Great relationships often start with a simple introduction - Hi, my name is Bob, I am a photographer and (almost under my breath) a blogger. So began my relationship with Dan and Ariel from Shady Lea Guitars (their guitar-building business) and Pump House Music Works (their non-profit music venue). It was the vibe as well as the opportunity that drew me in and I was happy they welcomed me to make performance photographs. in addition to the photographic opportunity, it presented a new challenge to capture performances and a way to meet musicians and all the other talented and hard-working folks who make an Open Mic event not only possible, but successful and greatly enjoyable.
During the past several months, names and faces have slowly become familiar. At the same time, new musicians regularly show up to take the stage for their 15 minutes. Documenting their performance in small increments of time keeps me in the moment, as my ears fill with handmade music in the time-honored tradition of the coffee house. Just as no two performances are the same, every event is approached as a unique opportunity to leave my usual comfort zone and to create a new one. I have been bouncing flash, using only stage light, using telephotos, prime, and occasionally a fisheye lens while I try to capture gesture as well as light and color. To be sure, many of my personal favorites are black and white, reflective of the general "back in the day" tradition of music in a small, communal venue (infused also by new and fabulous talent). The Pump House gallery has quickly filled with photographs documenting terrific performances such as the one by the University of Rhode Island Big Band.
Recently, I was commissioned to create a large print of the Occasional String Band for the musicians' "Green Room." While the image is nice to see on a computer, it is far better as a 20x28 (5:7 aspect) print that is matted and framed.
I have often heard that great music often happens when it gets late and the venue empties out. Such was the case last week at an Open Mic event. My editor and I had the front row, stage right, all to ourselves and it felt like friends were playing in our living room - if our living room was Pump House Music Works. Over the course of the evening more than forty musicians took to the stage during the Mardi Gras-themed event. A fabulous time was had by all and the music was as outstanding as the tasty gumbo and the colorful king cake.
The Pump House Music Works hosts an Open Mic & Pot;luck event the last Saturday of each month.
See ya next week,