The first time I photographed The National was when they performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival years back in 2006, with a second shot in 2008 at Lollapalooza.
Now with a couple of years under my music photographer's belt, I was excited at the opportunity to photograph the band again, and at my stomping grounds of The Pageant, no less.
Thanks to my awesome friend Heather, who lives on a tour bus making magic happen, I had a little extra access for this show and the great privilege of shooting The National's full set.
When my friend Heather handed me a AAA pass and told me to “get out of here,” I felt like I was given a mission. Because, you know, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
When shooting a full set like this, there's a slight shift in pacing. Instead of a sprint, it's more of a marathon of music photography. For me, there are two main advantages of having a longer shoot time: patience and increased opportunity.
More access and time afford a luxury of patience that isn't found in a three-song shoot, and you have the freedom to both be more selective and to have do-overs. In terms of increased opportunity, this is pretty self-evident – with more time, there's simply more to photograph. More lighting treatment, different poses, and moments that live beyond the high walls of the three-song limit. Shooting for the entire duration of a show allows the photographer to more fully tell the story of the show in a way that a three-song shoot will never allow.
And of course, when you're in the pit for the whole performance, you have the luxury of putting down your camera and just enjoying the rock show.
Due to the band being a little set back from the front of the stage, my most-used lens at this performance was easily the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, which provided a fantastic range. This reach was particularly useful for singer Matt Berninger.
The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, on the other hand, came in handy most for Aaron and Bryce Dessner when they came to the front of the stage. The ultra-wide of the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 was necessarily relegated to pretty spot duty – I could have shot the shot comfortably without this specialty lens.
For nostalgia's sake, here's a shot from 2006 – the year I started photographing live music:
Big shout out to Heather – If there are any fans of the band out there, she's the one to thank for these images.