Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sandra Bernhard in Seattle

This past Thursday June 21, 2012 Sandra Bernhard performed her first of what was to be 5 shows at the Triple Door Theater in Seattle.  The show is called "I love being me, don't you?"  The title refers to the overwhelming number of people that create Facebook and Twitter posts about the most mundane things in their life seeking some way to fill a void that most don't even realize exists.  I myself and very guilty of this, constantly seeking attention via social media.  In fact, as soon as I am done posting this blog I am going to post a link on my Facebook page even though I have already shared the photos there (thanks for coming by the way :)  Shameless I know but it's what I do.  It's probably what you do too. 

I had set up early in the morning and was shooting portraits for work with the same setup I was using for Sandra so I had a good idea of what I would be getting once she arrived.  It was essential I be prepared to pick up my camera and fire fast so she could get in and out.  I had promised her Manager the longest part of the shoot would be to make it 5 floors up the elevator to the room I had set up and that I would take no more than 3 or 4 photos and be done.

Sandra arrived at around 4pm and proceeded to sound check.  The rehearsal took longer than I had thought it would so I was getting nervous it wouldn't happen.  She was set to go on stage at 7:30 and after several hours of waiting on standby her Manager came and got me at 7:15 after she had put on a gorgeous dress that was to be a focal point of her show in just a few short minutes.  The pressure was on!  I was more determined than ever to be quick and efficient.  We got to my faux studio which was basically a glorified hotel room where I had haphazardly moved furniture around to create an open space large enough to hold my lights.  I was using 3 Elinchrome D Lights, a couple of 8 inch reflectors, a huge Octobank and a Profoto ringflash.  My models earlier in the day had commented a lot that the ringflash was pretty intense on the eyes so I was nervous it would bother Sandra right before the show.  On the contrary, when I gave her the disclaimer that the bare bulb was intense she knew the light well and told me to light it up!  She stood in position and immediately gave me an awesome look, I fired 3 shots and said "OK, were good."  She looked at me as though I were from the Moon Titan.  "Screw that, we're taking some pictures!" she said.  My heart skipped a beat!  I had remembered seeing her HBO special Sandra after Dark in the early 90s.  On that show she had Tom Jones as a guest so I was playing a Tom Jones CD on my daughter's boom box.  It was a depressing song on at the time though so Sandra told me that I needed to change it.  I fumbled around until I found the song She's a lady.  "Turn it up!" she instructed and I obliged.

She proceeded to dance and sing for the camera for then next 5 minutes and I was firing my new 5D Mark III away pushing the battery pack for the ringflash to the limit.  She has a way of being sexy, seductive, cool, fun, intense and funny all at the exact same time.  I don't think I have interacted with anyone like her in my life.  The song ended, the shoot ended, we gave each other a high 5 (I was wayyy to sweaty for a hug...tmi?)  and we walked back to the venue.

I met up with my beautiful Bride and we rushed into the venue where we had front row seats so I could fire off some shots of her show.  The show was hilarious.  She had myself and the rest of the audience cracking up from start to finish with her stories (my favorite was about the plumber).  Her mannerisms, wit and voice made the show extremely entertaining.  Her wardrobe change near the end of the show made it even more..err, for lack of a better word...stimulating.  Sandra Bernhard is about as awesome as it gets!  Go see her show!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

David and Cortney Married in Walla Walla

My friends David and Cortney together make one of those couples you see and can instantly tell they are perfect together. Two of the kindest people you will meet and it is so clear they are madly in love with each other. I was honored and thrilled when they asked me to shoot their wedding in Walla Walla on May 19, 2012.

I had never been to Walla Walla but have always wanted to visit. The wedding was the perfect opportunity. It is absolutely stunning out there. Endless hills along a long, windy highway covered with deep green Alfalfa set the backdrop for a peaceful town filled with some of the best wine created on the planet.

The wedding was as charming as I had ever seen. They had cut a large circle out of the tall grass adjacent to the vineyards at A'Maurice winery. The guests stood around the couple while they exchanged vows. Once the ceremony was done everyone headed back down to the winery where there was delicious wine, an amazing food truck responsible for creating the BEST hamburger I have ever had in my life! They had fun games at every table and on the grass. A giant Jenga game made of 2X4's was the biggest hit I think. Kite flying, hula hoops and good times abound. It was a perfect wedding day for a perfect couple. A small handful of pics are below. I've also created a slideshow that can be seen by clicking the link below as well as a link to the full gallery should you be interested in purchasing prints.

 Cortney and David Leischner Wedding Photo Slideshow

 Full Gallery Here


Friday, April 13, 2012

Gotye and Kimbra at the Showbox in Seattle

It's been a wild run the past couple of weeks for music for me. I've got lots of images to post on the blog so check back soon.

I simply couldn't wait to post the shots from Tuesday though. I can't think of a musician in the industry today that has more people buzzing in general than Gotye. If you haven't seen the video of his hit song Somebody that I used to know then you must have been living under a rock. I just checked the stats while typing this and saw that it has been viewed over 156 million times! I'm pretty sure that's a lot. That is even more than the bacon dog video on Youtube!

I must admit that other than the catchy hit song played on the radio over and over again I knew next to nothing about Gotye and absolutely nothing about Kimbra. Turns out I am the one that must have been living under a rock because Kimbra had a massive fan base and for great reason.

I was invited to shoot an End Session for KNDD before the sold out show at Showbox Sodo. It turned out that they did not want photos taken during the End Session as it was ultimately a sound check with a limited number of invited guests allowed to watch. My job was to shoot the meet and greet afterwards so once we were let into the venue I got to work setting up a softbox for a quick and simple shoot. I learned something at that time. It's really hard to set up a softbox and studio strobe in pitch black! I got it set up but really wasn't sure if I had my settings right as I didn't want to pop a strobe off in a dark venue during his performance. Immediately after he played a few songs for the lucky winners he came over to where I was. I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when he walked up to me with his hand outstretched and introduced himself to me as Wally. How can you not like a guy named Wally? It's impossible, he was instantly charming very gracious to allow me to snap a couple pics of him before meeting his fans. Once all the fan photos were done I asked if I could jump in to get a shot with him as well. You can see below that I chose to not do a standard photo. He was a very good sport about it and I think found me a bit odd to be honest. I can live with that. It's true.

I spoke with his Management and was ecstatic to be approved to shoot his show. It was kind of a bummer to not be allowed to shoot the sound check End session so this really boosted my spirits as the show itself proved to be really incredible.

The photo pit was designed for very skinny people which sadly, I am not. I squeeeeezed my way in and found the fans in the front row to be giddy with anticipation. Some I recognized from the meet and greet earlier in the day. Others had been camped out for a couple of hours to ensure a good spot in the packed house.

The show started with Kimbra as the opening artist. I think my jaw literally hit the floor as she was nothing short of stunning. Her beautiful smile and the twinkle in her eye made me a fan before I even heard her larger than life vocals. As she started to get in the groove of the show I realized that not only was she an amazing singer, she had some serious sass and swagger! I'm not sure I could put my finger on why but I was reminded a little bit of June Carter. Bottom line, I became a fan. I bought the EP she was selling at the venue for just $5 and learned that she has a CD coming out May 20. You can count on me buying it that day!

Next came Gotye. As I mentioned I had seen him during soundcheck with about 40 or 50 people watching so I figured I knew what to expect. It was quite a bit different with the venue stuffed to the max with around 2,000 screaming fans. The energy was intense! He hit the stage while a dramatic sunrise scene unfolded on the giant screen behind him. He started to hit his booming drums and the crowd became frenzied! I was standing about 2 feet away from him and once he started really laying into the drums I couldn't even see his hands moving they were going so fast. You can see in an image below that I shot at a fairly low shutter speed to accomadate for the dark lights how quickly his hands were flying. What impressed me was that looking at the entire series of images from that drum sequence, his head, upper arms and body barely moved. It was absolute and complete control and I found myself forgetting to take pictures as I was mesmerized by the performance. Watch a Gotye show and you will know immediately you are watching a musical genius. A vast array of diverse instruments, crazy sound effects and dramatic visual effects left me shaking my head in disbelief.

Gotye is the real deal. I strongly believe we are going to be seeing him around for a very long time. I for one am very excited about that.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Paul Rodgers at the D&R Theater in Aberdeen, WA

It was in San Francisco I was first truly introduced to the awesome music of Paul Rodgers. I've always known his music and can sing along to a pretty large number of his impressive list of hits but I never really appreciated the intensity and diversity until then. Whenever his video would hit the screen at the "restaurant" I worked for there was a server named Aisha that no matter where she was or what she was doing she would immediately scream at the top of her lungs "PAUL RODGERRRRRRRSSSS!" and she would run through the dining room whooping it up and singing along. I kid you not, once I saw her taking an order at a table when the video came on..she scared the crap out of her guests by instantly screaming in their face. It was awesome! Ever since, any time I hear a Paul Rodgers song or his name I instantly think of her. She now lives in Seattle with one of my favorite people on the planet Alex the Greek (who by no coincidence looks quite a bit like Paul Rodgers...hmmm) and is the lead singer of an all girl Soundgarden tribute band called Bleed Together. They are headlining at Neumo's on Monday 4/9 and you should go! I put a photo of them I shot a few weeks ago below in the photo gallery.

I digress...shooting for VerbicideMagazine.Com my features editor worked me onto the list of photographers for the Paul Rodgers show in Aberdeen at the BEAUTIFUL D&R Theater. His camp had written back and given me authorization to shoot the entire set which is very rare. They are considering using my photos for the Paul Rodgers web site which would be amazing! Shooting in Aberdeen on a stormy night is not as easy as it sounds. It took me the better part of 4 hours to get down there through rush hour traffic then another 2 and a half to get back. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The word epic is thrown around a lot these days and often it's an exaggeration. I can't think of a different word to describe this show though and I think it doesn't quite cover it.

Paul Rodgers epitomizes the word COOL! From the second he hit the stage until the end of the 2nd encore he was spinning his mic stand, jamming on the piano and blowing the crowds mind with intense, spot on perfect vocals for every one of his amazing songs. I shot over 1,900 photos that night and I would say that through 90% of the show I was singing along with him. So much fun! On lead guitar was one of the founding members of a band destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Heart Howard Leese. I had met him and several other members of Heart at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle (photo below, I'm the bald fat guy with the long beard on the right :) Talk about a guitar legend! I would forget to shoot when he was playing as I was captivated by his breathtaking skill and awe inspiring stage presence.

The entire night was one I will not forget. If you get a chance to see Paul Rodgers perform you have got to do it!