10 Bands To Photograph

26 01 2010

Here is a list of my 10 favorite bands to photograph and a couple of words in summary…

10. Mickey Avalon: Unpredictable on stage (photo)
9. Crowfield: New band to me & great music (photo)
8. Black Carl: Emma’s vocals (photo)
7. Death By Stereo: Hardcore from the crowd (photo)
6. Rusted Root: Great vibe (photo)
5. Agnostic Front: NYHC Legends (photo)
4. What Laura Says: Great on stage (photo)
3. Cage The Elephant: Next generation punk rockers (photo)
2. Rev. Horton Heat: Perfect lighting (photo)
1. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers: Always a challenge – Great stage presence (photo)

I am proud of my list’s diversity. Each show was a very different experience which is why they stand out in my mind.

Agnostic Front : Yucca Tap Room / Tempe, AZ

What bands do you like to see live? Have you ever photographed their concerts? As always, we want to hear from you. Leave a comment and if you shot photos of the show add a link to share them.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com


Concert Photography 101 : Basic Camera Settings

22 01 2010

Death By Stereo : Yucca Tap Room / Tempe, AZ
Taking great photos at concerts has everything to do with knowing how to use the proper settings on your camera. I don’t care if you are shooting with a $750 camera or a $7,500 camera. If you don’t know how to use it under specific concert circumstances – you will not get the shot.

Before the show there are a couple of things I think about. Have I ever seen a show at this venue before? What access restrictions do I have? Is there a photo pit? These questions all lead up to the final question: What is the lighting like at the venue?

Light dictates all of my decisions regarding camera settings.

ISO: The simplest definition of ISO is the measure of film’s sensitivity to light. In digital photography ISO measures the digital sensor’s sensitivity to light. (For a complete explantion: click here)

I set my ISO to the lowest available setting that produces a properly lit image. I don’t like to shoot at ISO 1600+ because of the noise or extra grain in the photo. With that being said – there are situations where it can not be avoided.

How Do I Know What ISO Setting Is Right? There are two ways to quickly determine ISO settings – Test shots or live view. Use your camera’s live view mode to see when you need to push (increase) the sensor’s speed. Live view is helpful to confirm settings before and during all my concert shoots.

Shutter Speed and Lens Aperture: As I mentioned in my previous Concert Photography 101 post, before I was comfortable shooting in manual mode I relied on TV (or shutter priority mode.)

Why? For most venues I tend to max out my lens’ aperture at 1.8 or 2.8 – so there is very little thinking about aperture. When shooting in shutter priority the aperture is automatically adjusted by the internal light meter (we’ll get into metering in the next post) as I alter the shutter speed. Again use your camera’s live view function to preview the photograph. It’s typical for me to change shutter speeds as the stage lights change. Often I go from 1/125 to 1/45 during one or two songs.

These three things (ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speeds) are the simplest way to get on the right path to taking good concert photos. I suggest you practice at your house and get a feel for how your camera reacts to different light. A good experiment is to turn on all the lights in a room – take a couple of photos with different settings. Do the same with medium and dim light. Review the photos and document the settings. Why would you wait until the night of the event to experiment?

If you visit my Flickr gallery you can view my camera settings for every photo posted – take advantage of this information and get a feel for what settings you’ll need at the next show.

As always, I want to know how you do things – leave a comment and share some of your knowledge with everyone.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

GRT2 Self Portrait July 2009

FOCUS : New Photography Web Series

20 01 2010

Here’s a quick preview of my new web series that starts next week! If you are a photographer or an artist and you have a specific photo or project you want highlighted please contact me via email. GRT2

Concert Photography 101 : Getting Started

9 01 2010

Greg Taylor Concert Photography Gear

So, you want to combine your love for music and photography but don’t know where to start. I’ve developed a series of weekly articles will help you get started.

The first place to start is with a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera. Sounds simple enough but many people don’t realize that the typical point and shoot camera will not produce the shots you want. Sure point and shoots are great for snapshots of you and your friends but not of the show. I use the Canon EOS xsi with two different lenses. The lenses I almost always use are a prime 50mm f1.8 and a 24-70 f2.8. I find that very rarely do I go into my bag to grab a different lens.

Why these two lenses? The 50mm prime (sometime referred to as the nifty-50) is a lens every photographer should have. The 50 is an inexpensive way to have something that is fast enough for the poor lighting conditions of concert venues. F1.8 is more than enough when shooting at ISO800 – 1600. The 24-70 allows me to frame the shot differently. Whereas the 50mm is prime (no zoom in or out) the 24-70 gives me some more freedom. F2.8 is fast enough with a shutter speed of 1/60 – 1/125 while using ISO800 – 1600.

If you notice I haven’t mentioned using a flash. I never use a flash when taking concert photos. Why? Unless you are on assignment from the band or band’s management the artists really don’t appreciate a flash popping in their face during the set – or even the three songs you’re allowed to shoot (we’ll get to that part later in concert photo etiquette.) Many times the conditions of using a photo pass is “NO FLASH”.

Basic equipment needed: DSLR Camera (which has at least ISO1600) and a f2.8 lens. (Above is a photo of my primary concert gear.)

So you have the gear – now what? You have to know your camera and know the settings. I’m not saying before getting started you need to be the most technical photographer. The knowledge needed is how your gear responds in different lighting situations. What shutter speed? at which ISO? what f-stop? This is what makes or breaks the picture. Get the lighting right and your chances increase dramatically of getting a good photograph. Below are samples of my photos with various camera settings I rely on:

(Links to more of my concert photography with photo settings can be found at www.flickr.com/grtaylor – select image and click on properties)

Know your camera, know your settings, trust your instincts and have fun – chances are you have the best seat in the house!

The next post in this series will discuss ambient light and basic camera settings. The article will also include metering, aperture, determining ISO, and shutter speeds. (Other upcoming posts will include how to get the shot, framing – concert photography composition, post processing digital images, getting your photo equipment in the house and photo credentials.)

I want to know about your concert photography experience. What was the first concert you shot? How did the images turn out? Please leave a comment and show off some of your music photos.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit www.grtaylor2photo.com

Five Photographers That Rock

2 01 2010

Everyone who has ever been successful has mentors. If mentor is too formal a word for art than people they admire and look to their work for inspiration. The access to online portfolios, flickr and tweets about photo shoots has expanded my view. But ultimately there are a handful of photographers over the years whose work has stuck with me – so here is my list of FIVE Photographers that I respect and admire their work. (In no particular order.)

Stevie D of the Raging Lamos by Ben Cornish

BEN CORNISH: Who is Ben Cornish? Ben is a filmmaker that lives in Denver but growing up he was one of my best friends. Ben was the person who always had a 35mm camera or a video camera with him. I know somewhere there are umpteen boxes of VHS tapes and photographs from our high school days and thereafter. I’ve always liked the diverse subjects Ben shot. One day it would be a skate session and then maybe a concert we were going to later and probably along the way he would pull the car over to take a picture of a cool tree by the side of the road. Ben made it ok for me to take photos and to have a camera with me often.

GLEN E. FRIEDMAN: If you don’t know who Glen E. Friedman is – look it up. Glen documented two groundbreaking subjects in history (and my life) – early days of skateboarding and the east coast music movement (both punk rock and hip-hop.) Glen’s unique composition and powerful portraits are the envy of many photographer. Often before going to shoot a concert or a portrait I will look at one of his amazing books to get ideas on position, lighting and composition. I know I am not alone when I say – Glen E. Friedman has influenced me more than any other photographer. (Period.)

TODD OWYOUNG: Todd is a Concert Photographer from Los Angeles, CA. The thing that always strikes me about Todd’s work is the amazing colors. Concert photography is usually a fight with light. He is able to make the lighting work for him and produce excellent work. What I admire most about Todd is his transparency. Usually his posts include what lenses were used and his camera settings. As I refer to Glen’s books I also refer to Todd’s website to gain insight on technical aspects of concert photography. He has helped my progression as an artist.

CHADWICK FOWLER: I have known of Chadwick for a while now – but I first met him spring of 2009. Chadwick is a professional photographer from Phoenix, AZ that specializes only in great shots. His business is segmented into Commercial Photography, Concert / Music Photography and Portrait Photography. He has a passion for getting the best photo at the perfect moment. More than that he has a passion for his craft (photography) – I know because I have seen him in action. Chadwick sets the bar high for us photographers in Phoenix and we are all better for it. Check out his work. www.chadwickfowler.com

CRAIG BLANK: I’ve known Craig since the early 80’s. Craig was one of our best friend’s (older) brother. I don’t know what to say about Craig’s photographs – whether it’s about his architecture work, product work or portraits – His photos always capture that thing. (It’s difficult to put into words.) Again, these are the shots I am continually seeking. Craig is probably one of the most technical photographers I know (graduated from School of Visual Arts in NYC.) When I see Craig’s work it always makes me pick up my camera and photograph something.

There’s my list. These are the artists that I work to be named with at someday. Who are your favorite photographers – I want to know so I can expand my circle influence. (Happy 2010 to everyone.)

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit: www.grtaylor2photo.com

Concert Photography Series: Tips, Tricks and Other Notes from Experience

27 12 2009

Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers

Concert Photography Series:  In this series I will discuss things I have learned along the way from both my experiences and from other photographers. Topics will include lighting, camera settings, equipment and how to obtain the elusive photo pass.

Living in Tempe, AZ I am at both an advantage and a disadvantage with concert photography. Cons: we are a small market. Not every band has Tempe / Phoenix on it’s touring radar. Quite often when I research tour schedules it’s common for a band to go from Los Angeles to Dallas or to Las Vegas and skip the whole Southwest. Pros: This is a smaller market and there are not a lot of photographers specializing in live music. So there are less requests from media for credentials. We have a vibrant local music scene and the bands are very lax with photography and the small clubs are very photo friendly. We have a number of smaller venues (i.e Marquee Theater, Dodge Theater or The Orpheum) where with the right credentials you will be able to photography national acts. (Please replace the names of venues etc. with your local venues that have a capacity of up to 10,000 people.)

Where to get started? Vote on the poll and let me know where we should begin.

To view my complete photography portfolio please visit: www.grtaylor2photo.com

Not just Another 2009 List – It's My List

23 12 2009

Yes it’s that time of year again…Everyone reflects about the previous twelve months and compiles a list. Some lists are made of resolutions – but not mine. This list isn’t just another Top 10 List – It’s my list. It’s my list of more things that I want more of in 2010!

Best Movie: The Hangover – one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen in a theater. No, I’ve never passed out and been face to face with Mike Tyson’s tiger. (Sorry if you were living under a rock and didn’t see the movie and I spoiled it for you.) I have however gone on a bender and woke up the next day and wondered what the hell happened and who do I need to apologize to?

Best Concert or Live Show: This was a close one but after really thinking about it – It’s Rusted Root and Crowfield at The Marquee Theater in Tempe.

It’s been years since I’ve seen Rusted Root and honestly if their PR Agency hadn’t given me photo access I wouldn’t have gone. It would have been my loss. The band sounds just as good as ever. Another thing about this show was the opening band Crowfield from Charleston, SC. Crowfield is band on the verge of getting popular. (Check them out on iTunes or wherever.) I bought their disc and it’s in constant rotation in my car.

Favorite Travel Spot of 2009: Boise, ID. We went to see friends in Boise on our way to Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, WY. I had never been to Boise before and didn’t know what to think. I was amazed. It’s a great small city that reminds me a lot of Denver only smaller and a little like Tempe but only larger.

Non Music Related Event: The Redneck Olympics on the Mogollon Rim. Buy me a beer sometime and I’ll tell you the stories. (Maybe.)

Favorite Restaurant: This category had to be broken into two – lunch and dinner.

Lunch: Green New American Vegetarian in Tempe – Awesome food, great prices, fantastic value. (Four Peak Brewery in Tempe is a very close second.)

Dinner: Mucho Gusto Mexican Bistro in Tempe – Our favorite place and some of the best Mexican in the Valley.

Favorite Bar: TT Roadhouse (68th St. & Thomas) Cold drinks reasonably priced and the best jukebox in Phoenix hands down. Some of the patrons may look a little rough around the edges but everyone there is good people. Grab a drink, drop some coins in the jukebox and settle in for a heated game of darts. (Note: TT stands for Tortoise Trophy – a motorcycle race in England.)

Best TV Show: I don’t watch much TV at all. My choice has been off the air for a while but it was something I found in 2009 and since this is my list here it is: The Wire. If you’ve never watched the wire. Get all six seasons on Netflix, lock yourself in a room and watch them all. Awesome.

Favorite Book: Tribes by Seth Godin. Stop fearing criticism and start leading.

Favorite Song: Again it’s my list so I’m going to pick a song I really liked in 2009 that is actually from 1997. Triburay Otis – Otis is track one from The Refreshments (now Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers) second album Bottle and Fresh Horses. Sometime older is a little better than the new and Otis always sounds great live.

So there it is – my list of 2009 stuff. I know there will be people who disagree with me and think I’m wrong. Let me know how wrong I am via comment but remember – this is my list…