While most people will remember today as the one year anniversary of Michael Jacksons death, but to me June 25th 2009 was the day I shot my very first gig.
It was a baptism of fire. I was armed only with my D80 and a 50mm f1.8. I had no previous experience really. I’d been to some gigs as a punter with a camera before, but this was a whole different kettle of fish. There were rules now – three songs only, no flash. And a rake of other photographers. Four overall, including myself. I thought this was the norm at the time, but have since learned it’s about three more than usual. The misfits were – and still are – big news to their fans. The queue had started an hour before the doors even opened – two and a half hours before the band were due onstage. And they were freaks. All waxed up hair, odd piercings and gloomy looks. I was a bit out of place with my ‘Travis ’01’ tee shirt…
I was no way prepared for this gig. There was one light. A neon blue lazer that shots around the crowd. The band were in practical darkness. Intentionally obviously – they were so old the thick layers of make-up had worked its way into their wrinkles. There were fans on each band member, presumably to keep them alive. I was shitting meself – My first assignment and I was looking at an instant fail. Thankfully, I panicked and adjusted my settings down and shot continuously for the first two songs. A quick check at my screen between shots showed nada. Pure black. At f/1.8, 1/40 and ISO at about 1250 (the D80 doesn’t really handle it well at anything higher than that) it was black shot after black shot.
Then, there was a flash from the front row. Someone had a camera and their flash went off at exactly the same time as I took my picture. It was all I needed. One picture that was usable. Nice and sharp and good focus about the eye area. The relief was immense. I kept on shooting, but got very little else.
The image was used on State, which was a nice relief too, but I always felt there should have been at least one more.
Thankfully it’s gotten better since. Some gigs have three usable pictures these days!