Every avid music fan and concert goer has seen them: people with cameras, straining to get good shots of performers on stage, while desperately trying to keep their gear from being wrecked amongst a mixture of sweaty bodies and thrashing limbs. They’re just asking for trouble. Being a show videographer myself, I can certainly say we don’t have to seek out trouble.
It finds us.
What is filming a show like? Well, imagine having an engaging and complicated conversation with a good friend on the phone, while someone is chucking wrenches at your head. Filming a show is as energizing as listening to your best friend tell a story. The performers on stage duck and weave, and you have to follow every new point they make with their performance–a smile on your face the whole time as you find new ways to watch the bassist, or sneak around a speaker to get a shot of the drummer’s face. The scene is constantly changing, and you excitedly find a way capture the story as it unfolds in front of you: eager to hear what your friend is going to tell you next.
The only problem is what you don’t see while engrossed in your camera.
Think of all the things that can go wrong at a show, and put yourself in the middle of it. I’ve had people nearly knock my camera out of my hands, sound engineers and tour managers almost sending me flying as they barrel past, and guitars swinging precariously close to my head. All this while only being able to hear the bass coming from a sub that is much too close for comfort. Seeing as I haven’t been at this nearly as long as some others, I consider myself fortunate, for now. On one occasion, the whole right channel of a show’s sound system went out, and the chaos that ensued stage-side definitely left a few impressions on my shots.
Setting the flying wrenches and a few sustained bruises aside, filming shows is a rush I hope I never have to take a break from. The opportunity to tell the story of a show however you deem fit is electrifying, and being able to experience the story as it unfolds for each and every person in the crowd is even better. When people go home from a show, they almost always will look up live footage of the performance. My job is to make sure that what they see, is as close to the real experience as I can get with 30 frames a second and a few different lenses. Maybe I won’t even get close, but it still serves as an opportunity for me to share my passion for music with others, in exactly the way I experience it.