Thursday, July 28, 2011

Metal to the core @ Heavy MTL

I grew up listening to rock and metal. So when I got the OK to shoot the Heavy MTL 2 day festival, I was stoked! The organisers first said no photographers in the photo pit, but quickly changed their mind when many photographers refused to carry their gear into a mosh pit to get decent images. Good on you Evenko, thanks for making our lives easier (and safer!).

The 2 day line-up was intense. There were many great local bands such as Slaves on Dope and Blackguard, along with some pretty heavy weight headliners. Day 1 had In Flames, Godsmack, Disturbed while day 2 had Anthrax, Motorhead and Kiss. Many fans were wondering at the pertinence of having Kiss at a heavy metal festival, but when you think back to when Kiss was in their heyday, they set the stage for the heavy metal movement.

The festival had 3 stages, 2 main ones and one secondary one. The main stages were pretty high up and somewhat drab as the band was pretty far apart from each other. The secondary stage was my favourite. You could get up close to the bands and they had some lights going on making for interesting shots, like the one below from Blackguard.

The typical 3 songs and out was in effect for most of the bands. Due to the number of photographers in the pit, we were limited to 1 song for Anthrax, Opeth and Motorhead. The only black mark of the day went to Kiss who limited the actual media present in the pit. Out of the 30 or so photographers, I believe 8 were the "chosen" to shoot Kiss. While I can appreciate that the band is in control of their image and in their right to do what they do, it is a piss off when you are a struggling photographer and a band, which was once a struggling band, wants to be so controlling of their image. It is in my best interest to take the best shots possible of all clients. And besides, how many freakin photos of Kiss are already out there? They presented a release form to all photographers shooting which basically sold the photographer's soul. The rights and ownership of the images are given to the band and the photographer isn't legally allowed to use the images taken for their own portfolio without approval of the band.

That's what we call a rights grab. The band, who makes way more money than I do, now have 8 top notch photographers taking images of them for free. Am I a bit pissed? Kinda. I'm pissed that more and more bands are doing things like this.

That venting aside, the festival was very well organised, I love how they treat the media and the notch. Music was awesome and I got to mix in being a pro photographer and being a fan at the same time!

You can check out the Heavy MTL Day 1 and Day 2 images in the Gallery section of my website.

Below are Day 1 images of Disturbed, Godsmack, Billy Talent and In Flames

And here we have some Day 2 images of Motorhead, Morbid Angel, Anthrax, As I Lay Dying and Girlschool

Monday, July 18, 2011

All Warped-up (warped music, warped back, warped mind,...)

A little over a week after the end of the Jazz fest, The Vans Warped Tour was in town. Going over the schedule, there were 8 (I think, it's all a blur) stages and over 80 bands playing...all in one day! And here I thought that shooting 20 bands in 10 days was hectic.

The name of the game is scheduling your time. The first thing I did was grab the daily schedule (it can change any day, so grabbing it the day of almost guarantees the bands you want to shoot are playing), I went to the press tent, sat a picnic table, and spent 30 minutes planning my day. Nothing was set in stone, but there were a few bands on the list that were must shoots, so I had to plan the rest of my shooting around them. The last thing I wanted was to be wandering for an hour not really knowing where I was going and missing out on some of the awesome talent.

Typical 3 songs and out was in effect for all bands on all stages. Although some had less people watching so it allowed for some decent shots from the crowd. Pits on all stages except the smallest one, which was hosting an all day battle of the bands.

The venue was alright. It was at Parc Jean-Drapeau, and outdoor parc on an island. Little Montreal fact... the island is man made mostly from the dirt that was dug up while they were digging (dirt dug dig haha) the Montreal metro (aka subway) in the 60s. The parc has Montreal's 6 flags amusement parc, pool, beach, casino and F1 race track and a bunch of outdoor activities year round. The chosen site for the Warped tour was along the race track area. I prefer the other side of the parc where the other music festivals are held (Osheaga and such). It's greener and more open.

It was middle of July and it was hot!! The tour organizers were genius is setting up a free water refilling station (which ended up being a giant mud pit at the end of the day, but really, no one cared). It was around 36C (about 98F), under a scorching sun. The name of the game for the day was water and sunscreen. The stages are open air, so while part of the pit can be covered from the sun, getting to and from the stages has you in the direct sun.

All in all, I had a fun time shooting, made some great images, met some awesome photographers and didn't get sunburned!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Montreal Jazz Fest -shooting with restrictions

My first full music festival is done! What a ride, what a rush, my feet hurt.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival is a little over week long world renown festival that has many of the world's great jazz, blues and even a few rock acts playing on a multitude of stages in the city.

I was lucky enough this year to snag an all access indoor media pass, giving me full access to all the indoor stages. I set my sights on 20 bands, including some greats like Tony Bennett, Blue Rodeo, Bootsy Collins and some festival favorites like Nikki Yanofsky and Montreal's own Men Without Hats, playing their first show in the city in 20 years.

The biggest thing I learned in my 10 days were shooting with restrictions. I'm used to the 3 songs and out standard rule. But this time around, we had 2 songs and even 1 song and out. In most instances, our mobility was also restricted to a certain side of the stage, rarely up front. I also got to see how some artists really don't want to be photographed, such as Collin James who gave us a 3 song limit, but only showed up in the 2nd song, and stayed to the back of the stage, sitting behind a mic. I also had the total opposite with Dee Dee Bridgewater who gave us 2 songs, but spent most of her time on the side where the media was, giving us some looks and poses. She was true class.

Here are some of my favorites from the 20 bands that I had the opportunity to shoot

Mr Tony Bennett.
84 years old, but still holding those high notes and looking like he is having such a great time on stage.

The funkmaster himself, Bootsy Collins. He was gracious enough to allow the media to stay for his entire set!

Men Without Hats

I became a new fan of Trombone Shorty

One the classiest women I had the opportunity to shoot, Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater

She first went on stage at the age of 12 at the Jazz Festival 5 years ago. At 17, her voice is simply amazing! Nikki Yanofsky

Full galleries for each of these artists and others like Collin James, Oliver Jones, Marianne Faithful, Sly Johnson, Lee Fields and Blue Rodeo are up in the Galleries section of my website (link on the top right of the blog) Check 'em out, lemme know what you think!!