So… I’ve been working a lot, shooting for a range of clients, it’s been filling my days and I’m stoked on what I’ve been doing. Lately though, I’ve been feeling like something is missing and I’m not entirely fulfilled with photography. After a bit of introspection, I realize that almost every time I close that shutter, it’s for a client. I’ve spent little time on personal projects and I need to get back to shooting for me. Going through past personal projects, I came across the one that started it all. Documenting bands in the studio.
When I first started to take photography seriously, I was working in the music industry as an aspiring recording engineer. The studio I was working at had a 2 or 3 megapixel digital camera that I would play around with on my off time. I was shooting my surroundings, the staff at the studio, instruments, gear and eventually the bands that would come through. It was about this time that we had Eddie Kramer working in one of the rooms. Eddie, known for his recordings of Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, was also an accomplished photographer. During those monumental sessions, he would document them, capturing the artists doing what they do best. I think Eddie was working on the 5.1 mixes of the Monterey Pop Festival when he had worked it out with the studio owner to have a gallery showing of some of his prints at the studio. I remember helping Eddie unpack the framed prints and helping him hang and place them throughout the building, listening to some of the stories behind these photos. This was the perfect example of being in the right place at the right time. There were intimate moments of everybody from Zappa to Hendrix to Led Zeppelin to The Stones, all working in the studio, making music. I was hooked.
I realized I essentially had the same access and opportunity as Eddie Kramer and within the intimate setting of a recording session, I was in the unique position to play the “fly on the wall” and document what was happening. I quickly became obsessed with photography and providing a visual record of an artist’s journey in making a record. These are very personal moments for bands, their guards are down and they are at their most vulnerable, so it is very important to me to maintain the integrity of the session. As a engineer, the first things you learn working in a major studio are studio etiquette and studio awareness. You learn how to blend into the walls and how to anticipate when you are needed. You learn how to read a room and how to stay out of the way when tensions get high. I’ve seen plenty of photographers come in to shoot bands and totally disrupt a session by jumping in and giving their opinions, moving microphones, walking in to vocal booths during vocal takes, and by them not really understanding that the recording session is not a photo shoot.
Since I’ve moved out of the recording industry, these types of opportunities are a bit more limited but it is something I am still very passionate about. I want to make more time to continue this personal project and to work with new artists. These are important moments that should be captured and I want to be part of it.
If you are in a band, know somebody in a band, work with a band, etc., I’d love to come down and help document! Email me firstname.lastname@example.org