Shooting a legendary musician like Willie Nelson from the photo pit? A pleasure and an honor. For the second time in half a year? That's just gravy.
I'd photographed Willie Nelson for the first time last October at the 2009 Farm Aid benefit concert, so getting a second chance so soon afterward was a treat, not to mention doing so in a club like the Pageant.
Concert Photographer's Notes:
When I went to pick up my credentials at this show, I was a little surprised to see that there was no photo pass – just a wristband with “www.willienelson.com” printed on it, and written in Sharpie, “Photo F.O.H.”
I didn't mind the lack of a proper pass, but the prospect of shooting from the front of house was mildly alarming, even in a club venue like the Pageant. However, any initial fears of photographing from the front of house were soon put to rest when I saw a photo pit between the general admission crowd on the floor and the stage.
Willie Nelson and band were set back a good ways from the edge of the stage, but due to the height of the stage at the Pageant, this was actually a good thing. Any closer and it would have been a more acute shooting angle. As it happened, the increased distance made for a less severe upward angle, resulting in a more flattering vantage point for press.
Here's a wide-angle shot from the photo pit showing the setup:
Thanks to spotlights positioned in the balcony, I shot happily at ISO 1000, 1/150, and f/2.8 for most of the allotted two songs.
For more photos of Willie Nelson, head over to the images of the American icon performing at the Farm Aid 2009 benefit concert if you haven't seen them already. In addition to his solo set, you can see images of Willie Nelson performing with Dave Matthews at Farm Aid as well.