Tuesday, August 12, 2008

V-Fest: Preakness on Ritalin - Day 1

"Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl acknowledges the crowd at Pimlico Race Course for the third annual Virgin Mobile Festival as they headline Saturday night. This is a two day festival of 40-plus bands, art exhibits, sideshows, and more."

I expected Preakness infield: baby pools filled with booze, barely clothed revelers and actions that mom and dad wouldn't be happy to witness. But I was wrong. Virgin Mobile Festival at Pimlico Race Course, while exciting, was more like Preakness on Ritalin. Cool, calm and collect with smooth tunes by star powered bands.

What made the festival different, for the most part, was that patrons were not allowed to bring alcohol in from the streets; it all had to be purchased. However, that didn't stop some of the crowd from bringing in other forms of drugs - rolled paper green, smoky substances.

Planted at the festival for two days, my assignments were different each day.

On Saturday I was paired up with Sun photog extraordinaire, Monica Lopossay. While she got to surf and search the crowd for features, I was put on the bands beat.

Conversely, my roll would be switched and I'd get the features on Sunday.

So on Saturday, while she waded through the soup of drunkenness, making killer clean photos of hulla-hoopers and a motorcycle tightrope dare devil named Monkey something; I was challenged to shoot nine bands on the same two stages time and time again.

From Cat Power and Lupe Fiasco, to Wilco, Jack Johnson and headliner Foo Fighters, it was difficult to photograph these bands differently every hour. I was put to the test and deep down I believe I did the best I could with it. I possibly would have changed my approach if I had to do it all over again, but I am not sure how at this very moment.

To make note, I am not much of a performance, band shooter because you know what you're going to get. Well, I don't mind plays or dances because they usually have cool lighting design that makes the job a little easier.

At a concert you're thrown into a photo pit with 20 or more shooters and everyone is shooting the same person or persons. If you get lucky, an outdoor night concert has intricate lighting. This concert was mostly in the day. Same light, sunshine all day long.

Honestly though, a monkey could shoot a band performance. And for the record, not all of the "photographers" in the pit at the festival probably had any idea what they were doing or were even taking pictures.

One girl actually had the nerve to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to move out of her way when she didn't fire one frame the entire two songs we were allowed to shoot. Rigggghhttt.

It's not too challenging and I tried my best to be different for what ever its worth. So as you can tell, while I enjoyed the day listening to free music and shooting high-profiled bands, I despise shooting bands.

No offense to those making a living doing it or those that eagerly await the next big act to come to town, but shooting bands is an easy gig. To use the over used phrase - it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Well, now that I think about it, maybe if I had more free range on where I could shoot the band from, not just a thirty-by-five-foot area, it might be different. I don't know where I am going. In my head I am ranting more.

I love music. I enjoyed the Foo Fighters live, especially when they open with a song like this. But shooting bands is not that thrilling or hard.

I guess it is what it is.

On the positive side, I did manage to shoot some features I liked in between bands and transmitting.

Although Monica ruled the ink on the pages with her gorgeous features on Saturday, I was pumped to go back Sunday when my rolled got reversed. I'd be shooting the features. More on that tomorrow.

Until then, here are a couple more band photos I liked: Foo Fighters, Lupe Fiasco, Jack Johnson, and Cat Power.

The Baltimore Sun Virgin Festival photo gallery is here, but I am not sure how long it will be up.


Blogger Dr. Spaulding said...

Seems like I saw your name in the a metro section photo credit every day this past weekend. Way to go.

Monday, August 11, 2008 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Plimack said...

So I was perusing RollingStone.com, and I came across this picture: http://www.rollingstone.com/photos/gallery/22544741/all_points_west_festival_radiohea/photo/7

It's not yours, but damn did it look familiar.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:19:00 AM  

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