There are about a thousand different challenges when I shoot bands in bars. From crappy (or non-existent) stage lighting, to arrangement of the performers, to behavior of the fans, to musician interaction, to sound-guy attitude–every shoot/performance is unique. And that’s part of what I love about the process.
In this particular venue, Lounge 62, the stage light was high-quality modern LEDs… on the floor. So the performers had that spooky under-lit glow. And they were standing in front of frosted glass windows, so the first performers were contrast-killing back-lit. For later performers, I decided to strap a flash to a central support post in the seating area of the bar. But my normal strap was about 12 inches too short to go all the way around the “post”, so I had to get a much longer one from my car. Fortunately, getting permission to hang the flash on the post was a cinch.
With the flash in place, I had a second set of decent performance shots but there wasn’t a lot of cross-musician interaction. The most challenging member of the band to shoot, was, of course, the drummer. He was almost always in the shadow of the lead singer. Such are my challenges.
The third group to perform had some great interactions, especially between the lead singer and guitar player. There was clearly some connection between them, so I kept waiting to capture those moments. But the moment has to be at a time when my flash isn’t casting a nasty microphone shadow, and I have to have the shot composed, ready to capture the moment. Sometimes I can start to pick up on rhythms in the performance–not the notes played on the instrument, but in the way the musicians are moving and feeling the music. Some times the rhythm and the light and the composition all fall into place. I was poised, a little behind the stage, shot ready, waiting. When I saw the shot develop through the viewfinder, and pressed the shutter release, I thought I had just captured the best shot of the night. When I glanced at the LCD a moment later, I knew it was the best shot of the night. It was not the image above (sorry, just yankin’ your chain there!). It was this one.