Stepping out into the spotlight in a silver-studded vest, matching slacks, and his signature aviator sunglasses, there was no doubt: Musiq Soulchild was home. The acclaimed soul singer slid out onto the stage and into the spotlight with all the ease of walking into his living room, greeting 1,500 of his closest friends.
And then it was game time.
Musiq started big out of the gate with his charasmatically charged “Buddy,” holding nothing back from his fans in a performance that would set the tone for the night.
Much to the delight of the audience, the entertainer went on to indulge his fans by asking them to join in on a number of songs, notably on his performance of his single “Halfcrazy,” from his sophomore album Juslisen (Def Soul, 2002).
While he did his fair share of working the stage, the set was remarkably more mellow and free of hype or pretense; Musiq was content to let his voice do most of the work.
After all, it's all about the music.
Having recently photographed Raheem DeVaughn, Trey Songz, and J. Holiday, I was curious as to how Musiq Soulchild's performance would differ from a photographic standpoint.
As it turned out, Musiq was more calm and collected than his contemporaries in some regards, particularly when it came to his physical performance. The singer did work the stage, front to back, side to side, but overall didn't have the spot operator chasing him too far and long.
What this show did share with the other recent soul/R&B shows I've shot is that it all came down to gesture. Due to the constant, unvaried lighting throughout the set, expression and pose are at their most critical for shows like this. For me, this emphasis is a refreshing challenge, and one of the reasons I love taking on a variety of assignments.
Lighting for this gig was what I was expecting: one spotlight in the balcony and just a splash of accenting from the lights above and behind.
Other than a few instances of stronger magenta lights from the back, the spotlight dominated the performance.
Exposure & Metering:
Due to the constant illumination by a spot in the balcony, I shot within a fairly narrow range that averaged out to be around 1/400 and f/3.2 at ISO 1250. When using the Nikon 14-24mm halfway during the set, I went to f/3.5 and ISO 1600, and stayed there when switching back to the 24-70mm. I went as low as ISO 1000 for this gig. Gotta love spotlights.
The only real executive decision that had to be made was in letting Musiq's ultra-white shirt blow out in order to keep detail in the singer's face.
Gear & Equipment:
I used the Nikon D3 and the trio of f/2.8 zoom lenses: the Nikon 14-24mm, Nikon 24-70mm, and Nikon 70-200mm. They weigh a ton combined, but they also cover 14-200mm at a sweet f/2.8 aperture, which is hard to argue with.