Jesse Hale Moore- Leave you Lonely

Don’t sleep on this guy, the haunting voice of Jesse Hale Moore gives me chills with echos of an early James Blake or James Vincent Mcmorrow. I recently saw the first night of a 3 week residency at Bourbon and Branch and the intimacy and vibe of Bourbon was the perfect space to first experience this guys music.

I can't wait to see where he goes from here with a debut album, Green End, dropping on April 7th and Record Release show at Johnny Brendas the Day after. 

Lorde- Green Light

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I remember a little  under 4 years ago I skipped class and hopped on a bus to NYC after a last minute email approving me to shoot a brand new artist. That artist was Lorde and the show at Webster hall was her record release show. The whole top section of the club was filled with industry folks in suits, while the whole floor section was eager covered in high schoolers. For the most part Lorde had never played any major venues but her single Royals was being played on every major radio station. Being in that venue for that moment is what I live for as a music photographer, you literally got to shoot (as much as I hate these photos now) the birth of a superstar.

 

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph her 2 more times as she toured the US. Both of which you got to see insane growth and she cemented herself as a truly exceptional pop artist. She was able to break down barriers of what a pop star sounds and looks like.

 

So her new single arguably was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and……. I honestly don’t know how I feel, I have never doubted this girl’s ability and have always championed her on what Pop music should be. Production wise this song felt empty, with no real substance or heart, although lyrically it still shined.

 

I understand to grow as a musician you can’t sound the same forever, but growth comes with taking chances and this song sounds like a quintessential industry formula for a pop song.

 

I will say this, I am hopeful the rest of the record is more enjoyable to me and I you enjoy the song, then I don’t hate you or think you are stupid…. Please Lorde fans don’t send me hate mail

 

-E

My Best OF 2014 Playlist

So a lot of my friends have been asking for a playlist lately, all through out the year I rank singles and keep my favorites in a separate folder. 

Here are my top 30 songs of 2014 in no order other than my personal listening preference

 

The Newport Portrait Series- Houndmouth

In honor of throwback Thursday... I'm going to continue my roll out of Portraits from the 2014 Newport Folk Festival. Todays artist will be none other than Houndmouth. 

Their melting of 2 male vocalists and a soulfully sweet female vocalist, gives off similarities to The Head and The Heart and Of Monsters and men, but once you hear the dark lyrics layered in thier upbeat folk songs, you realize thats where the similarities end.

I met the band underneath the flag pole of the fort, ready to bring them into the heart of Fort Adams. I had two different spots in mind for the Portraits both with varying amounts of natural light and spacially different to allow for 2 completely different shots for me to choose from later. To be honest i was shocked that one of the Portraits came out as good as it did due to the lack of light. 

These guys couldn't have been nicer, its great to meet musicians that are just genuinely there to have fun. One of the band members, Zach actually rode around the area that we were doing portraits in, in a motorized schooner we found lying around. 


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The Newport Portrait Series- Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

This year at Newport Folk I took on a massive endeavor, I decided that for my 4th year covering Newport Folk I would focus less on whats going on, on stage and more of the scenic beauty of Fort Adams and the passionate musicians that make this festival so special.

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One of the Artists that I was so very excited to meet was Thao Nguyen. Thao's music has been one of my favorite musicians since I first moved to Philly. I first heard of her when she appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk series in 2008. She was even the first musicians that I introduced to my girlfriend before we were even dating. So over the course of 6 years I have seen Thao perform 5 times, everywhere from church basements to comfy cafes with the Philadelphia Phillies fans rioting in the streets. 


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I love her off kilter melodies and Chaotic stage presence, she always makes for incredible live shots. Along with her selfless contributions to Oxfam, A charity that I hold very close to my heart as well. 

So when I was coming up with my list for the Portrait series Thao was very high to the top, especially with the years festival dedicated to Mavis, Thao being strong female musician that is heavily involved in fighting Social injustices just made her a perfect fit.


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So with the help of a park ranger I brought Thao into a narrow passage way underneath the main side of the fort. Originally I had a location up on top of the roof of the fort but due to weather it didn't work out that way. The lighting and color tones worked of perfectly with Thao's bright colored outfit. 

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That One Shot


If you ever have the chance to photograph a band on multiple occasions, then you will struggle with the troubling conflicting emotion of boredom. To most people the idea of getting bored being so close to a musician that they worship is ludicrous and a bit pretentious. But what you have to understand is that some artists perform the same set list, with the same body motions and mannerisms night after night after night. So when you do the festival circuit and shoot a band such as Haim at Govenors Ball, then Bonnaroo and finally at Firefly then what are you supposed to do? Even though they might be wearing different clothes and they maybe playing at a different time, it doesn’t make the photos you have taken that much different. So if your taking the same photos of the same band over and over again then how are you challenging yourself? How Are you improving and putting yourself ahead from the pack? 

Newport Folk 2010

Newport Folk 2010

At The Tower Theatre 2013

At The Tower Theatre 2013

I for example have shot Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros 4 times in 4 years and have found myself looking for shots rather then letting the shot develop. This may sound like I have moved into autopilot and motor drived through a shoot. But its actually the complete opposite, I now know that the lead singer Alexander Ebert spends more time in the crowd then on stage. I have gotten as many tight shots of the band on stage as possible and now understand that using my 70-200 is a waste time because he would move too fast from on stage to off stage and the lens is too long to get the wide shot of him in the crowd. So I have come to learn that patience is a key tool to have in the pit and to understand what your ideal shot is going to be. I also have used the multiple shoots as a way to build trust with the publicists and the band to do most intimate shoots such as portraits.

Edward Sharpe At Governors Ball 2013

Edward Sharpe At Governors Ball 2013

Portrait of Edward Sharpe at Boston Calling 2014

Portrait of Edward Sharpe at Boston Calling 2014

Edward Sharpe at Boston Calling 2014

Edward Sharpe at Boston Calling 2014

Another great example is Ellie Goulding, She has this one move where she bends all the way back to where her hair could it almost touch the floor. I luckily caught the shot back last year at firefly. But I wasn’t in the best position and missed the majority of her face in the shot. 


Ellie Goulding at Firefly 2013

Ellie Goulding at Firefly 2013

So the second time I shot her, I went more toward the right hoping I would be positioned ready for the shot. This time I captured her perfectly but the shot wasn’t framed properly and missed the guitarist that comes in and poses next to her.

Ellie Goulding in Philly 2014

Ellie Goulding in Philly 2014

So who else has a shot takes 3 – 5 shows to master? 

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

A couple months after the 2011 Newport folk festival I went onto NPRs website and in a fit of pure Nostalgia and boredom. I stumbled across a recorded set featuring a Chorus of almost every musician playing that year backing up the vocals of a elderly man. Even though the man seemed to be struggling with every note, his presence even through the audio recording was chilling, he made the entire 10,000 attendees silent and then sing along with him in unison. 

This man was Pete Seeger

Hearing him host that sing along was a major force to bring me back to Newport. The feeling of family and unity under the open seas and music was something that I have never experienced at any other music festival. 

But more importantly Pete Seeger has shown me the true power of music in Society, his life was dedicated to promoting community empowerment and civil rights. 

Your Spirit will live on Pete, 

Grammy Wrap up

So half of me thinks the grammy are one of the biggest jokes, giving out award in music categories no one has cared about in more than 15 years. But at the same time it, it shines a light on the relevancy of our music today on society and where music is trending in the future. Take Daft punk for example, a band that had a single song carry them back from cultural obscurity and into the limelight that was hotter than ever. 

I personally was shocked at how many awards they walked away with, typically grammy voters are a little more forgetful and vote for the more current releases. But Daft Punk getting record of the year was a given. To those who still dont understand the difference between record of the year and song of the year. Song of the year only acknowledges the artists involved while record of the year also notices the production behind the song.

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Finally a bit of a Lorde I told you so..... I was this chick Is going to rule the music world very soon and she has done it on her terms. Something most pop stars cant say.

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What are you grammy thoughts?

The List 2014 edition

So every year I put together a list of Must see artists, its a way for me to prioritize my concert calendar. Last year this list had me at the back at Newport for a third year, making time to see flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and catching a last minute train to see a secret show from Arcade Fire  But this year I may be knocking off some heavy hitters. With neutral milk hotel finally reappearing from the shadows of a 15 yr hiatus and Outkast playing every festival know to man.

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1. Neutral Milk hotel or Jeff Magnum in any form 

2. Arcade Fire- seen in august of 2010, seen at bonnaroo 2011, seen as Reflektors 2013

3. Outkast

4.My morning Jacket- seen in 2008 at Bonnaroo, yim yames in 2010 at Newport folk, mmj @ bonnaroo 2011, seen at newport folk 2012, seen Jim James at Newport 2013

5. LCD soundsystem- seen in march 2011 at their final Terminal 5 performance ever!

6. Fleet foxes

7. Bon iver

8. Neil Young- Seen as Buffalo springfield at bonnaroo 2011

9. Rilo Kiley- seen in 2008 at Bonnaroo and Jenny Lewis on June of 2009 and July of 2009

10. Black keys- Seen bonnaroo 2011

11. Phoenix

12. Wilco- Seen Newport Folk 2012

13. Jack White- 

14. Death Cab For Cutie- seen at bonnaroo 2008 and radio city in 2008, ben Gibbard at town hall NYC in 2012

seen as postal service in 2013

15. Beck- Seen Govenors ball 2012, Newport 2013

16. The Strokes- seen Bonnaroo 2011

17. Dr. Dog- seen in 2010 at bonnaroo, seen at Firefly 2013

18.Vampire weekend- seen at bonnaroo 2008

19. Modest Mouse- Seen at Govenors ball 2012

20. Broken Social Scene-saw stars in September of 2008, saw BSS in september 2010

21. Rilo Kiley- seen in 2008 at Bonnaroo and Jenny Lewis on June of 2009 and July of 2009

22. The Decemberists- seen Colin Meloy at Newport 2013

23. Childish Gambino- Seen at Bonnaroo 2011 and New Jersey in 2012

24. Animal collective

25. Josh Ritter- seen in feb 2011 at the troc

Favorite Live Shots (that aren't mine) of 2013

Each Year I keep a folder on my computer with links to all my favorite live photos of the year. They come from some of my favorite photographers, some of which I consider friends, some I have been blessed enough to share the pit with and some I have closely followed for years. All which have inspired me and driven me to sleepless nights of shooting and editing to get that perfect shot

I want to stress that the entirety of this post includes the work other photographers. All which I would highly suggest you visit their sites through the links listed to see more of their work.  

Glenn Hotche of Wilco  

Glenn Hotche of Wilco

 

 One of the hardest things to capture at a indoor show, is the drummer. The lighting is typically terrible to get a worth wild shot of the man in the back. Tim describes in post about the photo that this took multiple attempts at multiple shows. That diligence, persistence and drive are what it takes to get shots like this one. I love Tim's post processing as well the contrast and colors always make his photos  have a gritty look to them. 

 

Walk the Moon

Walk the Moon

Crowd shots like this are very difficult, the combination of lighting, placement, anticipation and having the correct lens at the right time are all key.  But this family man from Jersey is a photo pit veteran and his photos show true craft and skill.

Reign Wolf

Reign Wolf

A Jumping photo, this sharp, this wide, this high….. This photo is perfect; to be perfectly honest I could have done a separate post on just photos that I loved from Dana. From her portraits, to live photos, to festival coverage, this girl is one of the best in the business. 

Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots

Luis has always had a great eye for black and whites, the composition and the settings to get the sweat that visible, just makes this shot captivating.

Brian Lima

I have shot the Newport Folk Festival 3 out of the last 4 years. The atmosphere and music are unlike any other festival I have been to. One staple for me is to see Brian’s festival experience through his photos. His portraits from the festival are some of my favorite photos of the year.


This guy has probably shot more shows last year than I have shot in my entire life. He is an incredibly hard worker and constantly inspires me to get off the couch and shoot. His focus on making relationships with the bands he truly admires has proven a valuable asset to get truly amazing shots. 

This guy is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, his composition, the color, the tone of his shots. All of it is truly impressive.

I am not going to lie I love shooting the flaming lips. There is always plenty of light, the shows are crazy exciting and unique. My first truly professional quality photo came about thanks to a flaming lips set at Bonnaroo. But the color and composition of this shot of Wayne Coyne is truly beautiful. 

The National

The National

I honestly want this guy to do a tutorial on how he edits and what he shoots with.... the way his photos constantly walk the line between a artistic filtered style to a polished commercial look is something very unique. I love his work and he is a constant reminder that no matter where your shooting. If its a arena or a basement, there is always a story to tell. 

So I would say this kid is probably the luckiest guy I know, being Lorde’s personal photographer (and boyfriend) but once you see his work you realize that this guy has some serious talent. Maybe it’s the fact that he fancys his subject or the fact that she offers up a higher level of vulnerability around him. But his candid behind scenes photos of Lorde are captivating.

The Head and The Heart w/ Thao and The Get Down Stay Down

So last week I had the chance to finally shoot a couple shows in Philly. One of these shows featured none other than the harmonic Head and the Heart with the amazing Thao and the get down stay down.

 

To talk logistics, for a quick moment. The process of securing a photopass starts with contacting the publicists and requesting credentials. So in my case I contacted Thao's people because I have shot her on previous occasions and have built a minor working relationship with her people. They initially confirmed me for a +1 and photopass. So typically you then obtain the tickets at willcall. 

 

But on this night something went wrong..... on very rare occasions. The publicists either forget or mistakenly screw up your credentials. Here is my advice on what to do, if the will call office has no knowledge of your credentials. 

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1. Always have the publicist's information- keep the email from the publicist and if made available their cell phone number. This will make contacting them with the issue much quicker

2. Keep your Cool- The Calmer and more confident you are the more willing the venue's staff will be to help you out. This Particular night, eventhough I wasnt on a list and the publicist hadnt called me back but because of my cool head and professional attitude, they were willing to comp me 2 tickets just for my troubles.

3. Have a back up Contact- This one doesnt always apply, but if you are planning on shooting multiple bands. Make sure to make contact with both bands publicists, sometimes where publicist fails another will be there to pick up the slack. For example Thao's people made a mistake but due to my prior experience working with Ben Gibbard (who just so happens to share a publicist with the head and the heart) I had the cell number for The Head And The Heart's publicist and she was able to help rectify the mistake.

These are all just quick thoughts and lesson learned from the job so take them with a grain of salt and enjoy the photos

 

 

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PHOTOS: CMJ review

So last week was CMJ, which for the non east coast music savvy out there, Is a week long music convention in NYC where up and coming bands inhabit various music venues and bars around all 5 boroughs. This is one of my favorite weeks out of the year simply because of the ample opportunities to find new music. 

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One great new band I found was The Pretures, a woman led rock band from Australia. The Lead singer Isabella has a hypnotically sultry stage presence that is typically seen in a veteran performer. This Is definitely a band that I would shoot any day of the week

 

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Top 5 Shows of the Summer

I went to 5 festivals and saw more bands in 3 months then most people see in the entire year.  So the summer festival season in the bag I present to you my top 5 five favorite live acts of the summer.

 

5. Kanye West (Governors Ball 2013)

Love him or hate him (and trust me I hate him) he brought the muddy and pissed off crowd at Randall's island together for a stellar performance. I was present for the debacle of Kanye West's Bonnaroo performance and very skeptical for his headlining set at Govball. But he killed with a combination of his enormous hit catalog along with starting and finishing with his new hit "black skinhead".

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4. Postal Service (Barclay) 

Back in January I remember hearing rumblings from Jenny Lewis' camp that she was practicing her synth work. Along with the first remnants surfacing of a postal service reunion. So when a 10 year reunion was announced with Jenny Lewis providing back up vocals, I forked over the cash to see them at Barclay. Postal Service, fronted by Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard created a masterful synth pop album 10 years ago. A album that was never meant to be played for a arena crowd. The fine line of being able to play intimate songs in a epicly large setting is a tough and meticulous endevour. But Ben and Jenny didn't disappoint and sent me right back to my high school years.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers (Firefly 2013)

I made a list the first summer I ever went to a music festival, the list contained the my top 20 must see artists before I die. This was when I was 18 and most of the musicians on the list I have either seen or I have grown out of. But number 3, behind Neutral Milk Hotel (which will hopefully happen next year) and The White Stripes (which will never happen) was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea has been a dream for me to Photograph since i found out concert photograph was a thing and my high school career revolved around Danni California. I can not express how insane it was to shoot the Peppers or be that close to a band that big. There is a odd energy that comes off the stage that carries with you for a wile. 

 

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2. Mumford and Sons (Forest Hills)

The last time I saw Mumford and Sons it was 2010 at the Which Stage at Bonnaroo. Since then they played with Bob Dylan at the Grammys and won Album of the Year, folk music doesn't always translate to huge venues. But Mumford and Sons isnt your typical folk band, they bring a energy that is closer described as punk. its fast paced and foot stomping folk and they're newfound fame hasn't jaded or diminished these british gentlemen.

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1. The Lone Bellows  (Newport Folk 2013)

My Favorite concert this year didn't come from the huge set design of JT and Jay Z, or even the headlining performance Guns and Roses or Beck. The Lone Bellow have blown up in the last year, they literally went from working 9-5s to doing a national tour over night. the attention is well deserved. They're sound reminds me of a mix of mix between the Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men. Their performance, reminded me how at in the end, lights, dancers, and smoke machines dont matter. Leaving everything you have on stage is all that matters.

 

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Reflektor 9/9/9

So next week Arcade Fire's 4th full length album drops. It follows their Grammy award winning album of the year and is probably the most anticipated album of the fall for the indie market. 

For me personally Arcade Fire hold a special place in my heart, back when I first bought my DSLR and I first moved to Philadelphia. I was still learning the basics in terms of how to use my camera and I was still figuring out this whole shooting shows thing. Along side life changes, was The Suburbs, a record that I will admit was too long and not my favorite from Arcade Fire. But none the less it was my go to for the Delta cross country flight back to Philadelphia. It was on constant rotation when I trekked to Bonnaroo that summer and when I went to Newport Folk for the first time. So when A last minute opportunity came up to photograph them. I jumped on it

 

I arrived at the Mann Center of the performing arts about 20 minutes before they went on, hearing the last few minutes of Spoons opening set from the distance. To this day I still can't remember a set where I reached this level of excitement and adrenaline wile shooting. Because the venue doubled and the philadelphia orchestras summer home, the actual photo pit doubled as the pit level seats for the extremely luck concert goers. 

 

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Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed at the level of gear that I entered that pit with.  I just want to give my past self a 50mm 1.4 or a 35mm 1.8 and say you don't deserve to be this close to Win Butler. Back in the day when I first started, I bought a Nikon D5000 (which at the time was the newest mid-range crop sensor DSLR) and a kit lense 55-200mm lens. Yes thats it, and that was It for a LONG time. most if not all my shots for the first year and a half of shooting were with this set up. I was a poor college student and the idea of spending over 200 dollars on 50mm or 35mm was crazy. My past self would be like "get into all these shows for free and thats like 10 cases of PBR". 

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So in this frugal and absolutely terrible set of gear, I can take one piece of silver lining away from this trip to the MANN. After the first three songs I put my camera away, happy with my shots and they left me in the pit, or forgot to ask me to leave. I ended up getting to stand front row, no more than 5 feet away from Win Butler and Régine Chassagne for their entire 2 hr set as they blazed through a medley of songs from my summer. It was a bit of a career lesson for me, this was the moment I realized where the line was for me between photographer and fan. 

The rule getting your shots, shots that you could be proud of, shots that will make your client happy, shots that even with terrible gear you can look back at 3 years later and be ok with. And after those shots are in the bag, thats when you can let out your inner fan and put the camera to the side and be engulfed in what you love.

 

And I can tell you confidently that every music photographer has a inner music nerd. There is no other type of photographer that would take as many jobs as we do with little pay or most cases no pay at all. We do it because when our shots are in the bag we can still satisfy that inner music nerd's thurst to be that close to someone who has been their summer sound track. A level of proximity that almost no one else will experience.