I am bad at blogging (and a primer in Amanda-style band photography)

Look how bad at keeping this photographic blog I have been! Working 40 hours a week in a photography job that doesn’t yield photos I can post here has NOT be conducive to being a good blogger. I have some ideas on keeping this thing funky fresh though. Keep your eyes peeled.

The only thing I have to offer you right now is a gallery of photos I took at a show this past week. It was the Weiss Family (mewithoutYou-ish) at The Hi-Tone here in Memphis. The Psalters and Damien Jurado also played this gig, but, I was unfortunately tied up photographing rising high school seniors, and missed everyone but the Weiss Family. Seeing this band play and getting that sense of community that often accompanies mewithoutYou shows infused enough joy and happiness into my soul to keep me smiling for days.

The Weiss Family (mewithoutYou). August 20, 2009 @ The Hi-Tone. Memphis, TN.

I haven’t really talked about my band photography on this blog as of yet. I have been doing it for 9 years (wowzers) but have shifted my focus to other photographic ventures as of late. If you see me out taking photos at a show these days, it is an indication that bands or people there mean something to me. You better BELIEVE that is why I photographed this Weiss Family show.

What is important to know about me as a band photographer (maybe moreso than for other areas of my photographic life): I do WHATEVER I need to to get the shots I want to have. This isn’t as bad as it sounds (unless you are someone who is getting in my way! Just kidding.) If the show I’m at is crowded around the stage area, there are a few different techniques I have developed over the years. The best way is for me to get on stage with the band.* Sometimes this isn’t possible due to the band members to stage space ratio in some bands, or because there are roadies or venue security who say I can’t (I’m looking in your direction, Stretch Arm Strong’s roadies in 2004 who wouldn’t let me get on stage that time. I ended up in the emergency room! That is another story for another day though…) If getting on stage isn’t possible, I have a few options. I get as close to the stage as I can first, even if it isn’t an ideal position for photography. I do the best I can from whatever place I have planted myself in to start off with. Then I start getting the itch to move to a better spot, and start eying the rest of the crowd to see what my options are.

Option One: Sweet talking.

This is the best. And comes from a much more genuine place than the name would indicate. I make my way through the crowd as politely as possible. I understand that some of the audience members have been there longer than I have in order to secure their positions, and I don’t want to unfairly jump in front of them. But, on the other hand, a photographer’s gotta do what a photographer’s gotta do (just kidding.) In this case, “what a photographer’s gotta do” is try not to step on anyone’s toes while I am passing through the crowd towards my desired location, try not to hit people inadvertantly with my camera, and say “please” and “thank you” and “Sorry!” as much as possible. People are pretty nice most of the time, so I can usually work my way towards the stage, even if it is slowly but surely. I just keep my eyes on the prize. And there are times when standing in a particular spot for the entire show would be really unfair to the people around me, so in these times, I ask if I may stand in their spot for just a few snaps of my shutter button. Like I said, people are nice. They know I really mean it when I am asking politely for their help. It works out.

Option Two: Strongarming

This is my least favorite option. It is mostly one that I used to employ at hardcore/punk shows years ago. In fact, many of my good friends SWEAR that their first memory/impression of me was having me brush past them to get to the front of a show. They admit that they never realized at that moment that they would one day find me to be the sweetest and most wonderful girl they ever knew (okay, maybe I am projecting/embelishing a bit on that last statement.) But people surely like me better than their first impression of me would have indicated. I don’t mean to say that I ever shoved people out of my way, but I can say that if the crowd that night wasn’t responding to sweet talking, I MAY have just worked my way through them anyway. I can talk about my strongarming openly now because I have recovered from it (from the most part.)

Option Three: Networking

Remember how I said sweet talking was the best? Networking may actually be. I have met A LOT of people throughout my years of band photography. As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, some of them even LIKE me now. Even if some of them don’t know ME well, they may have become acquainted with my band photography work and therefore, there are times when people see with my camera and see the pleading expression on my face, and gladly let me slide in where they have been standing. Isn’t that SWEET?!** I love it. People are so nice! It always gives me such a sense of community to see smiling, familiar faces in the crowd, who will reach out their hands and pull me in to help me get the shots I am aiming at.

*I wish I could’ve gotten on stage for the Weiss Family show, so I could’ve gotten more direct shots of other band members than those directly at the front of the stage! **this is actually what ended up happening at the Weiss Family show which is being featured in this blog. It was so great!

I didn’t set out to write about sweet talking, strongarming, or networking in this blog. I really was just going to post a link to the Weiss Family show photos. Maybe next time I accidentally blog, we can talk about how I sometimes stand in the middle of a street to take a photo and just ask anyone with me “Don’t let me get runover, okay?”

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