Rasputina: Great American Gingerbread Tour

A few years ago I had the opportunity to shoot Apocalyptica right here in Ottawa not 50 ft from where I work, actually. At the time I thought it would be the greatest show I’d ever get to shoot. Not only is Apocalyptica visually an amazing band to photograph but they’re one of my favorites musically as well. Well last month I did one better.

Rasputina is a band that is completely undefinable, they don’t easily slot into any of the conventional musical genres when you look at their discography as a whole. They’ve toured with everything from Marylin Manson, to traditional folk musicians. They slip from haunting sea shanties to grungy industrial ballads and the incongruity makes them all the more enthralling.

They’ve been in my top five bands list since I first heard them on Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge, back in the early nineties when Alternative was actually an alternative to rock and pop and the station still played stuff you don’t hear on the top 20 stations. I never thought I’d ever get a chance to see them, let alone shoot one of their shows as they hadn’t been to Canada for over a decade. When I heard they’d be coming to Lee’s Palace in Toronto I grabbed a ticket immediately even though it’s a 6 hour bus ride away.

It took me a while to figure out exactly who I’d have to contact to get permission to shoot the show, but eventually I got a hold of the promoter for the venue got it all worked out. I had my ticket, I had my photo pass now I just had to figure out what the hell I was going to do at 2am after the show on a freezing February night, when the next bus out was at 7am. I ended up finding a hostel right across from the bus station, Backpackers On Dundas. If you ever need a place to crash in TO, I highly recommend them. For $24 a night I got a very clean bed in the heart of down town Toronto. The staff was great and so were the other guests. I was kind of hesitant as I’ve heard hostel horror stories from friends but I actually can’t wait to hit them up again on my next trip through town.

On a kind of side note on getting permission to shoot the show, I’ve noticed a new trend when it comes to concert photography. You can usually tell by the venue as to whether you’ll need prior permission to bring a camera. There’s obviously places like big stadiums or concert halls where it’s a no-brainer that you’ll need to be on someone’s list, and with small venues and local acts it’s rarely ever a problem, but there’s a middle ground where you’re not quite sure if the band or the venue is big enough that there might be an issue if you just show up with a pro camera.

I went the safe route with this show because I didn’t want to risk being turned away. I was told in no uncertain terms by both the venue and the promoter that nothing bigger than a cell phone or point and shoot would be allowed if I didn’t get approved. I got on the list and when I got to the club I was told the standard “first three songs, no flash” rules and got settled. As the place started to fill up I noticed quite a few people with DSLR’s though and after a few conversations it turned out I was the only one that actually had permission to shoot. DSLRs are becoming so common now that many bouncers don’t blink an eye at them anymore. On one hand, I like shooting with permission as I usually get access to the best shooting spots and I know I’m not going to be turned away at the door. However having to stick to the venues first three song rules and other restrictions can be annoying. It’s going to be very interesting to see how photography rules evolve as cameras become more proliferate and smaller and smaller. I just picked up the Sony Nex 3 as my traveling camera when I don’t want to lug the whole SLR rig around, it’s got the same size sensor as my DSLR and promises to have every bit as

good image quality. Ten years ago when DSLRs were upwards of $10,000 and marketed to serious professionals exclusively, I never thought I’d own one, now they’re everywhere. Now we’re seeing the next evolution, a camera with every bit as good a sensor as my Canon that fits in my pocket. It’s not going to replace my Canon kit for serious shoots, but it’s going to be a great alternative when I have to go without my pro gear, and it’s only a matter of time before the pocket camera rises right to the level of the monster DSLRs I’m used to.

However the photography rules turn out in the future, I’m sure I’ll find a way to adapt. I love shooting concerts and this one in particular gave me another check on my bucket list. Rasputina is a band I never thought I’d get to see live and being able to shoot them was icing on the cake. You can see the rest of my shots from the Rasputina concert at Lees Palace on my Flickr.

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