[Dot Dot Dot Part One]
It was the fourth of December and I was with some friends at a bar, The Bluebird, for Dot Dot Dot’s concert; I think I have seen about five of their shows on various occasions. Chicago-based Dot Dot Dot plays a set that includes original songs such as “All Be Alright,” “Smile” and “Stay,” and covers current and past hit songs like “Poker Face,” “Yellow,” “Footloose” and even Nintendo ditties; their punky stage style balances out their charming pop songs and personalities. Dot Dot Dot performed a great show, which paired nicely with a couple of blue Dirty Birds down the throat and a couple of good friends dancing along by my side.
During the concert, one of my friends had tweeted Dot Dot Dot and tagged me in the tweet as well. When Dot Dot Dot read it later, they approached me on Twitter for an opportunity to photograph their “winter formal”-themed show at The Bluebird on January 28, a show planned and pulled together since. [Plog coming soon]
In preparation for that show, although I will mainly be taking fan portraits, I went to The Bluebird to see Dot Dot Dot again to basically practice photographing inside the venue and check how my Sony DSLR works with the rapid, colorful changes of stage lighting. Luckily they had a show January 11 before the winter formal, and it fell on a day of two friends’ 21st birthdays and they both wanted to go to the concert. Also, it was on a Wednesday and no one can beat 15 cent domestic beers!
And so I went to the show and chatted with my friends and photographed the band. I always feel like I have a “warming up” period of shooting where I am adjusting to the environmental conditions and testing out various methods of shooting such as longer exposures, fast-action speeds, etc. For me, this shoot was experimental and new.
Concerts are difficult to photograph because of many factors: the stage, the lights, the fog machines, the crowd and the angles of everything. The Bluebird is dark and dimly lit but has overpowering, bright, saturated stage lights. In order to switch it up I took photos at various spots surrounding the stage, including from the room that looks onto the stage, the middle, elevated platform, and atop benches against the walls. I was not going to barge my way and intrude upon anyone that drunkenly claimed their territories by mounting themselves front and center of the stage. But for the second set that Dot Dot Dot played, one kind person moved and offered me his spot at the front brink of the stage, where I was able to capture photographs directly under Little Lisa as she kicked in her knee-high boots.
It takes as much preparation to plan to get shots or it is just luck. When I say preparation, I mean everything from charging batteries ahead of time and bringing extra memory cards, knowing how the lights will move and change at certain parts of certain songs, to seconds-before-the-action-knowing what apertures and shutter speeds to set for predicting a performer’s physical movements. Since I am mainly photojournalistic in how I shoot, it works to my advantage in this case because I know I do not have control over the elements of the scene, much like in photojournalism, and that is where I am beginning to see the difference between photojournalism and photography. Concerts are tricky to shoot, but working around variables adds to the challenge and the fun of shooting performances.