shot (:

I've been contemplating getting a 16-35mm lens because I love the exaggerated perspective of wide angles (I don't think it's a fad!) plus you get the whole stage really easily. Only problem right now is that my friend (whose site I shoot for) wants me to shoot a festival in August for which I'm going to need to upgrade my 70-200mm f/4 to the f/2.8 version, which means I'm going to have to put off buying the 16-35mm lens for a while. I really do love those wide shots though, and that lens has been on my "to buy" list for a while.

So you can see why I'm so keen to get a few paying gigs, because this is starting to cost quite a lot of money. Plus I don't like being "part of the problem" when it comes to devaluing this profession by shooting for free all the time. I don't mind shooting for my friend's site for free, but at the same time, I'm very aware that this attitude is becoming increasingly frowned upon. It'd be nice to be able to break even at the end of the month in terms of costs and time spent.


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white_aardvark
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Jun 03, 2013 01:02 |  #8

So on the subject of the logos: bands put them there for press use, which means editorial work in which the press reports on the bands and therefore they get publicity. What you are doing in effect is using the logos to further your own name and business. Although you have not caused any damage at this point I would say strictly speaking you could get into quite a bit of unnecessary trouble...

Regarding wide-angle lenses: yes, buy the 16-35. It'll be your friend and you should do that before getting the next 70-200.

Wide angles: I think you can already get good 2 or 3 person shots at 24mm and mostly it's about changing the way you look at the gig rather than the equipment so much. I tend to have a couple of shots I want to take away from every gig and so I plan my three songs accordingly. Obviously you don't stick to it blindly but it helps to think about what you need on top of the (and I say this again) excellent tight shots you already have. I agree that a lot of publications want the tight shots and those are often the ones chosen as the major spreads for articles, but usually you will find a couple more shots there and they do like having a full stage shot with the band logo on it. Also, you'll have more versatility for what is being picked up. Bands themselves want wide shots where they can see all members of the band.

Finally, off the topic but fitting in with the logos - and sorry about hijacking the thread a little: I had an argument (well it was more a rant from my side) with a fellow photographer the other night because he went on and on about how this one band had posted some pics of his on Facebook without asking. I agreed it sucked and suggested he reach out to them and sort something financial out but he was adamant about getting a lawyer involved right away and not bothering contacting them. That's fine, it's his business. The point is, about 5 minutes later he told me he wanted to start watching Game of Thrones because he hadn't seen any of it. I told him the blurays of the first two seasons are pretty cool in terms of special features and extras and he told me not to be ridiculous, he had them queued for download and his superfast connection would have them all on his PC by the time he got home. I was speechless. Then I realized a lot of my fellow photographers do this with films and music. The more I think about it the more it dawns on me that many of us have very little education in terms of IP and copyright. Of course, my day job is actually in licensing so it's easier for me, but I constantly have to remind friends and acquaintances of the importance of honouring IP. That's why I felt the need to speak out on the logos.

Overall I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your stuff!


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René ­ Damkot
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Jun 04, 2013 05:44 |  #9

Okay shots, but #7 and 8 stand out most.
Rest is good, but tend to get rather boring rather quick.

I'd look for "interesting images", rather then just close portraits on stage: IMO, those are "safe shots": Always shoot them if you have little time, but if there's more time move on to something more unique. That way you have more to offer to an editor. (Again: IMO)


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Apr 17, 2018 18:16 |  #10

Love the Slayer one mate. Such a great capture of the action at a Slayer show!


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A few different bands - really need some critique and feedback
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