taking it live

While I've taken the odd live photo using a flash before, I have only recently started to explore shooting live music without additional light sources. Because I only shoot with film and I don't have super huge lenses, I assumed that I couldn't achieve anything worthwhile. But the more I look into it, the more I see that there are a lot of interesting things I can do with the right film, the right settings and my modest cameras.

I have by no means mastered this; there is still a lot of trial and error happening. But seeing as the only way I have ever learnt anything photographic is through trial and error, I decided to stop worrying and start shooting.

I was pretty keen to make it to Money for Rope's album launch, as they are an incredible live band and never fail to turn it on when the chaos hits the stage. But I thought I might as well shoot it, too, so I went along with my camera and a couple of really fast rolls of film. I didn't know what to expect, and certainly there were a lot of lessons in there (read: failures). But these shots here are among the most successful and interesting. I like the dramatic lighting, I love the grain, and I think the movement visible in some of the shots works pretty well (especially the first and third shots).

What I've discovered is that when you're shooting with modest equipment, not using a flash, and only using film, you are almost completely at the mercy of the stage lighting and (of course) the performers. The lighting at Ding Dong was pretty good, though inevitably the guys at the front of the stage get more exposure in terms of light and photographs. That said, I luckily managed to capture the two drummers at times.

If I had a fancy digital camera with lots of lenses and I was possibly using a flash, I certainly would have taken very different photos. They would be crystal clear, they would be sharp, they would be probably in colour, and they would look a lot like many other great live photos that come from professional photographers shooting gigs like this. But they wouldn't have the gorgeous grain, they wouldn't have the atmospheric movement, they wouldn't have the little imperfections that film inevitably includes, and they wouldn't have the same level of character. They wouldn't look different, and they wouldn't look like my photos.

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