I recall listening to Paul Oakenfold's double-disc mix “Resident” back in 1999 0r 2000; to me, at the time, it was one of those perfect mixes, and one to which I always compared Oakenfold's other work.
Flash forward to 2010, when had my chance to hear, see, and photograph The Guiness Book of World Records' “most successful DJ in the world” storming the decks at Europe Nighclub on his 2010 FaceLift Tour.
This was the second time I'd photographed a DJ – the first time being Paul van Dyk back in 2008. For that shoot, the DJ booth space was just a little different, being more of an elevated bird's nest above the dance floor.
The shooting position for this gig was relatively tight – the only real shooting positions were just to the left of the DJ booth, behind a speaker stack. No access to other areas of the DJ booth were allowed, so angles were pretty limited.
For me, flash in a shooting situation like this is almost entirely essential. With club lighting providing atmosphere accents and not too much else, the only reliable approach for shooting like this is to use flash. And just like any use of flash, it's almost always going to look better if it's not coming from on-axis with the lens.
In other words, this approach is going to mean bouncing your light, or going with off-camera flash.
Lighting Gear Used:
- 3x Nikon SB-900 Speedlight
- 1x Nikon SB-600 Speedlight
Needless to say, I went with shooting flash, with a handful of Nikon SB-900 speedlights as the main lights. In contrast to being able to put a speedlight directly behind Oakenfold, as I did with Paul van Dyk, the only real option for a rim light of any kind was positioning a speedlight on a speaker stack on the corner of the booth.
So while this placement meant that the kind of perfect, sweet backlighting effect that was so easy for van Dyk was out, I think the lighting for Oakenfold worked out well given the situation.
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