I’m terribly behind on posts due to a couple of big projects, so I’m going to try to knock out a few in the next two or three days.
First off, I shot my first concert at Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. Green Day were headlining New York’s biggest stage and the Atlantic City Board of Tourism and Warner Brothers were kind enough to set me up with review and photo passes.
Photographing MSG is insane—no doubt about. Huge venues like the IZOD Center in Jersey run like any other concert hall. You walk in, show your photo pass, and make your way to the front of the stage. Not so for MSG. I tried walking through the front door and was verbally mauled by security for trying to bring in my photo gear. I explained to them that I was a legitimate photographer, and was shown the door. One somewhat kind security guard told me to head around back to a VIP entrance and ask there.
Surprise, photographers get their own entrance at The Garden.The bad news was that we had to come right out after each set, whether or not we had an actual ticket to see the show. I guess that makes senese for photographers that are there just to shoot and run, but it sucks for duel reporter/photographers, such as myself (and a handful of other gents in the photo pit).
Luckily, there was only one opening act—The Kaiser Chiefs. After a short explanation of the rules by a senior PR person, me and about 10 other photographers were checked in, searched, and escorted to a massive cargo elevator that brought us directly to the side of the stage.
Green Day’s stage was massive, no doubt about it. Were it just the stage, I would have had to shoot the whole set with my 80–200mm zoom, but the band was smart enough to include a decent-sized runway that protruded right into the audience, with enough room for photographers to gather around.
The band took stage at the early hour of 9pm with a show complete with eyebrow singing fire, and a ton of nice white lighting. We only got two songs to shoot, but one was an epic-length 10-minute number. The band was all over the place, but we all had enough time to run around trying to get the perfect shot. I used my 24–70mm for most of the set, only switching out to the longer lens for some tight shots.
The moment singer Billie Joe Armstrong strutted onto the catwalk, I dove for the back side and shot as many photos of him as I could with him silhouetted against the spotlights. That’s why a few of them look like I was actually on stage.
I spent a good part of the evening chatting with Bowery Presents photographer Michael Jurick and Huffington Post writer Jon Chattman. Both guys do amazing work. Jon was handed a camera to take some shots to go with the story, and I had a blast showing him how to shoot manual exposure to get some usable shots from a Canon Rebel with a kit lens, and Michael took some incredible wide angle photos of the band from in front of the cat walk. Makes you realize that you don’t need a giant zoom to shoot a giant stage.