It’s Been a ClubZone Summer

It’s been a while since my last post but winter is upon us and the slow period during the colder months should let me get back to my old posting schedule. I’ve been extremely busy this summer which has been a big bonus as far as revenue is concerned, but it’s really put a damper on my creative photographic outlets. The more commercial work I drummed up, the less and less time I spent just having fun with photography. After four straight nights of shooting every weekend as well as a day job spare time becomes a precious commodity.

I don’t want to sound negative though, this summer has been my most successful to date when it comes to trying to make photography a financially successful. I’ve been shooting 3-4 nights a week for ClubZone since May, and through them have gotten a weekly column in 24 Hours, which has been great for exposure. Shooting clubs has also gotten me connections to quite a few people in the Ottawa modelling community, which is starting to pay off with modelling shoots and headshot commissions. I even got a spread in this months Faces Magazine and will have pictures in an upcoming issue of Umm Magazine.

Halloween was a great time to be shooting clubs as well, with the Monster Fashion Show at Mansion being by far the most fun event I shot over the Halloween Weekend. More pics will be forthcoming as I go through the backlog these last couple months have created in my editing queue but for now here’s a sample of Halloween on my Flickr. Stay tuned as well as I slowly make my way through developing the dozen or so rolls from this summers street photography, sitting in the fridge.

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Two Pieces Accepted in AOE – Selections 2009

 AOE - Selections 2009

As I mentioned previously, I had entered four pieces into the Arts Ottawa East – Selections 2009 juried exhibit at the Trinity Gallery in the brand new Shenkman Arts Centre. Well, the jury is in and I had two pieces accepted to the show: An Urban Aesthetic and Post No Bills.

The exhibit opens on October 1st, but I’ll be attending the opening reception on the 7th from 7-9pm. There’s around forty different artists taking part so there should be something for everyone.

I had a hard time choosing only four images to enter, especially since it was a completely open exhibit, with no pre-selected theme or guidelines for submission. I wasn’t sure whether I should select four that spanned the complete range of my collection or concentrate on one style or subject matter. Originally I had quite a few of my colour shots in the short list I was considering for selection, but I took the advice of another photographer and chose a set of four black and whites to submit in order to keep the set looking focused as a group. Seems to have worked out in the end; Post No Bills was even selected to be on the promo card for the show, shown here to the left.

Stay tuned after the event for photos from the opening as I’ll be shooting the opening reception for Arts Ottawa East as well as attending as a featured artist.

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Nick Cave at The Ottawa Writers Festival

I was going to write about the juried exhibit I got accepted to, but that will have to wait, I couldn’t pass on doing a quick write up on seeing Nick Cave at the Ottawa Writers Festival.

When I first heard he was going to be in town, I assumed it was going to be with The Bad Seeds, but it turned out he’s on a book signing tour for his new novel The Death of Bunny Munro. Nick Cave is still Nick Cave so of course we went, and I’m glad we did.

Nick’s hilarious, and the excerpts he read from his book has convinced me to go pick it up. His talk wandered from his history with The Bad Seeds to his new band Grinderman, his previous book, And the Ass Saw the Angel, and even his failed attempt at pitching a script for Gladiator II (long story short, Russell Crowe beats up purgatory, then the Christians, then goes on to fight every war in history… alone).

I was in a pretty good position this time, last time at this venue I was mostly behind a three foot thick cement column. The light was pretty low and really pushed what Image Stabilization and the excellent hi iso capabilities of my 50D, it’s still comes as a shock that I can go all the way up to iso 3200 and still get usable files.

Definitely check out The Death of Bunny Munro if you get the chance, or pick up the audio book read, scored and with sound effects all by Mr. Cave himself. You can see a few more shots of Nick Cave on my Flickr.

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i(heart)music festival @ Cafe Dekcuf

Modernboys Moderngirls by J B Hildebrand

Matthew Pollesel founded i(heart)music in 2005 and has been doing an amazing job bringing lesser known Canadian acts to the masses since then. This weekend was the massive i(heart)music festival at Cafe Dekcuf. Spanning three nights and bringing together twelve great Canadian acts the festival was a blast. I missed a couple of the bands but the acts I did catch were amazing. You can find a full list of who was on stage at i(heart)music.net.

I won’t bother with a review of the show or my favorites as all the bands were top notch. They all put on a great show with a unique stage presence. I’ve wrote before about looking and playing the part being majorly important for emerging bands, this goes double when you’re playing in a twelve band, three day festival. Usually I have to make notes on each band so I can sort out my shots later, but everyone I shot stuck out in my mind visually and this wasn’t a problem.

I see so many bands that sound great, but look like mannequins on stage. If you’re playing a festival like this, you’ve probably got a decent fan base, but most people at the show were there to see one, maybe two bands, each night and hadn’t heard of the rest. This is a prime time to spread the word and you MUST leave people with an impression that’s going to stick, or they’re probably not going to remember you the next day. This is one of the biggest problems I’ve found shooting big festivals. If bands don’t have a unique look or stage presence… I end up with 500 shots of what may as well all have been of just one band. Luckily this wasn’t the case, every band I shot gave me a great set of pics to post.

Like bees to honey, shows like this always attract photographers and there was a really good turn out all three nights. I’ve got a slightly different style than most photogs I meet at shows around Ottawa but it seems to work for me.

First off… I rarely use flash. For one it bugs some performers, especially in a really dark club. Most bands are used to people in the crowd popping away with point and shoots, but the flashes on something that small aren’t really that annoying. Put two or three photographers blasting away at point blank range with pro flashes at center stage though and it’s enough to throw anyone off their game.

Giant Hand by J B Hildebrand

Secondly and more importantly for me… I hate the look a flash gives at concert. There’s a reason most bars turn the lights down really low… they look like crap in the light. If you take a look at most stages with the house lights on they’re hardly more than a raised wooden box with wires running along the walls, up the walls and on the ceilings. Half the time the walls and ceiling aren’t even finished, they’re just drywall or plywood painted black. Some bars don’t even have a permanent stage, it’s just a corner of the bar re-purposed for that night. Take this craptastic wooden platform, turn the lights off and throw on some spots… and suddenly magic! Same with the band… with the house lights on they’re a bunch of guys in plaid shirts and jeans, put a spot on them and suddenly they’re rock stars. Given this… why would I want to blast the band with half a million lumens of daylight balanced flash power and kill the mood completely. If I wanted my pics to look like that I may as well have brought my point and shoot like everyone else and left all my expensive gear at home because the pictures will look about the same.

Lastly, I tend to stay in one spot for most of the show. I come early, figure out where the best place to shoot from is going to be and camp out. I have all my exposure levels figured out before hand for all the main stage areas and I know what each of my lenses are going to see from my spot. I might move around a bit during the show, but not much. For one, this lets me be more consistent with my exposures as I’m not having to adjust for every new position. Also, it means I’m not bumping into people annoying them… and more importantly, my gear isn’t being bumped into by a hoard of energized… and inebriated… concert goers holding drinks, dancing around and definitely not thinking about the guy weaving between them with a big camera and unwieldy camera bag. I may miss some shots by not crowd surfing, but the last thing I need is to have a rye and coke dumped on two grand worth of camera equipment.

It’s always nice to find a new band to listen to, this weekend will probably keep my playlist fresh for months. There wasn’t a band a wouldn’t recommend so if you get a chance to see any of them live… do it. You can see more shots from the i(heart)music festival on my Flickr.

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Loudlove in the Studio

Loudlove in the Studio by J B Hildebrand

Last week I was on assignment for the Kitchissippi Times out to shoot Loudlove, who are in the middle of recording a new album here in Ottawa at the Liverpool Court Studios. I managed to slip in for a quick shoot while the band was taking a break from recording. I went in to this job blind and on short notice… which is never ideal… but luckily the guys were very accommodating. I was expecting to grab some shots of the band while they where laying down a track, but by the time I got there they where already done playing and about to work on the mixing.

I ended up lining them up behind the mixing board, which had a nice wall behind it and some cool stuff piled on the sides to create a nice frame for the image. It’s always nice to shoot a band that isn’t camera shy. They basically just goofed off for ten minutes while I snapped away, which from the short time I spent with them seemed to be their base state of being.

I’ve been asked by a few other photographers why I usually carry about three times more gear than I will ever need for a shoot… this is why. I often have no idea what I’ll need till I get there and I’ll take a sore back if it means I have what I need to get the shot. Also, people seem to take you more seriously the more gear you lug around even if you never touch most of it during a shoot… it’s one of those psychological things I don’t quite understand but am happy to take advantage of.

I ended up getting what I needed and the article will be out in the Kitchissippi Times today. If you can’t wait for the album they’re laying down now you can see Loudlove at the Ottawa Reggae Festival this Sunday at 8:00pm. You can check out my Flickr for some more shots from the shoot with Loudlove.

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Apocalyptica at Capital Music Hall

Apocalyptica at Capital Music Hall

Every once in a while you luck in to an amazing opportunity… last fall I lucked in big. I was heading out for lunch at work when three big black tour buses pulled up to the curb. A roady jumped out and asked me if I knew where Capital Music Hall is… which is a common question as the thing is impossible to find as it’s only got a non-descript black door on where the address should be, it’s main entrance is on the back of the building on a completely different street.

I told him where it was, and asked who was playing there tonight out of curiosity. Turns out it was APOCALYPTICA!!!!! A favorite of mine for a long time, I had completely forgotten they where playing because it sold out months ago. The roady was so thankful he gave me a couple free passes to the show, they had been looking for the place for hours. I asked if it was cool if I brought my camera and he gave me a full access media pass!

The show was absolutely amazing. They put me in front of the crowd barrier where I was so close I had a hard time fitting them in the frame sometimes. I thought there would be a bunch of other photographers there, as they had a catwalk set out for them, but I was alone and had the run of the stage. You can see more from the show on my Flickr.

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Westfest 2009

Westfest 2009

This was my first time at this festival and it was a lot of fun. Tons of things to shoot, from street performers, clowns, musicians and art galleries to the people watching it all. I must have taken a dozen or more shots of the clown show on the left alone.

The main thing I like about shooting festivals is that you can walk around with a big camera and no one will pay attention to you because they’ve seen ten other people in the same get up. People are expecting to get caught in photos so they’re more relaxed around cameras and usually having too much fun to even realize they’re under the lens. A great time for candid street shooting.

I regret I was only carrying one camera; I really could have used my medium format gear that day… oh well… there’s always next year.

I also regret missing The Acorn performing on the last day of the festival, but thunderstorms loomed and I really thought the Sunday night show would be rained out for the second year in a row. More from Westfest 2009 can be seen on my Flickr.

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