Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NKOTBSB + Britney Spears

It's been a long time between posts on this blog. But I'm happy to report I'm getting back into shooting concerts! The film I've been working on is nearing completion of principal photography, and soon after that, life should start returning to a fairly normal state. But for right now, let's talk New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears...

It's Britney, bitch!
This post is actually covering two separate shows: Britney Spears did her own tour through Phoenix, and shortly after, the NKOTBSB came through. I wasn't sure when I started this if I'd have enough to say for each concert to necessitate separate posts. But let's see what happens!

Believe it or not, I'd never attended a Britney Spears show before. And I've never had the opportunity to photograph her. But I'd always heard wild stories... like: "We were only allowed to shoot for the first 22 seconds of each song, and we weren't allowed to shoot her straight on... and if you made eye contact with her you'd be escorted out of the show." So I'd never really jumped at the chance to shoot her. But I was asked to shoot her this time around and I figured it'd be a good reason to dust off the still camera... and maybe even get a snap or two for the old portfolio. It IS Britney Spears... you can't deny she's a pretty big deal for our time. Might as well put a Britney notch in my belt.

On to the show itself. The restrictions weren't too crazy, but they also meant "amazing" photos were out of the question... 3 songs from behind the mixing board. This meant the back of the house... all the way at the opposite end of the arena floor. It also meant shooting over the entire arena of screaming fans. This was a challenge to be sure, but luckily I'm a bit taller than most 13 year old girls, so I was able to get my shots.

Oddly, or probably not actually odd at all, the crowd was made up of girls, young and old, and really gay guys. In fact, the one person I could actually hear singing OVER the loud speakers was a twenty something dude in a bedazzled Britney t-shirt. This kid was going NUTS for Britney!

During her performance, which was basically just a lot of skin and on-display crotch, Britney called a guy up from the audience and performed a lap dance on him. Initially I thought it was a "safe pick" to grab a clearly homosexual guy... but as I looked around, I reckon she'd have had a pretty tough time finding a straight guy in the house. All that aside, the people looked quite pleased with the show. Whether or not she was lip-syncing didn't matter to these kids... it was just about the show... and seeing her up there. They definitely got that.

Next was New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys. Again... I was reminded of Stephen Fry's "Last Chance To See" program, and thought I better shoot them while they're still here. Plus my sister was a huge Joey fan. For all the snickering you could imagine I heard when I told people I was shooting this show, it actually turned out to be a good shoot. I know at least one of the photos will be going in my portfolio, and anytime I can walk away from a show thinking that, I'm pretty happy.

This was a weird show tho... don't get me wrong. It started with a screen showing a bunch of photos of the boys to get the crowd warmed up. You can imagine screaming. Especially when Donnie Wahlberg popped on screen. "Oh my gawd damn!! It's Donnie!!" Then Joey McIntyre, forget it... "Oh my holy JESUS!! It's Joey!! Joey!!!!" Then those photos stopped showing. Lights kicked on... more screaming... then another video presentation with each member posing for the camera with their name in lights flashing behind them. Again, screaming. The tired and tucked away, not to be spoken of out loud fantasies of thirty thousand girls were reignited. Then the lights went down again. Then a giant, floating frying pan carried both boy bands to the stage.

The cat walk at this show was probably the longest I'd ever seen. They put it to good use. The first song was both bands together performing a re-imagining of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida". It didn't strike me right away, but towards the end of the song, I realized what I was actually looking at was the meat counter at my local grocers. The boys were strewn evenly from one end of the cat walk to the other, and on either side, the chairs were pointed AT the cat walk. (That's never usually the case.) The boys would sing to one side, then turn like clockwork to the other side. They was like a rotating electronic tie holder of leather clad boys.

These shows were, in truth, a bit weird to shoot. But you know... it's work other people would kill for. And I like getting thrown into uncomfortable situations with a camera. I think it forces you to adapt and open your mind. Good times.

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