I didn’t have plans for the Super Bowl this year, which meant I probably wasn’t going to watch it since I don’t have cable (or an antenna). I heard on the local rock radio station, KROQ, about their Super Bowl party at the Hard Rock Café at Universal CityWalk with a post-game concert featuring AWOLNATION. I realized I knew the head of marketing for Red Bull Records which, is the label for AWOLNATION, so I let him know I was “available” to shoot them live hoping I might at least get an invitation to watch the game. Friday night I got an email saying they wanted to hire me to shoot the band.
I didn’t quite know what the shooting situation was and what kind of access I would have to the stage so I needed to cover my bases with my lenses. I figured the 70-200mm lens would be my main lens and also brought a 17-40mm, 90mm tilt/shift and a 15mm fisheye. In retrospect, I wish I would have brought a 24-70mm and left the 17-40mm and tilt/shift at home.
I love shooting from this angle with a shallow depth-of-field.
I showed up after the game started and was able to check out the stage. It looked like I was going to be able to get right up front. Fortunately, the Hard Rock was right next to the stage so I headed in, managed to get a table and was able to watch most of a really good game (I missed the hail-mary at the end while I was getting into position).
Just before the band started I, along with several other photographers were let in at the front of the stage. It was a medium-size stage and we were really close. I set my bag up center-stage with all the caps off the lenses so I could quickly change lenses. Bringing the 70-200 was like bringing a cannon to a knife fight (no pun intended). I fired off a couple of test shots to make sure my exposure was correct and started get the adrenalin, “let’s get this going” jitters.
The bad came on and it was go time. I started with the wide zoom and everyone was moving around to get different angles. We had the run of the width of the stage but not a lot of back-to-front room. I think we all did a good job of balancing between staying out of each other’s way and getting the shot we wanted. I could get close enough that I was able to get some really cool shots with the fisheye lens.
Catching the Full stage with a 15mm fisheye, a great concert lens if you can get close enough.
It was so much different than the planned studio and location shoots I am used to doing. It was a little like shooting sports. There was a lot of movement, which I had no control over and the lighting was constantly changing on the stage. Things we just happening and I need to put myself in the best position to capture them. I shot over 460 frames in less than 30 min.
I had forgotten how much fun it was to shoot live music. I think I got some great shots and I hope the guys at Red Bull Records agree. I’d like to shoot more for them and maybe even get a chance to do promo and album shoots for them.
To check out a gallery of images from the show, click here.