Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Drummer Photo Curse

I have what I've dubbed "The Drummer Photo Curse."  For a long time, no matter what I did, my photos of drummers were horrid!  Drummers were often fuzzy little dots in the background in my photos.  I was at the point where I did everything I could to take photos of drummers while they were setting up just so I could have a photo of them.  

I always make an effort to get at least one photo of every band member.  Sometimes it doesn't work out.  Normally I can though, some of the images are worse than others especially if I get pinned to a spot.  Yes, I like the photography side of things but, if I like a band, I'm not so keen on leaving my front row fangirl spot when a place is packed.

But, with practice and different lenses, I've gotten better at capturing those tricky drummers.  It seems, for the most part, that I've broken the curse!

Andrew Vanette of A Million Years
Chris Stein of Jump Into The Gospel

The pre-show shot: 
Prior to breaking my curse, the above was how all of my decent drummer shots looked.  The drummer was reasonably well lit by the house lights, generally not moving and no lead singers butt to photograph around.

Ian Hudgins of Hot Seconds
Kent Aberle of The On Fires

The unexpected clear shot: 
The above photos represent those times when other band members leave you a clear path to the drummer.  Sometimes in order to make use of that clear path you end up on your knees ... a lot of my drummer photos are taken with me on my knees.  Other times you have to apologize to the person next to you for leaning over in front of them to grab an opportunity.  The drummers bandmates aren't the only challenge in getting a decent shot.  You have to deal with the drums themselves.  Cymbals in particular are problematic.  They are evil discs of shininess.  The slightest move of a shiny object can steal the focus in your photo.  At times they don't even have to move, as is the case in the photo of Hudgins above.  They're just focus thieves in general, at least based on my experience.

Matt Krupa of Talking To Walls
Dean Anshutz of Red Wanting Blue
The expressive drummers: 
Some drummers are incredibly expressive.  I can think of two off the top of my head, Brian Blade (whom I've had the pleasure of photographing in my point and shoot days) and Krupa who is pictured above.  Krupa is not only audibly fun to listen to but visually fun to watch and photograph.  He's a showman.  Anshutz, is also one of those entertainingly expressive drummers.  There's a wildness to him that makes him not only challenging but fun to photograph.  He brings that perfect dash of excitement, audibly and visually.

Ryan Oh-No of Prospector (formerly Doppelgänger)

The singing drummer:
Interestingly, Oh-No was one of the first drummers I was able to get a decent photo of. When the drummer handles the vocals, you're presented with an additional challenge, the microphone.  If you're familiar with a band then you know what band member does what, how they move on-stage and how their gear is set up.  The above photo was taken the first time I saw Doppelgänger (now known as Prospector) perform.  So I had no clue to any of that.  I originally was on the other side of the stage which of course meant that Oh-No was obscured by not only a cymbal but his microphone.  A quick change to the other side and I was good to go.  On-No's bandmate left plenty of clear shot opportunities plus, I had the added bonus of Oh-No being nicely lit.