Tag Archives: indianapolis

Eagle Creek Park and Reflections on the Seasons

This Saturday we took a bit of a hike around Eagle Creek in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This spurred some extremely random thoughts…
I started out my photography work out in the wild.  The wind, the trees, the birds and the hard, gritty earth were my bread and butter.  If I included a human in my wanderings it was entirely by chance.  In the past year though I’ve worked much more with the species and I find that increasingly it has value.  Unsurprisingly, humans like pictures of other humans.  Now as the seasons wind down I find myself intrigued by marrying up the two and putting humans into nature.  Sadly, I don’t know nearly enough humans who want this sort of photography done.  My next goal is to somehow join these two genres and find new ground.
Eagle Creek Park in November - Indianapolis Indiana
I love the shots of my younger daughter. She really is the dreamer of us all. She’s always looking out, looking forward, and I think these capture her yearning spirit.  But there’s also a strange hesitance to these.  She yearns but she also pulls back a bit from the unknown.  Maybe this is just my own fatherly interpretation but I can also see the caution that broils up from her soul.  She is fearless yet fearful.  I hope that she gets to follow her dreams into whatever she see out there on the horizon.
I’ve noticed over the years that my artistic streak has a very contrarian spirit. I just spent the spring and summer working inside on the entertainment scene. As soon as the weather changes I’m ready to go outside and shoot nature… just as it folds up shop and lays low for the winter. I feel like a newborn baby who has his days and nights mixed up. Hopefully there won’t also be meconium to follow.
That was the introspective day that was.  Clearly I am back to focusing on the outdoors for the moment.

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VISTA, Brigantine, Emily Morrone and Anna Crume at the Irving Theatre

Firstly, let me admit that it has been a LONG time since last I wrote on this thing.  That is not to say that I’ve been sitting still; I have (as one person put it to me recently) been “really getting around” as of late.  Check out all the doings on Indy Live Photography if you care to.  Since last writing I’ve moved from the rather slow-paced world of comedic photography to the world of live music.  I feel no shame in admitting that things move FAST here.  Or, as it has been more famously said, “people come and go so quickly here.”  Yes, Dorothy, they certainly do…

Last night I was at the Irving Theatre in Indianapolis for a collection of musical amusements.  To give you proper context, the Irving is a wonderful older theatre in the middle of the Irvington neighborhood in eastern Indianapolis.  Its historical roots span from the immortal Elvis to mass murderers who proved that nobody is really immortal. On a pretty regular basis the theatre invites bands to come in and play their guts out for the neighborhood.  These performances are incredibly intimate and informal and frankly, for a photographer, the BEST possible opportunity to practice your craft.  You could very nearly put your zoom lens up the left nostril of the lead singer before someone would step forward to object.  The city of Indy has two musical hearts.  Fountain Square is where you go to practice before you jet out to the rest of the world but Irvington is where you hang out if you just want to be whoever the hell you want to be.  OK, enough of this, on to last night…

The first act up is Anna Crume.  With the ukulele and the curly hair and charming smile she has that disarming innocence.  Her music is soft and unobtrusive and the sort of thing you’d happily drift off to dreamland while you’re listening to it.  Reminds me of a few America’s Got Talent stars.

Next we have Emily Morrone; she is what I would call much more tech and edgy.  Ironically, I’m a bit of a musical moron despite getting out so much but she does a lot of sampling and playback that really makes her defy easy description.  Using just a laptop and a bit of recording equipment during a live performance she can sing a duet with herself and provide recorded background acoustics in a way that artists 30 years ago would have drooled over.  The amazing thing is that she does this all on-site and on the spur of the moment.  The mind boggles.

Next up we have Vista.  Despite being the headliner they went on next to last.  I presume that it might have been related to the fact that the lead singer was a bit under the weather.  Despite the presence of several billion uninvited life forms, Vista crushed it and brought an amazing energy to the Irving.  As a photographer I was challenged to capture them at their best and I hardly did them justice but they certainly provided a lot of WOW.

Admittedly, when I started processing these pics my first reaction was that everything I took was… pretty terrible.  The lighting here was a lot to get used to and it took me a long time to figure out how to shoot this.  The first 100 frames were almost entirely garbage and had to be pitched but after several minutes the “how” seemed to slowly leak into my brain.  By the end, the Garbage had turned to Gold and I felt really good about them.  Situations like this, as challenging as they are, epitomize the real magic of photography.  Looking back I still didn’t do “great” but I feel like the moment was pretty well captured.  And next time I’ll know a little better (I hope)

Lastly, we have Brigantine.  They closed out the show last night and from the perspective of emotion and energy they hit it out of the park.

I love the passion on their faces and the subtle interplay between everyone.

Closing comments… the more I shoot the more I realize that I don’t quite “get” music photography yet.  Having started out in more controlled circumstances, my mind automatically goes to precision and resolution and making sure you have the ABSOLUTE SHARPEST PICTURE ON THE PLANET for every single moment in a concert.  ISO 100, F22, 1/2000 is the only metric of perfection, right….?  Nope.  Just not possible.  You have to capture something fleeting, ephemeral, and you just can’t DO that with absolute perfection.  Sometimes you have to settle for a little-bit blurry picture of someone with a guitar kissing the lens of the photographer just down from you in the pit.  It’s not perfect.  It’s a snapshot of something just out of reach; you feel it in your soul even though you can’t see it with your eyes.


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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.

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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.

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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 RobSlaven.com or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

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

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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?

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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.

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