Thursday, March 25, 2010

Goodbye, Jim

Yesterday the overlapping worlds of photography and music got some very sad news. Legendary Rock and Roll photographer Jim Marshall died in his sleep.

For anyone who is into Rock music and/or photography, even if you didn't know this man's name, you knew his work. His iconic images included those of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and many more. I will have to admit that I wasn't as familiar with his work as I wished I could have been, but I did know his most popular images, and I did know they were his, so at least I can say that much.

Jim was a game-changer through his skill and attitude. He really set the bar pretty high for guys like myself, and in fact, he set it impossibly high because nowadays you just cannot get the kind of access that he would demand. He would not shoot a subject unless he could be around them 24/7 and these days you just don't get permission to do that. So many artists these days are overprotective of their image, which is understandable, but also makes it very hard to get more than 5 minutes with them, and forget about actually owning your work. Most music celebrities these days have you fill out paperwork signing over your work to them so they have the legal right to say where and when it can be used. Not everyone does it, but there are quite a few, and of course it's the bigger names that can get away with asking such a thing. But Jim never signed a single release form; he refused to. If he wasn't allowed to shoot his way, then he wouldn't shoot. He had a real "fuck 'em if they don't like it" attitude that probably got him more respect than grief; again, the opposite of how it would work today.

The thing is, Jim was photographing Rock and Roll when it was still relatively new, and although there always was and always will be Rock star egos, Jim knew how to break through and get to the person behind the persona.

His website displays some of his most well-known work. He's most famous for his classic images of Johnny Cash giving the finger to the camera and Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar on stage.

Jim Marshall did what we all hope to do at some point; he lived with his subjects, he followed their every move, he captured more than their image, he captured their essence. The man had an eye that makes most of us green with envy. With Jim it was more about knowing why to get the shot, rather than how to get the shot.

I will give Jim the respect, from one photographer to another, to not link his images directly here. They are displayed on his website and will be there until whoever is in charge decides it's time to take them down.

More soon,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unrequited Acoustic Music Video

If you've been following my blog for a while, then you remember when I posted about the band Unrequited that came by DIGImmortal Photo's studio last year for a photo shoot. You can see those photos here.

At the time of that shoot we had tried taking some video of lead guitarist/vocalist Nick Vallese performing an acoustic version of their song "Black & White" - The video didn't pan out very well so we never put it out there for anyone to see. There were audio problems, and quite frankly the video setup wasn't that wonderful, either. I told Nick we'd give it some time and try it again at a later date once I got the audio issues figured out.

A few months, a couple of firmware updates, and an investment into a solid video mic later, we got together again to reshoot. This time I had better lighting prepared, a better method of recording video and audio, and plenty of time to take multiple angles.

I won't lie, there were issues. First off, I'm only just finding out something that, apparently, many 5D Mark II shooters have been aware of. The camera doesn't produce files that are easy to edit. This is because it uses a relatively new video compression that most software chokes on. This also changes the way you have to output the final video. Lots of transcoding going on to get these clips to work. In the end though, it's worth it for the great results you get. I edited using Final Cut Express, which took a bit of learning, but I'm happy with the results. In all it took about a week between research, editing, scrapping the project and starting over, re-editing, more research, and final output, which is pretty darn good in my opinion, considering I work a day job and always have multiple projects going.

I plan on doing a full band video shoot with Unrequited in the near future. They are finishing up recording of their new album and we are going to pick a song from that to release as a video. It will be much more intense to shoot and edit, but I'm up for the challenge, as long as the band is OK with miming the same song about 800 times in a weekend. (Not fun)

Also on the horizon is a video shoot for a new track from Steve Bello Band, which will be taken from their upcoming album Go Berzerk! which will be a lot of fun to film as well. Steve and I have been throwing around the idea of putting out a DVD with the content for him, since I've already put up a poorly filmed and edited teaser for a new track, and we plan on doing a video of the next rehearsal as well, on top of the official video (whenever we get to that). So there would be plenty of material to put on a DVD and I'm sure we can work up some extra bonuses to package in there along with all of that.

Before we get to the video, though, what do you think: Would you be interested in buying a physical DVD from an independent band? Physical music sales, as CDs or music videos on DVD are way down, but for some people this is the way they make a living and get known. If a band like Unrequited or Steve Bello Band put out a self-produced DVD with a music video, video interviews, photo galleries, and other extras, would you be willing to shell out a few bucks to help support unsigned artists? Leave a comment and let us know!

At long last, here is the video. You can get it from either YouTube or Vimeo. Personally, I prefer Vimeo's player as well as their quality, but YouTube did a good job of rendering this video, just make sure you select 720HD for the quality.

Unrequited - "Black & White" (Acoustic) from DIGImmortal Photo on Vimeo.
The HD is turned off in the embedded video above, go to the video itself through the link in the previous paragraph to view in full HD quality.

For info on how to get YOUR band a music video shoot from DIGImmortal Photo, just email me through the site, or leave a comment here and I'll get back to you!

Don't forget you can also follow me on Twitter and be kept up-to-date on new projects, new photos, what I'm eating for lunch, and my thoughts on absolutely nothing useful.

That's all for now, but more soon,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mind in the Gutter

This shot was my 365 photo for yesterday, March 11, 2010.

This project has been tough and there are days/nights where I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to complete the task for the day. Last night on my way out of the house I noticed this soda can laying in the curb by my car. It hadn't been there all week, yet it looked like it'd been there for a year. It was crunched, dirty, rusty in spots and conveyed a general sense of despair. Yeah, us photographers are nuts, we can start sensing feeling in inanimate objects. I was looking at it and the composition it could create within a photo, and I knew I had to shoot it, but I was already running late. So I got in my car and just hoped it would still be there later.

Well, I did my running around for the night and surely enough, when I got back, there was my sad looking little can. It was so lonely looking, just laying there in the gutter like that. I guess it's the mood I've been in lately. Hell, the mood most people have been in lately. But it spoke to me, it had meaning behind it, and it would be a shame not to document how life imitates art, or however that saying goes ;)

The basic idea of how to get the shot I wanted came to be pretty easily (Hey, I guess this project is paying off after all.). But it would require being eye level with the subject. So yeah, there I was at 1AM laying in the street with a camera in my hand and a speedlight flash in the middle of the road, on a corner. Thankfully my street isn't very busy at night or this entry might have a different ending!

I knew that the texture of the gritty can worked perfectly with the rough pavement and the abused looking cement curb. I also knew that the textures played into their respective colors perfectly. The black of the pavement, the bright-yet-faded yellow of the curb, and the once-was-green of the soda can really meshed. It was a dynamic bunch of colors and textures. I purposely hit it with pretty direct, harsh light, to really bring out the gritty textures of the street and the dirt on the can.

I just love how alone and forgotten this looks. It can be seen as a symbol of our throwaway society where we take everything for granted, or it can mean something deeper to anyone who feels like they've been left in the gutter. With the way the world has been lately, I'm sure everyone who looks at this can come up with some way to relate to this poor, forgotten, abused soda can.

Click the image above, or right here, for a full view of the shot.

More soon,