The 7th Annual Insurance Institute Battle of the Bands

For the last 7 years (well, skip 2-3 years as I missed a few), I have been the photographer at the Insurance Institute’s Battle of the Bands charity fundraiser. I don’t consider myself that much of a band photographer (as much as I am a documentary photographer) but I do have a somewhat vast history in music, bands and performances and thus bringing my documentary eye to this brings me a great amount of joy.

After years of having crazy loud speakers blaring in my ears, on the advice of a good friend of mine, I ended up purchasing industrial ear plugs. This saved me from those crazy headaches I’d get the day after the event or the ringing in my ears during.

Photographing in the Blarney Stone presents some crazy lighting challenges. I have in some cases opted for flash (mainly if people want the occasional portrait group shot) but 99% of the time I’m using the existing lighting that is there… and there HAS to be lighting or else… well, how are you going to see the band? Haha. I’ve opted for very fast lenses and shooting at much higher ISO’s (like 1600 or 3200 sometimes), but I’ve found that the best technique is waiting for the rotating strobe lights to illuminate the person at the right time. My style of documentary photographer isn’t simply just blasting away frames with no consideration. I concentrate, wait for the composition, observe, breathe, move to a different angle if I’m getting nothing, feel the flow of the music, observe the rhythm of the strobe lights (they tend to operate in set sequences) and wait for it all to light up and then… click, click click! …

The first image looks like the girl is holding a cigarette and a pack but it’s actually a pen and a stamp button (I think). I do like the “classic” feel of the image and the pose. As you go further into the band photos, you’ll see my tendency to get up close. For a majority of this event, I shot with just one lens: the 24mm F1.4 lens (on an APS-H sensor). That meant I was most likely 2-3 feet away from the people in order to get the closer shots. In some cases, there guitar was right in my face, the speaker-monitors were blaring right in front of me and a whole gaggle of guests were dancing and having a great time behind me.