Last week I shot my first concert photography in just over a year, covering The Dream at The Commodore Ballroom for Lords of Dogwood.
I love doing concert photography; It’s the perfect mix of that high-strung can’t-miss-the-moment style of photography and patient, predictive sniping. The anticipation is the same as for an act I desperately want to see live, but the trance I fall into when they hit the stage is different. Not completely, but there’s an efficiency and fierceness where there would normally be ecstatic uncontrolled joy.
…I may get way too excited about concerts; Just ask anyone who saw Anamanaguchi at XOXOFest.
This was my first non-festival show & first shoot at the venue. So, on the advice of a fellow photographer, I prepared for the venue to not have a concert pit in place. Naturally, this meant I arrived to find a proper barrier and a sparsely populated photo pit. It’d be a dream come true, except that I’d brought the way-too-damn-long 70-200mm f/2.8 IS as my main lens.
I spent the last ten or so minutes of the opener’s set panicking quietly on a chair nearby, trying to figure out how I was going to manage this. Thankfully, I’d just picked up the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens that afternoon and had wisely stuffed it in my pocket. So fuck it, let’s jump in the deep end with this thing & hope I don’t sink too deep.
As soon as The Dream slowly strutted out onto the stage, my panic vanished and I dropped right into that fierce efficient trance. I shot the first two full songs with the 40, making full use of the fact that there were only 3-4 other photographers in the pit.
For the third song, I quickly broke out the 70-200mm & shot from the edges of the pit horizontally across the stage for a couple minutes. Finally, I ditched out of the pit completely, hoping to get the classic from-the-balcony shot that Melissa Guzman always closes out her Commodore photosets with.
Sadly, the upstairs was closed; I had to make do shooting from the wings near the sound booths. Song three wrapped up & I made a break for the door.