Category Archives: Music

Band Profile Photography

As well as live music photography, I also work with musicians to provide promotional material.

I was recently asked to provide a shot for a new local band named The Greyhound Factory. During a break in rehearsals at River City Studios in Hertford, we shot a simple group photo using a single flash with a black background.  The shot was then edited to reduce the saturation and add some filtering added. The end result is shown below.

Studio shot of local music act The Greyhound Factory
The Greyhound Factory

Other acts I’ve produced promotional material for include Indigo Star, The Trees and  Frankie The Gambler.

Frankie The Gambler

Occasional Lighting

I frequently carry around a set of slimPAR38 LED spotlights. I use these as a contingency for events where the lighting falls short of what is necessary for good coverage.

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One example is a  Year 6 Prom I covered where lighting was not provided for a surfboard simulator. Without the PAR cans the only other lighting option would have been the venue’s main fluorescent lighting, which would have seriously compromised the atmosphere (and accompanying disco!)

Another example was a music event where the main lighting bar was obstructed by decorations, meaning that the performers faces were in relative darkness. I was able to use the PAR cans as uplighters at the side of the stage, which dramatically improved the lighting.

The lights are typically set to slowly fade through the colour spectrum but can also be configured to provide static lighting.

These lights have made otherwise un-photographable events possible, with very little overhead. They are easy to set up and adaptable for any event, either to provide direct lighting or simply to add atmosphere.

Rhythms Of The World

I regularly cover a number of local music festivals, the largest of which is Rhythms Of The World.  The event takes place at Hitchin Priory and has a capacity of 30,000.

Rhythms Of The World

There are six stages covering a range of musical genres, including the BBC Introducing stage, which together with the Icehouse Stage features the cream, of regional talent.

Amber Run on the BBC Introducing Stage at ROTW 2015
Amber Run on the BBC Introducing Stage

The Main Stage is where the headline acts play whilst the St.Mary’s Stage is focused more on folk and World Music,

The Brand New Heavies on the Main Stage

One of the biggest challenges is the sheer size of the event – two days covering 19 acres is a lot of legwork.

Sukhi Ryatt on the St.Mary's Stage at ROTW 2015
Sukhi Ryatt on the St.Mary’s Stage

Continue reading Rhythms Of The World

Cantate Alumni Concert

The Cantate Alumni Choir held a gala concert at The Gresham Centre in Central London during April, featuring both the choir and former members who have gone on to form their own outfits.

The Gresham Centre, Central London
The Gresham Centre

Having worked previously with members of the choir I was delighted to be asked to photograph this event. Normally I would visit the location beforehand to get an idea of the layout, environment and lighting but on this occasion I was not able to do this, so I arrived well ahead of time to fully view the space and identify the best angles and plan the best way to move around without drawing attention to myself. Arriving well in advance of the performance also gave me an opportunity to talk to some of the musicians and the stage manager; and to take some shots of the venue and paraphernalia to illustrate the event.

The Cantate Alumni Choir
The Cantate Alumni Choir

The concert ran from 5pm until 7pm, so, being April, there was plenty of natural daylight in the building at the start due to the large windows. However, with the onset of evening, this became mixed with the artificial lighting of the venue (and consequent mix of colour temperatures).

There was plenty here to photograph – performers, audience, venue, instruments, sheet music – lots to give an idea of the feel of the event. There was also plenty to impress the ear too, with some stunning performances from both the choir, individual singers and small groups.

Continue reading Cantate Alumni Concert

Oxford Fireworks: JackFM Stage

Probably the last outdoor live music event I’ll cover this year – the JackFM stage at this year’s Oxford Fireworks display at South Park, Oxford, an annual event run by the local Rotary Club.

The stage featured five live acts, including the house band for the evening – Schrodinger’s Strings – an outfit I’ve photographed on a number of occasions.

Thankfully it was a mild evening for the time of year and the forecast downpours cleared before any of the performers took to the stage, so the only real issue was the mud!

Frankenstein’s Lobster
Frankenstein’s Lobster
Owen Paul
Schrodinger’s Strings
Schrodinger’s Strings
Eddie Brown- Schrodinger’s Strings
Fireworks
Balloon Ascents
Balloon Ascents
In The Pink A Capella
In The Pink A Capella

Schrodinger’s Strings

I ran in to Schrodinger’s Strings recently whilst taking some promotional shots for a local music festival. I’ve worked with the band in the past, taking promotional and live performance shots and this particular location lent itself very well to the character of the band.

Schrodinger's Strings

I tried a number of different angles but settled on this one as the best. I used Photoshop to enhance the exposure but otherwise the shot comes straight out of the camera.

Update: The band used this image on the cover or their recent CD.

Parkhurst Music Studio

Last month I was asked to take some promotional interior shots for Parkhurst Music Studio to be use on their website. The two floor studio is used for teaching a variety of instruments, including guitar and drums. The former stable block has recently been renovated and is light and airy.

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The studio is south facing and on my first visit there was strong sunlight streaming in to both rooms. This is far from an ideal lighting situation due to the strong shadows and high contrast between the direct sunlight and ambient light, so I returned an hour later when the position of the sun had changed.

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The ground floor studio has plenty of light, with large windows along two walls. I used off-camera bounce flash to light the darker corner of the studio to balance the lighting with the rest of the room.

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As well as wide shots of both studios I also took photographs of instruments on display in both the studios and entrance hallway.

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To get a greater feel for the environment I included some close up shots of instruments, music books and sheet music.

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If you’re interested in promotional material or interior shots please feel free to get in touch using the contact form on my website. My catchment area covers much of Hertfordshire and the Essex borders.

www.parkhurstmusicstudio.co.uk

Amici Cantate

Founded in 2005, Amici Cantate is a Bishop’s Stortford based choir who perform a wide range of material from all parts of the world. Their most recent concert was a performance of Zimbe!, a 40 minute fusion of traditional African song and jazz by Alexander L’Estrange. I was asked to cover the event by the choir’s Musical Director, John Tripp.

The concert took place in Bishop’s Stortford Baptist Church, a modern building that has more in common with a conference centre than a house of worship. I visited the church beforehand to get an idea of the space and lighting, something I always try and do before such events. I was a little concerned about the lighting (churches aren’t often generously lit) but I was pleased that the choir brought their own additional floodlighting for the event. The venue also featured a gallery, which allowed a good view of the performers.

Photo of choir performing

The choir themselves were thoughtfully decked out in simple bright colours, whilst the junior singers wore all black.

Tickets for the event sold quickly at the church was nearly full to capacity, limiting the available angles somewhat. When photographing public performances I try to be as discreet as possible – the event is for the public’s enjoyment, not mine – so I try to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Photo of choir

I took many of the shots from the back of the auditorium using a 70-300mm telephoto lens in Aperture Priority mode with the aperture around f5. Speed was set to ISO1600. Other shots were taken from the gallery and wings.

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Following the event I created a slideshow in the client area of my website so that members of the choir could view the photos. I also provided information about how to order prints or photo CDs.

If you’re interested in having an event photographed and would like more information about the services I can offer, just fill in the contact form on my website.

Guitar Making Classes

A word I often like to use to describe my photography is “observational“. This can mean photographing people, their environment, and the things they surround themselves with, either personally or professionally. Yesterday was a good example of this kind of work, when I was invited to photograph Nick Blishen at his workshop in Hertford.

Nick is an accomplished guitar maker and lectures on the subject at London Metropolitan University. I was asked to provide some promotional shots for forthcoming classes in guitar making being offered by a local music retailer.

The setting I was given was ideal – informal and relaxed, with a handful of visitors taking an interest in the various stages of the craft. I was able to photograph Nick chatting and talking about his work, as well as focusing (quite literally) on some of the tools and work in progress. The workshop was also light and airy so there was no need any artificial lighting.

The shots were delivered to the client the next day after post-production editing.

12 Bar Club

I was asked to photograph a small charity gig at the 12 Bar Club in London’s Denmark Street a few weeks back. This was an event to raise money for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity and featured a number of acoustic acts including Keef Jackman, Chloe Turner, Pat Crilly and Steve Ingrey.

The main performance area is relatively small and lit by a handful of LED PAR lamps, so the conditions were quite challenging. This is where my fast f1.8 lens comes in useful! Despite the subdued lighting I was very pleased with the results I achieved. I’ve posted a slideshow of the event in the galleries section of the website, so just click on the link below to see the shots. I’ve also includee links to the club and charity for anyone who’s interested.

12 Bar Club Slideshow

www.12barclub.com
www.helenrollason.org.uk