In the Pit
An Intimate Look at the Bands of the Bunkhouse Saloon
There is nothing hard about shooting bands. If it’s a large venue and you have a press pass, you don’t have to worry. You are inches from the stage, the lighting is perfect and in fifteen minutes you’re done. If you are shooting in a small venue and the lighting is sparse, well, hook up your flash and you’re fine. You’ve got it. But what “it” is isn’t good. It’s the same shot you’ve always taken. The same shot every other photographer in the pit took. You have nothing original and, oddly, for most photographers that is fine. I, however, don’t look at photographing bands as a formula.
I don’t use a flash and I do my best to snap the moments others ignore. In between songs works well and even while the band is hooking up equipment, tuning instruments or fighting off an OD. The photo doesn’t make a sound; no one will ever know that your picture was taken while the band was not performing. All they will know is that the lighting is impactful, the composition clean and the scene conveys feeling. They will know that you captured a moment that made sense out of chaos.
Other than the problem of being formulaic, there is the issue of thinking about shooting bands as a different type of photography. Its own subgenre. This kind of thinking brings bits of bile to the back of my throat. Like most types of photography, shooting bands only becomes cliched when photographers create cliched images. When they do it the way others have and don’t apply their unique perspective. Like any subject, wait for that moment when everything makes sense, the frame is full, all is in place and without thought, gently click. No do-overs, no second chances. Like the band on stage, your performance is live.