Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic Quarterfinals – 7/5/2017

Last night I headed back to Morty’s Comedy Joint after a fairly long hiatus.  There were lots of new faces but the basic crux of the place hadn’t changed a bit.

First up, as is typical, you have your regulars, your “house comics.” You can tell these guys are polished, smooth and in their element. Their expressions reveal confidence and their sets are well rehearsed.  They are your comics of tomorrow and a very amusing tomorrow it will be.  Facial reactions range from “happy welcome” to “I just swallowed a bug” to “God, it’s me, Luke.  Please help me, I’ve just swallowed a bug.”

Next you have your up and coming comics.  They’re here for the sheer thrill of competition as they duke it out in a winner-take-all fight for comedy supremacy.  Of course there is the fact that the winner is determined by vote of the audience and the comics bring all their friends to pack the house but that’s neither here nor there. Never once has that mechanic of the competition swayed the outcome of one of these immortal battles of fisticuffs!

Here the expressions rage hard from “I don’t think that’s a schmedium, honey” to “yeah, I’m 19 and I’m already cooler than all y’all” to “who?  me?”  The bottom row I leave as an exercise to the reader.

The closers are your old pros.  One thing I love about the comedy scene is the equality of it all.  Too fat for other jobs?  Don’t play nice with others?  Too ugly for contact with the general public?  Fuck it, come on down!  Comedy folks love everybody.

Ryan Niemiller is hilarious and I can’t stop thinking about him trying to unbutton his shirt…  I feel bad for thinking about it… but I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Last but not least we’ve got the legendary Chris Bowers.  As rumor would have it he’s one of the absolute nicest guys around but he seems so put together and with-it that he’s too intimidating to talk to.  I’ve exchanged a few words with him and I felt like I was going to shake myself apart like a rusted out 72 Pinto running down the interstate on four bad tires.  I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds and the dude makes me feel like a little kid.

And there you have it, one night of great comedy at the city’s best venue for comedy. Your comedians for the night were:


  • Ryan McMannis (host)
  • Ray Hensley
  • Luke Basile
  • Logan Baert
  • Deon Curry


  • Lissa Sears
  • Riley Dismore
  • Cale Forbes
  • George White
  • Mike Williams
  • Grant Weber


  • Ryan Niemiller
  • Chris Bowers

You can find full-size originals on our IndyLivePhotography website for this show and dozens of others.


Leave a comment

Filed under Indianapolis, Performance Photography

Out and About – June 2017

I’ve not posted in what seems to me like years but perhaps to you seems a delightful age of peace and quiet.  Well, rejoice no longer!

Music at the Indy Canal

Lately I’ve tried to avail myself more frequently of the downtown Indianapolis Canal.  It’s a couple mile jaunt and boasts some of the most varied selections of people to observe that you can hope for in the city and even some live entertainment from time to time.

2017 Delphi Indiana

Last weekend I found myself in Delphi Indiana.  Of all the small towns in the area this one seems to have tried hardest to set itself apart from its peers.  It boasts a Wabash and Erie Canal interactive museum and a great system of parks.  This suspension bridge struck me as keenly allegorical.  It’s very small so even one person walking with regular footsteps can set up what seems like a pretty dangerous level of motion.  I shiver to think what a few people in-step could do to it.  It just goes to show how the force of things is multiplied with consistent and repeated action in anything we undertake in life.

2017 Delphi Indiana

And remember, jumping from the bridge is strictly prohibited.

2017 Delphi Indiana

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Chinese restaurant in town.  The sign reads:  “Dear customers, We’ll be closed for vacation for two month and we’ll be reopen on Aug 1st.”  This brings to mind a few thoughts.  Firstly, I assume this family is Chinese and has returned to their homeland for the summer.  I love the trust this speaks of for the community that they can just take off for months and that the town will welcome them back.  Also there’s a quaint sort of homespun quality to the homemade sign and simple message.  I really want to eat here on August 1st and see what the place is like.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Photography Philosophy

It’s been my observation that photographers are an extremely varied bunch and that it’s difficult for any potential customer to know exactly what they’re getting when they look at partnering up with an artist.  Most people who go in search of photography services seem to think of the standard school pictures photographer who tells you to tilt your head in such and such a way and smile just -so- and only takes a picture once you’re positioned just how they want you.  I am not that sort of photographer.  In fact I might be more properly called a hunter than a photographer if that’s your standard of service.

Stoop Kids at Square Cat Records

As example I give you the shot to the right.  This photo of Stoop Kids in their Square Cat Vinyl show last November represents my hunter philosophy when it comes to shooting.  The entire show and their interaction with each other is summed up very neatly in this one photograph.  They are one of the most dynamic bands I’ve seen on stage and I was giddy to capture their souls.  Lead singer and bass player practically nose to nose while the saxophonist peaks out under the mic stand.

Philosophically, I truly believe that posed photography represents more of the photographer than of the subject.  When I shoot I want to capture the reality of what’s going on in a spontaneous and creative way.  Not cast my own thoughts and opinions on what should be onto the situation.  Your photos should be about you and who you are, not some aesthetic that some photographer prearranges for you.

Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band-Album Release Show at the HiFi 3-17-2Next we have Breezy Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from the HiFi in March of this year.  For this show we were packed in like sardines and couldn’t move without getting in the way of a lot of other people so we dutifully stood our ground just to the left of center stage for the whole show.  When I’m shooting, my absolute #1 priority is to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone else at the show or distracting from the entertainment.  If you’re lucky enough to get into a show then you’re a guest and you should act like one.  I refuse to use flash or supplemental lighting of any kind because frankly, flashes are annoying as hell.  If I can’t get a shot without getting in someone’s way then I don’t get the shot.  Simple as that.

I’m also not a fan of fancy post-processing.  There are some amazing tools out there that will let you make your photos look like just about anything.  But that is, frankly, a fraud.  The world is more than nice enough just as it is without a lot of augmentation.  Get the shot that’s there and if the light’s blue then bloody well make the picture blue.  It’s the photographer’s job to capture the moment, not create it out of whole cloth.

2016 Indiana State Fair Parkour DemoThe last point I’ll make is about capturing pivotal moments.  As example I give you this shot from last year’s Parkour demonstrations at the State Fair.  I love the expression of the guy who’s not literally walking up a wall.  This whole show was filled with amazing moments and you almost couldn’t click your shutter fast enough.  For me, this is the essence of “hunter photography”. Grabbing that perfect moment out of the air at exactly the right time and bottling it up for all to see is, in my mind, the whole point.

So that hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of my own personal philosophy on photography.  If you’d like to see more of my work please visit my site at or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

Contact me for photo ops in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas at or in the comments section.

Leave a comment

Filed under Indiana, photography, Uncategorized

Tap the Mic at Towyard Brewing

The Tow Yard represents to me the point at which… well, the cascade of knowing people began.  I was introduced to this event because of a connection that I will refer to as “Jon”.  I know Jon because I met him on my very first foray into the Indianapolis music scene.  He and his fiancee Hollie were at the first open mic that I went to in Irvington and, because Jon is one of those people who just automatically endears himself to people, connected with me.  He is, as I’ve said, the nexus of Indianapolis music.  At any rate, to summarize, Jon introduced me to Steve…

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-4

Steve does a very impassioned open mic at Tow Yard brewing each Thursday. He inherited it from someone else and frankly… well, frankly I’m disappointed in the city at how poorly it is supported. Why in the heck aren’t we supporting local artists just getting out and doing their thing? It’s an abomination. There’s so much of it on Thursday alone that I can’t possibly cover it all and yet we’re all sitting at home watching TV. Grrrr. I mean come ON! How much more sincerity do you want?

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-2

He’s laughing outside… but inside… he’s crying because you don’t support the local arts. Just saying.

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-153

So believe it or not, it’s not just a bunch of white dudes. We have some level of diversity. This particular not-white-dude was hilarious. Why didn’t you come out to see him?

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-130

As a photographer, I … well, honestly… I don’t hear much. You could be screeching at the top of your lungs about … well, anything, and I would’t give two shits. But visually…. well, this duo rocked it.

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-127

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-125

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-117

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-114

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-110

OK, so moving on from that particular amazingness… there is more amazingness.

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-106

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-94

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-82

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-76

Remind me again why you aren’t going out and hitting the Indy scene and supporting all the awesome this that’s going on….?

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-73

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-71

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-50

2016 Tap the Mic at Tow Yard Brewing-37

So seriously…. why are you sitting at home watching NetFlix? I’ll admit that I spent a LOT of time not understanding what Indy has to offer but now… now you can’t possibly be in any doubt about what an amazingly rich and diverse universe awaits you. I expect to see YOU out and about the next time I hit the streets. And just to be clear, the next time I hit the streets will be tomorrow. So get out there or be forever branded lame and unhip. Indy is where it’s at… but where are you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic

Morty’s is a local comedy icon in Indy that, to me, reeks of legitimacy.  They’ve been around for what seems like forever and they are pretty well established.  Because of this I was over the moon when they answered my random Facebook message about photography.  I’m still in that timid stage in which I feel my photos are good… better than the average dude with a cell phone… but not all that great.  So it’s hard for me to feel like I should actually get a response to my inquiries.

Here’s our opener.  Nice enough dude seemingly.

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic First real act, we get this dude. He’s not terribly memorable except to say that he seems like several college roommates I had. 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic This dude had character. And I’m not just saying that because he sent me a message asking if he could buy the photos I took. 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

This dude was the epitome of comedic poses and expression.

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

This young woman played her part well…

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

This gentleman was exceptionally hilarious. Despite his obvious physical shortcomings he had a lot to say about the culture as a whole.

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic This youngster tried hard and has good potential. 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

And so many more followed…

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic 2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

2016 Mortys Comedy Joint Open Mic

The thing I regret is that I had not nearly the guts to approach each of these people to at least hand out my card. As I heard from the owner later, many of them would love a good headshot for publicity. Sadly I couldn’t quite bring myself to approach any of them at the time. At least in part it was because of uncertainty about the lighting situation. (They had quite a bit of trouble getting the spot to work). Next time I’ll charge up to the front and greet the lot…. maybe…. if I don’t totally chicken out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Liberty Street Open Mic

As of late I’ve tried to make my way into more and more new venues to get a sense for what’s going on every day of the week.  As it turns out, on a Tuesday, things are pretty quiet but there was at least an open mic night at Liberty Street on Mass Ave.  That said, it was a REALLY low key event.  Just one guy who worked at the bar:

2016 Liberty Street Open Mic

… and one gentleman that I’ve shot a few times before…

2016 Liberty Street Open Mic

I have to say that shooting one-on-one this way was pretty awkward. My subject was very tolerant of my attempts to shoot at odd and interesting angles but I can’t imagine he was any more comfortable than I was.

2016 Liberty Street Open Mic

The awkwardness and the very poor lighting made this night one of those in which I look back and say to myself that at least I got out and shot SOMETHING. Definitely not my most inspired work but it all counts towards my 10,000 hours towards competence in this realm. The locale did have some nice random baubles, however.

2016 Liberty Street Open Mic

2016 Liberty Street Open Mic

The painfully low light doesn’t do photographers any favors, however.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

Today was the occasion of the 2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival.  This was a totally free event and people wandered in and out throughout the afternoon.  I was lucky enough to be invited by the mastermind, who shall be referred to as “JJ” throughout this post to protect his anonymity…. though in retrospect I don’t know how much anonymity he actually wants.

The festival was held at the Irving Theatre on the near east side of Indianapolis.  My attention was first drawn to the Irving because of the monthly screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Since that time I’ve realized that they are the epicenter of an incredibly diverse cultural community that includes music, poetry and movie screenings.  It’s the closest thing you’ll get to Austin, Texas in the Indy area.  It’s obvious that they really work at this stuff.

Alright, to the photos!!!!  In no particular order….

Gordon Bonham made an appearance.  This was one of the few acts that I realized I had heard of before. He gives you a whole new perspective on the concept of don’t judge someone by their appearance. He looks pretty minimal but he can totally rock the house all by himself.

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

Since the last time I wrote, I have come to know that this gentleman as the right Reverend Charlie F. Edmonds. I stand by my word that this guy is profoundly awesome. His deep, resonating voice commands immediate respect. I’d listen to him read the phone book.

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

This is…. well, sad to say that I didn’t apparently quite catch their names. They were  voted one of the top Blues bands in the city. Have I mentioned how terrible I am with names? Images I remember forever but names escape me. Typical photographer.

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

OK, so this photo…. well, it’s the Martinez family and all that needs to be said is that it embodies everything that I care to capture in the world. For the record I am a photographer and I have been paid for photos in the past but frankly I give no shits about photos beyond wonderful stuff like this. This is the real reason to take pictures. The interaction that was not captured between audience and performer was amazing….

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

So the dude with the guitar in the background is our mysterious JJ. I always love his expressions of support. I hope that his partner knows just how much he obviously adores her work. It’s written all over his face.

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival Seriously. Look at that face. If that’s not love then what is? 2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

So these two…. They’re in the middle of everything and they’re one of the very few people who have requested that I take their photo. I feel rather bad that their photo has a bus in the background. One of the primary directives of good photography is to “clear the background” and in my haste to take their picture I totally did NOT clear the anything. I’ve approached them about a real photo shoot which is something I could never have done a year ago. Kinda excited. Can’t deny.

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival Didn’t catch this artist’s name either but like everyone else he was solid. 2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

2016 Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival

So that’s more or less the evening. I do, however, want to take a moment to talk about an issue that is near and dear to my heart and it is addressed to my fellow photographers.

You are there to OBSERVE. You are NOT there to PARTICIPATE. If there is a photo that you can’t get unless you use your flash or stand in the way of other people… go away. Do not take the photo. Let the moment evaporate into the ether of the universe.

Today at this event there were half a dozen photographers. Some of them were really good. I saw them but I don’t think anyone else did. They were like wind over the hillsides. I kinda want to meet them and buy them a beer and get to know them. Others were loud and made themselves known and spoke loudly so that everyone couldn’t help but see them. I kinda don’t care about them.

Here’s the deal. If you’re a photographer then your job is to go in there and document and to make as little impact as possible. If you’re shooting with a flash in a dark room then you’ve failed. If you walk in front of another person then you’ve failed. My philosophy is to make as little impact as possible and to you who were flashing all over the place….. well, you did the wrong thing.  Sit down, figure out how to work your camera in low light and decide how you can “lay low”.  You’re here to capture the world, not contaminate it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized