It has been a while. And I will be short.
I have been away from shows and UK for a while shooting something else.
It’s a tough time for personal blogs, social networks more than driving traffic to them, nowadays are withdrawing from them.
Once there was liveon35mm.com … you went there to see concert shots.
Then it was myspace and Facebook and twitter. I put a link on there everytime something new was posted here. You clicked on the link and came to see photos and read my crap words.
Nowadays we have too many FB friends, following countless on Twitter and we scroll everything on a phone. The most we do is clicking a like or commenting “awesome” without even opening the page. Facebook pages have more visitors than the webpage they aim to sponsor.
Which translates, what I am writing now will be read by fewer people of the short sentence I’ll write on FB and Twitter to sponsor it. So better keep it short and let the photos speak.
But I don’t believe photos can speak for themselves, so few words.
This is back from March. Jessie Ware opened her 2013 tour at the Junction in Cambridge, her most anticipated tour, and for a while I wanted to catch her live.
Jessie Ware is a hot pop musician at present. She is liked by people, mainstream, blogger and last year her debut album was one of the 12 Mercury nominated records.
Apparently everyone, in UK at least, writes and says only good things about her at the moment.
Jessie Ware has the rare merit of let the mainstream press to agree with the blogsphere. The hipsters and the general public.
Could I miss this? No I couldn’t.
The consequence of the general ovation is a 85 out of 100 Metacritic score.
After few years lending her talent to other British acts, as SBTRKT or Jack Penate she went solo.
Side Comment: What did happen to Jack Penate? I still remember being almost insulted when I said to someone who thought he was about to storming the music scene that he would have not stormed even his living room in a couple of years.
Jessie Ware, on the contrary did. Someone picked her back voice and made it front. Good choice, the voice is good and the scene is perfect for her dance infused pop with no frills for the “austerity age”.
I don’t know how to describe the music except for being simple, light-hearted but also wholehearted. Jessie doesn’t exaggerate anything in her songs, they’re just about right.
The same happens at the concert. No light excess, no pop grandeur. A simple stage, simple lights, simple dress and good pop songs to make everyone at the Junction happy, and everywhere else sold out.
Laura Mvula support was a hard to beat set, but Jessie didn’t compete. She just stack to what she can do best: sing her songs. And she delivered a faultless set.
I haven’t been converted into a fan, this is not the music. I will never sit at home with a Jessie Ware album spinning on my record player. It is not even the music I would buy a ticket for another concert, but this is me. An incurable lover of depressing and unorthodox sounds.
Still I was curious enough and wanted to see her live. Which you may well do. Consider the plus that likely for few months you can still catch Jessie in reasonably small venues. If you wait for the next record you may be rushing on seetickets website to get a seat miles away from the stage on a big arena.
What Camera bag to use for concerts?
I realised I have never talked about camera bags in the photo tip. There is a reason. Camera for concerts are not so important as when you do street or travel photography (unless you walk from home to the venue!)
I don’t think there is a perfect bag, every photographer has her/his favourite, my experience suggests that, whichever you like, it’s better to go cheap.
It’s about 10 years I shoot concerts. I started on film with prime lenses, that meant carrying two or three small bodies, lenses and few films at hand ready to use. 35mm film gear was substantially smaller and lighter than most recent digital equipment unless you had the massive Contax AX with you. (comment – undoubtedly this is the best SLR film camera ever made – end of comment).
I moved to digital and zooms only few years ago. Everything became heavier and bulkier. So the bag needed to be larger to fit all the lenses. You don’t have films, memory cards are tiny but you want to bring spare batteries.
The key point about a bag, is that at concert you can’t have your bag with you.
Either shoulder, belt or backpack, a pit is too tiny to have it on you without being a hindrance (and insulted) by other concert photographers. Don’t!
The ideal setting, if you can afford two bodies, is a strap that allows you to hold the two cameras with the lenses you use the most on each shoulder at all time.
The standard choice is a 24-70mm + 70-200mm. That would cover 95% of a concert situation but I consider going wide with the 14-24mm if the venue is a tiny one, or keep a fast prime at hand if it is a very dark one.
If you don’t have two cameras, or if you use more than two lenses, start with the 24-70mm (still covering 75% of your need in a medium size concert). Your other gear will stay in a bag sitting under the barrier that divides the pit from the fans.
Access is not easy. You will have to kneel down in the dark, change lens with people moving around and start again. Three songs go very quick so all you need is a bag is easily accessible with lenses ready to use. Leave all lenses uncapped with hood mounted. It is better some dust that to miss the good shot because you forget to remove the front cap.
To close, my “best bag for concerts” suggestion is to leave your best bag at home.
Your fashionable Crumpler or Think Tank bag will get dirt and all those clever sized pockets and comfortable straps won’t be useful.
Bring instead that old cheap black bag you bought years ago and abandoned somewhere. You won’t have to carry it around, so it’s not important that it’s comfortable. You won’t have to show it off, so it’s not important it looks cool. Actually quite the opposite. if you’re in a small pit with fellow photographers you meet all the time, fine, but if you are at a big festival with tens of photographer you’ll never see again I would be cautious of leaving your expensive gear exposed in a fashionable bag. You know what I mean.