I heard from a film photographer once that he would only shoot the first three songs of a concert. He said the energy level was highest then and that at least one of the songs was going to be something the crowd could get into. There was the practical reality that if you wanted to get your photos in the papers then you had better get back to the hotel and start developing ASAP. If I had followed his advice I would have missed this photo.
This was taken at the only live performance of a group of extremely, extremely talented musicians that went by the name The Archetechs. I believe all were taken during the song Mr. Multi-Million. The show was in a cramped room in downtown Asheville that was overflowing with people. I’d been working with the group to provide imagery for their website, album material, etc and was excited to finally see them live. It was quite a meaningful experience.
There are some attributes to a venue that help photographers. Great lighting, easy to get around, awesome stages — plenty of places have those features. The location of this show was not one of them. It was a completely flat floor, providing for an intimate experience with the band but difficult to get angles one normally can get at an event. The lighting was atrocious. Barely any special lighting for the band, and what there was were basically directional 40watt bulbs. So, out comes the 50mm f/1.4 and we’re shooting pretty much wide open and hoping for decent framing. ISO at least 1600 on a 5D all night. Looking for any settings that will come out sharp and reasonably exposed.
Even with the difficulties there were a great number of photos that came out at least decent. Some good energy shots, some nice intimate captures, and especially a series of Austin singing this one song. I remember very clearly taking the photos and having high expectations for a single definitive shot. But the more I looked at that series — trying to pick out “the one” — the more I leaned towards a set. It was clearer to me that a triptych conveyed Austin’s emotions and convictions far more completely than one solitary capture.
After mixing and matching the sets, I decided on these three. I enjoy the story they tell, the selflessness of the artist mixed with the conviction of the cause in the lyrics. Even though the photos are grainy, the contrast is higher than I prefer and the framing isn’t perfect, I can hear the song every time I see the photos. Trying to accurately document the power of performance leads down many paths and most often the results aren’t what were expected.
To close, I don’t know if Austin has sung the song in public since this show, but I’d like to think that every time there is this much energy and soul in the performance.