Monday, February 23, 2009

Photoshoot with Chester Bennington

I got a text from my photog friend Jim Louvau that said "Do you want to help me on a shoot with Chester from Linkin Park?" How could I say no right? The shoot was for an upcoming story on promoting the opening of a new Club Tattoo location in Las Vegas. I just worked as an assistant on this. I brought along my studio lights, a white muslin, and my 2 cents.

Jim already had a few locations scouted out downtown, so we just did a few lighting tests before Chester and co arrived.

Chester showed up with Sean Dowdell and wife Thora, Chester's partners at Club Tattoo. The entire shoot was pretty calm. Jim and Chester go back a ways, so there were no real jitters to speak of. Everybody was cool and respectful. The whole thing went smooth and without a hitch. I'm posting these behind-the-scenes photos... but when Jim has a few of the photos ready I will post them here... or at least a link to them. I was a stand in for a lighting test at one point... so you'll get to see that... yea.

For the white muslin background shots, we set up in a break room at the AZ Republic building. We used my 2 large studio lights, and ended up keeping the over head fluorescents on too. Probably a no-no to most photogs... but we were happy with the results. Then, in the alley way, we used 2 Canon speedlight flashes (a 580ex and a 550ex) on stands with a remote. At one point, Jim was taking photos really fast, to the point where the flashes couldn't keep up... it made for some really neat lighting tho. One flash would fire, then both, the just one. It was a neat malfunction! :) This shoot has made me really want to get a proper flash and remote!

Robot Tank @ the Stray Cat

Friday night at the Stray Cat... my band's drummer, Jeff, played with his other band, Robot Tank. The venue was dark! 2 small lights pointed at the floor... and nothing else. But I got what I could get. Its always an interesting environment to shoot in. Really puts your gear to the test. I went through all my lenses and tried different things with each. High ISO, low aperture, shutter speeds all over the place.

The band was on. A welcome change in the night... sandwiched in between surf rock and metal... their straight forward rock sound is something I haven't heard in this city in a while.

Check out Robot Tank on myspace here:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

T.I. @ Celebrity Theatre

Celebrity Theatre is a cool venue. Being in-the-round, it always provides for some neat shots. Since at some points you can appear to be behind the band, or performer, you can show a lot from their point of view. I especially enjoy shots from behind the drummer, but there was not drummer tonight. Regardless, I did manage to get some cool shots.

I'm not familiar with T.I., so I can't give the most glowing review of his performance, but he did manage to get the crowd worked up. The place was packed, and as T.I. himself pointed out, there were more "ladies than ganstas". But he didn't let that bother him. He waived his gucci rag, and the crowd responded.

Lighting wise, it was a bit hit-and-miss at the start, but it was soon worked out. Since the crowd was so crazy, they left a lot of the house lights on so they could interact, while T.I. himself was constantly under a spot light. Basically, when working with a spot, I find you need to figure out the 'sweet spot' on the camera, and basically keep it there. There really aren't any adjustments you can make when a spot is involved, it's a pretty constant light source.

Snoop Dogg Party

Ok, so this weekend was "All Star Weekend"...the NBA all-star game was in town. Lots of parties and celebrities follow the big pro sports events...I covered two shows this time around. I figured I'd give them both their own post...equal weighted reviews. Anyways, the first was Saturday night at a club called Barcelona, 'hosted' by Snoop Dogg.

I showed up at about 9:30pm and didn't know what to expect. I got my media wristband and was told that Snoop would show up around 10:45pm, there would be a lingerie fashion show, and that there would be celebs showing up at all hours. For some reason, I fooled myself into thinking I wouldn't be there all night. So about 30 minutes in, the fashion show starts up. It was not particularly 'well-lit'. Just a few lights on pointed in random areas. The venue is more set up as a dance floor, rather than a stage set up. But I managed to snap a few good pics.
After the fashion show I just sort of hung around, waiting for Snoop and other celebs. I waited by the red carpet entrance and snapped a few pics of celebs. Such as Playboy playmate Pilar from August 2004, and Warren Sapp of the Oakland Raiders and Dancing with the Stars.
So, a while goes by, it's roughly 11:15pm now, and the promoter tells me and the other huddled photogs that Snoop would be here in 10 minutes. 12:15am rolls around and snoop finally pulls in. His black Merc surrounded by fans and security. They head straight for the back door, but the promoter herds them to the red carpet area first for a few pics. We start snapping. Snoop is clearly in a daze. Someone over my shoulder says "Snoop looks tired". After a few minutes of the other photogs and myself trying to get Snoops attention, he soon turns and walks away.
Later on, I waited inside for Snoop to take the stage...surrounded by single 30 and 40-somethings. It was actually quite uncomfortable. By 1:00am, Snoop had not taken the stage, but this didn't deter the drunk crowd from having a good time on their own as they one-by-one got up on stage and started shakin-it. There were two "ladies" in front of me who hopped up on stage and started that slow, drunk groove. I had to take a second look, as they reminded me of teachers I had in elementary school. I started feeling really awkward and out of place. I waited until about 1:20am, and since Snoop was no where to be seen, I bolted.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fit For Rivals EP cover

My friend Thomas Amason, of various past success ful projects, has started a new band. The band is called Fit For Rivals. It could be described as a sort of hard rock, yet pop-sensible group, with a raspy female lead singer. Very cool! Their first gig was to open for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus this month, and this would serve as their official EP release. Thomas asked if I could throw something together for their cover photo. While I had nothing really in mind, there was this thing I was toying with. It was actually a really interesting stain on the sidewalk where I go for walks. I would always walk past it thinking, "I should do something with that." So I snapped a pic with my wife's Canon Elph and started experimenting. I had a pretty simple, yet exact idea in my head what I was going to do with it. I already had the colors picked, and the rest of the set up. I wanted to throw in this sort of 'arrow-ish' symbol, which I put together in photoshop. Here is the end result:

Pretty basic, but its what I had in mind, and the band seemed to like it. They slapped their font on it. And actually, through a confused text message conversation, we came up with a pretty cool title for the EP, "Was that our youth?"

Check out the bands myspace page here.

PS. I went back to take another photo of the famous stain...and it has since been washed away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Katy Perry @ the Marquee Theatre

So. Shooting Katy Perry again. I thought about last time I shot her, and the show she put on. It was good. I wondered how it all would go down this time around. I read her wiki page to get the scoop. There was a quote from her that she heard a friend's Queen album and has since sited Freddie Mercury as an inspiration. I am a huge Queen fan, and generally when I hear things like that I like to look for similarities. Musically, obviously not so much. But just her spunky on-stage banter sort of reminded me of Freddie's personality. To a point of course.

So the show...oddly enough, when the lights went down, "Killer Queen" came out of the speakers. Which was curtailed mid-song by a loud guitar. The kiddies went nuts! This was the fullest I've ever seen the Marquee. I've said that before, but this time was even more full. Literally, packed to the doors! It was absolutely nuts. But, very well behaved. The photogs were only allowed to photograph during songs #2 and #3. You never know why. In her case, maybe just so the fans get that first song to themselves?

She sings live. A lot of poppy singers don't nowadays. Remember that ordeal at the SuperBowl? For shame. She put on a good show. She had a lot of 'stuff' on stage. There were large inflated pieces of fruit strewn about, and a giant blow up cat with glowing eyes. Again, it felt a little inspired by the big shows of the 70s and 80s. Again, kudos to Katy. I can't fault the show.

From a photogs point of view, the lighting was better than average at the Marquee. They actually used some of the white lights to light the stage. Which is a godsend in a place like that. Another photog asked my settings to shoot the Marquee. To which I said, lower your aperture as much as possible, ISO 800 at least, and pray you don't have to shoot under 1/40 sec shutter speeds! It turned out ok tho. I got to borrow a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens from another photog, what a great lens. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.