The difference a year makes…

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do a reshoot of the Elders back at the awesome O’Malley’s Pub in Weston, Missouri. A year ago we did a shoot in the famous cellar bar/concert part of the venue, and it was fantastic because it was something I had wanted to do for years, so that was a huge deal for me and the pics got a terrific response. However, I almost immediately began to wish I had done certain things differently with the lighting, and the set up, and the posing, and the camera angle, etc etc…but I never expected to get another chance to get the band in there; Weston is not exactly a quick jaunt to gather everyone for, especially with one of the band members, Colin, commuting from Florida for gigs with the band. (Click following image to see larger size.)

The Elders at O'Malley's Weston 2014
The Elders publicity photo at O’Malley’s Pub in Weston, Missouri, January 2014.

So when I got the band’s newsletter a couple of weeks ago announcing a special gig back at O’Malley’s this month, I was jumped all over it and called Steve (lead guitar) to ask him if they would mind if I came back and reshot the band. And it wasn’t just about the lighting or my photographic technique, but one of the comments a fan of the band made was that last year’s pics didn’t show the band “smiling” enough; they were a “happy” band whom people had a good time seeing. I voiced that to Steve, and he agreed, noting that Ian in last year’s pic has his arms crossed, which is sort of universally taken as stand-offish and unapproachable…which the Elders certainly are not. So I took that into account, too, when I began planning the reshoot in my head.

So yesterday we do the shoot and it was interesting, because even though I had done it last year and had an idea of how to light it, setting up and getting everything “just right” ended up taking me a lot longer than last year…I guess I kept tweaking by switching out the colored gels on the background lights, not liking it and switching to a different color, and then reshooting a test shot, still not liking it and either switching to a third colored gel or going back to the original color. And all that running up and down the steps to reach each light (all of the lights were hotshoe flashes while the key light was a strobe) kinda takes it toll over several hours, lol.

I got there about two hours before the band, and fine tuned the lights while the band set up and did their sound check, and meanwhile they end up a bit behind schedule and we didn’t get to shoot until 6:35, over a half hour after the doors were supposed to open for the guests, who were waiting in line up stairs (apparently one guy even got sick and vomited…! He still trucked on and enjoyed the show). And so we did the photos in lightning fast succession…literally, four and a half hours of fine tuning the lights for, again, literally, ten full minutes of pics with the band (I checked the time on the first pic and the last pic…ten minutes, exactly).

The Elders at O'Malley's Weston 2015
The Elders publicity photo at O’Malley’s Pub in Weston, Missouri, February 2015.

So they turned out great. (Click preceding image to see larger size.) I’m not sure if people will be able to see the “difference” from last year’s photos…but it was always just the little things technique-wise for me, like altering the angle of the key light, shooting at a tighter focal length (24mm instead of 16mm last year), and just as equally important, arranging the band in a way that made them more true to themselves: approachable, having fun, and being engaging, as opposed to last year’s “rock god” personas. And I think it makes a world of difference in the final photo.

It’s days like yesterday that really reinforce what I love about photography and the creative process involved: the planning, the set up, the execution, the comaraderie with the band, and the final result…and not to mention the ribeye steak dinner I had after it was all said and done 😉

The Elders at O'Malley's Weston Both 2014 and 2015
Side by side comparison.





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