Friday evening, I got to see the updated Travelers Tavern or as most remember it, Rippers Rock House. I was diggin' the new setup and when you walk-in, you're greeted with a cozy dining establishment equipped with a full bar. As you make your way down to the other end of the floor, things get feeling more at home when you reach the stage. The place was packed full of fans all over the board with Harlow (Detroit, MI), Flight 619, and Walking In Circles all setting off bangin' sets to start the weekend. Here are a few of my favorites from the evening.
Wow! It's been well over a month since my last initial entry here. The holidays are over with and I can finally breathe better now. I do hope everyone had a fruitful time with family and didn't end up murdering anyone over the shopping madness. I stayed away. Two words. 'Online shopping', baby!
Olathia contacted me at the end of December to tell me they needed new promotional shots of the band. I also found out that their old bass player, Sully left the band for personal issues (best of luck bud), but they already found a new replacement. So they needed to keep things fresh for their fans. Of course, they graciously thought of me to do their glamour shots.
The location we used was super unique and packed full of ideas. Chris called me up and told me, " Hey man, we already have a location. We're using Mushroomhead's practice space! Countless possibilities await." I walked inside to see truck loads of equipment Mushroomhead uses. Stage props, their iconic masks, costumes, and all the road gear. Rob, the guy renovating the space, is hoping to open it up to national touring bands on lay overs on current tours. Very cool idea!
I was dazed when I saw all the items inside as I couldn't focus my mind on what I wanted do first. It had to be unique and spoke fit in with the image of the band. I saw the marble staircase inside the building that transitioned up into a dark, short corridor leading to the second story. It was easily the first and best spot I could use for the portrait session. Real simple. One light set-up, slightly side lit almost 180 degrees to keep the light from spilling up the steps. Wanted that darkness behind my portrait to add drama and make each member prominent in the shot. It's tough with a shoot through umbrella as light spills all over, but I was able to clean some of it up in post. Hoping to get soft box and grid soon to fix that issue.
Through a donation by the management of the band, we were giving free roam of this gorgeous Spanish-gothic style theater that not only housed a great cinema selection and vaudeville back in its heyday, but also staged some of the biggest names in music. We are talking about bands such as Slayer, Metallica, the Dead Kennedys, R.E.M, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Motörhead. Patrick Colvin of the Friends of the Historic Variety Theatre, told us Motörhead literally brought the house town that evening as the plaster of the ceiling began to fall onto the crowd. It was the beginning of the end for being a concert hall as the noise pollution was too much for surrounding residents and at this point, the place was showing its age.
With so much history attached to the Variety Theatre, it does leave behind a reminiscence of permanent residents roaming the venue. Yes. I'm talking about ghosts. Alongside a great history lesson by Patrick, he disclosed about spirits that still reside in the building. A woman in a white dress with piercing red eyes, playful children, and voices that echo the amphitheater were just a few he recalled on with interesting stories and occurrences he had encountered.
The future of the beautiful venue is currently in the hands of donations, grants, and money collected from residents living above the theater to restore it in its glorious form. If you have a chance to check this out, please do. They do offer tours and walk-a-rounds through donations and it's totally worth it. To donate to the nonprofit Friends of the Historic Variety Theatre and for updates, follow them on Facebook.
The first thing that made this come together (besides the killer location) was having the band show up with a matching style of threads. I can't tell you how much this helps for a shoot to bring "unity" to a band.
I placed the guys on the stage for this shot for a couple of reasons. One, it's a friggin' old stage with great rock history. And two. The aged look of the mechanics of the theater conceptualized the look of a rock-n-roll band. Very simple. A total of 4 lights were used for this shot you see above. Two flash strobes angled 45 degrees, camera left and right. Two halogen work lights placed behind the band for a shadow to dramatize the overall image.
Entendre are in the studio now and one of their tracks include hip hop artist, Matt Gisbrecht of PFV. I will be honest. I am not a rap/hip hop fan by all means, but I listened to some of his tracks and the beats and lyrics are very real and hit all your emotions. Matt is such a down-to-earth guy and was honored to work with him that day!
I changed my setup when Matt got into this shot. Used a SB-910 flash camera right to light the guys of Entendre where my second flash attached with a snoot to direct the light towards Matt, without filling in light from the guys behind.
Thank you Entendre, RC (band's manager), PFV, and Patrick for letting everything come together with positive vibes and a great working atmosphere! I would also like to thank the spirits of the Variety Theatre for not draining my batteries or photo bombing my images. Even though it would of been really neat if a couple orbs or eyes peered in my shots. :P
I was thrilled to hear Olathia wanted me to shoot their band promo for their new upcoming album released in May. They will be doing a release party May 1 and 2 at the Empire Concert Club and The Mable Grove. Sure to be a 2 great evenings of metal!
This being my first official shoot with a band, I had a lot of things to prepare for. First being, the most important - research! I have heaps of inspiration from other music photographers, so it was only right to ask around and see how they get the job done. I learned that every successful shoot, the most critical aspect a photographer needs is the "concept". A certain look for a rock/pop band won't necessary work for a heavy metal group. So it's vital that the look and tone will provide the message to the members and their fans.
For the shoot, we first headed out to the Empire Concert Club & Bar in Akron where I shot the guys against a white backdrop. Nothing fancy, but clean and professional. This will be used for upcoming shows the band may need to promote. I need to send out a special thanks to Eric Soudry, the club's owner at the Empire for allowing us to use his awesome venue! Many thanks, Eric!
We ended the final spot at a parking garage in downtown Akron. When I scouted this area, I thought this would be great for a band like Olathia. The dimly lit and gloomy building looked tough enough for the band's image. The incandescent ceiling lighting also added a nice warmth for my subjects. I lit the band with one flash and a shoot through umbrella at camera right. I then added a second flash behind the band marked with a yellowish flash gel to match the lighting from the ceiling. Plus, anytime you add a back light to your subject, it automatically turns out looking badass.
Next, we did individual portraits of each member of the band. Used the same lighting technique as the group shot to keep consistency.
We had a little time towards the end before they had to leave to try out some laid-back shots. Sometimes just having a candid moment with the guys can be a lot of fun and the images turn out being that.
Nikon D600 (Updated)
Nikon 24-70 f/2.8, Sigma 50mm Art f/1.4
2x Westcott 8' Light Stands, RadioPopper triggers, 2x 43" Shoot-through Umbrellas, Flash Gels, Ladder, 2x Sand Bags
I was overly impressed with the final results. I was nervous, but I stay focused and remembered to just have fun with it. There were things that I change now that I think about it, but will make adjustments and improve here on out.