Gin Blossoms at Belly Up
You guys!! Gin Blossoms!!
It is no secret that I love 90's music. I seem to be forever stuck in the 90's when it comes to my playlists. I am not ashamed. When the opportunity came to shoot Gin Blossoms, a headliner in the soundtrack of my teenage years, I jumped at the chance.
It took me over five hours to get to this venue because of wonderful LA traffic. It was absolutely worth it, though. The show was sold out and the venue was packed, and I mean PACKED. I could barely move, despite being so tiny.
This was my last show of 2021, and my first show as a contributor for California and US Rocker Online Magazines. I look forward to many more in 2022.
You can read my full review here.
I shot an alternative/pop band last night. I was told there would be a photo pit, but there was not. This was my experience...
When the time came, I looked for the entrance to the pit...only to find that there was no photo pit. I was fucked. I looked around for a better vantage point when I spotted an opening at the front of the stage. I waited a minute to see if anyone would occupy it and no one did. So, being the burglarhobbit that I am, I maneuvered my way through the crowd and slid into the vacant gap. I wasn't there for 30 seconds before I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the woman standing slightly back from the stage. "I saw that," she said. I told her that this is my job and I promised her I would only be there for three songs. She didn't care. She just wanted to tell me that she was amused and impressed with how easily I moved through the packed crowd, and since she could see over my head, I wasn't bothering anyone. The man next to me was not so amused or understanding. He was furious that I took "his spot." Except, it wasn't his spot. He was occupying the space next to the spot that I took. He was angry that he had been standing there since the doors opened and I am just now showing up to get the same view. I politely told him I had sat in 5 hours of traffic to be there for my job, showed him my official photo pass, and assured him I would only be shooting three songs (as per my agreement with the band's publicist). "You're going to be standing in front of me for THREE SONGS?!?!" I honestly couldn't tell if he was more drunk or angry. Probably drunk because I wasn't actually in front of him. His wife was really sweet, and annoyed that he was making a fuss as she clearly understood that I was working, and had no intension of intruding on their night. His wife then reminded him that they have seen this band dozens of time, and I would only be there for three songs. The amused woman behind me took that opportunity to point out that everyone behind me can see over my head, and that I wasn't disrupting their view...but he would absolutely disrupt mine. Once the show started, he was still next to me, with nothing taken away from his evening other than what he took away from himself.
This really is a grey area. On the one hand, manners, I am never trying to take experiences away from people, but I also have a job to do and if there is no pit, I have to be at the front of the stage. I am literally five feet tall. I can't see or shoot through people. It's just not possible. I do my best to be as polite as possible about it but at the end of the day, this is what I have to do and I'm not really asking for anyone's permission. Look, this is not an ideal situation. I don't like it, you don't like it, but it's where we are. We can both be jerks about it and potentially soil our evenings, or we can both understand that this is tough but work through it reasonably and rationally so that you can see the show and I get my shots and everyone wins. I'm taking my shots regardless, so the attitude of our brief interaction is up to you.
If you look at another person who might need a little understanding and compromise due to things beyond their control like height or disabilities, (and no, you are not entitled to a medical explanation before you should be compassionate) and you refuse to share a space at the front of an elevated stage and stealing their experience because "I was here first", "I paid for this", or "That's not my problem", then you are not a good person at all and you don't deserve nice things.
I was at a show at the Whisky not long ago. I had already shot the opener. I had "claimed my spot" for the headliner when a man in a wheelchair made his way to the front. He asked if he could get in to the spot I was standing in so he could see. Of course I moved. Everyone moved for him. He needed to use the bathroom and asked everyone around if we wouldn't mind holding the spot for him. When a couple unknowingly tried to take that spot, a group of women who had been behind me for the opener had told them that it's reserved for a man in a wheelchair. The couple quickly relinquished this spot. These woman would not let anyone steal this experience from this man, even though he was a stranger. The other people at the front of the stage saw what had happened, and opened spaces for me so I could work, knowing I wasn't going to steal the experience from them. Metalheads are really the best people.
Music should be a shared experience. Not one of MEEEEE. Move for others. Let them enjoy the music same as you. Dance with them. Drink with them. Sing with them. Be the story that they tell their friends the next day to make them wish they were there to meet you. If someone falls, help them up. We are all at the same place to experience the same band we all have the same love for. If you want a private experience where it's all about you, YouTube has all their videos. You don't have to put on pants for YouTube.
Exhorder at 1720
It is really funny to me that all the shows I have covered for Outburn have been at either The Whisky or 1720. At least I was prepared this time and remember to eat something before I left. I was very proud of myself.
This time, I decided to enjoy the journey to the venue and I took PCH through Santa Monica and the surrounding areas. The drive took almost 2 1/2 hours, but I knew it would before I chose this route. That's life in LA. It was still far less stressful than trying to deal with the 101, 405, or 10 freeways. A good chunk of that time, like 30 minutes of it, was my own fault. Despite the fact that my navigation app is really good about taking me down side streets and through residential areas to avoid traffic jams, I failed myself and missed a turn, leading me straight into the most frustrating traffic I have ever experienced. I am not sure on my exact location, but I ended up on this street with two lanes, but only one was open to cars, the other was bumpered off and reserved solely for busses. The only reason it was so frustrating is because I did not see a single bus going in either direction. Where were all the buses?? It was between 6 and 7 pm, a normal and reasonable time to expect multiple buses running in both directions. There were none. Stupid LA is stupid sometimes. New York really does some things better than us: street food venders and public transportation.
It was a relief when I finally got to 1720 because I just needed to stand at that point. I went out to the back outside area and chatted with one of the members of Take Offense, the opening act. After a few minutes, he needed to go to start getting ready for the show. I walked back inside and took my place at the front of the stage, the photo pit was not set up, to my chagrin. That's okay, if there's anything I have learned in all the years of shooting bands, it's that generally, most people who occupy the front stage area will happily allow you in front of them for a few minutes so that you can get some shots. (It's usually only other photographers that get possessive of their claimed spots, which is stupid because we can all get our shots and walk away happy.)
I was excited to cover Exhorder, as they were one of the most influential metal bands of the late 80's and 90's. Without them, we wouldn't have the sounds of metal that we have now come to know and love, such as Pantera, Lamb of God, and White Zombie. They are metal gods and should be worshiped for all of time.
You can read my full review here.
This was my second job for Dr. Bobbi Jones at Zen Wellness. These jobs are simple corporate headshots and a few custom content photos of her and her doctors at work. I was afraid I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew, not because of the job itself, but because I already had an assignment for Outburn scheduled (back in October) for the next day, and creating an editing schedule that allows me to complete both jobs on time would be a challenge. I tend to overshoot shows-because of self doubt-and editing portraits requires extra time and care, and Dr. Jones is someone I want as repeat business so I can not let her products suffer. So, I took my time with both assignments. I usually have my finalized photos turned in days before the actual deadline, but this time, I was going to have to turn them in on the deadline to make sure that everyone, including myself, is happy with their images.
This shoot was fantastic. Dr. Jones is a lovely, soft spoken, and kind woman who brings out the best in everyone around her. Her staff is just as pleasant to be around. I especially enjoyed her receptionist, Jamie, who was all smiles and laughter and took it upon herself to make my life (and post production) easier by using her skills as a hairstylist and make up artist to make sure all the woman were camera ready. (I do not employ and hair stylist or make up artist at this time.) Even though this was my second shoot doing this exact thing, I had not yet met the women whom I photographed this day. There were some employees who could not make it to the last shoot over a year ago, and a few of them were hired since then.
Come with me on some awesome photo adventures and a few wild shenanigans.