Photographing Iron & Wine strikes me as a little zen. With a minimal lighting treatment, very little movement overall, and the lulling sounds of Sam Beam on an acoustic guitar, I think that the music photographer has to work a little harder to make the most of a stark canvas.
It's kind of like photographing a majestic, snow-capped mountain miles away from you. Making one compelling shot of that mountain is probably pretty easy. It's where you go after the first frame where things get interesting.
With a show like this, I feel as though you have to stretch yourself just a little. No offense to Sam Beam, but acoustic folk isn't the most varied of genres in terms of photogenic appeal.
My approach is to cover all the basic angles – say, shooting from stage right, stage left, medium shots, close-up shots, etc. But to be honest, this doesn't take too much time, even if you re-shoot these for ever song/lighting treatment.
Thankfully, there's plenty of time to try and experiment. For me, this will generally mean loosening up with composition just a little to explore more negative space, and looking at the relation of the lights and the performer.
While I initially started shooting with primes like the beautiful 85mm f/1.4, the lighting was pleasantly bright enough to switch to f/2.8 zooms without much compromise. The reach of the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR was fantastic for close-ups, while the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 was great for wider shots.
I have to say that I ran into the lighting tech for this show in between sets, and put in a special request – crank those lights as much as you can for the first three!
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ought of this post.
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