Photo Exploration: Austin, Vocals. March 2011

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.

Austin, Vocals

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.