Monday, February 6, 2012

Las Vegas Concert Photography: George Strait and Martina McBride

Concert photography is hard work.  Sometimes you get a photo pit and sometimes you don't; you're left having to fight through crowds to get the shots.  Sometimes you get a nicely lit venue and sometimes you're forced to pull out a flash just to grab a few shots.  On the flip side of the last statement, sometimes you get a venue that has a lot of light, but uses it to backlight the performer, which turns all the photos into a silhouette—a cool effect for some photos, but not for all.  Sometimes you're limited from the normal three songs to just one or two.  Sometimes you have to deal with a stage setup that's far from ideal, leaving you with photos of the performer's back or, even worse, no photos at all.  There are a lot of variables that can affect whether the outcome of a concert photo shoot is a success.

Saturday night was my first time photographing a concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.  I've been to quite a few shows there as a paying customer so I thought I knew what to expect in terms of shooting the show.  I was wrong!  The stage, a huge octagon, was set up in the center of the arena, which according to my PR escorts, was a first.  Additionally, there was no designated photo pit, I was limited to the first two songs, and I'd be shooting Martina McBride from a completely different location than I'd be shooting George Strait.   Let the fun begin!

For Martina McBride, I was about 40 feet back.  She took the stage and immediately got the crowd roaring with one of her upbeat catchy songs.  I don't remember what it was because I was too busy trying to photograph my moving target.  She started off facing me, (fortunately) very well lit, but then quickly made her way around the stage stopping at various points so that people on opposite sides of the stage could see her without having to watch the overhead monitors.  She eventually came back around to my side of the stage, but the routine was quickly repeated, leaving me with maybe a total of 45 seconds between the two songs to capture my photos.

For George Strait, things were quite a bit different.  I was right at the foot of one of the sides of the stage along with one other photographer.  I guess he had been instructed to stay on our side for the first two songs.  He was beautifully lit and played right to us.  I was limited to two songs, but it didn't matter.  Everything else was perfect!

With some pop/rock artists, it seems like a game—make it as difficult as possible for the photographer to do the job, and once we leave they crank up the lights and the energy.  With most country artists this is definitely not the case!  Whether or not they appreciate the fact that a photographer is there to take their picture, or they're simply doing what someone told them to do, they make it very easy for a photographer to do their job.  Almost everything is always ideal—from great eye-contact, to amazing similes, to good lighting, to their position on stage relative to the lens.  So while I may not go running out to buy the latest George Strait album (he did sound quite good, though), or the albums of any other country artists, I will hold them in high respect, as they have made it very easy for me to do my job.

Pics from the show.  Click on any photo to be taken to the full gallery.











I love hearing from my readers.   You can follow me on Twitter or use the "Contact" button to get in touch, so feel free to send me your comments and let me know if you have any suggestions.  Please visit my the concert section of my website to see these and additional photos from all the shows.

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