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.