Ladies and Gentlemen, this was an Epic night. Seeing Ozone Mama and The Weight live in concert was nothing less than Epic with a capital E!
Ozone Mama is one of the best Hungarian rock bands of all time. That is an objective statement, you can research the number of prizes they won. A subjective statement would be to substract two words from this sentence, and make it “Ozone Mama is the best Hungarian rock bands of all time”. Yes, they are human and Hungarian, so as a huge advocate of the exclusivity of anglo-saxon rock, I’d say that they are not perfect by any means, but they are so damn close! They are clearly highly above all that has been concieved in this country in the last few decades. In fact, Ozone Mama is the one of the two Hungarain bands I still choose to listen to.
They just released a new album, entitled Cosmos Calling (which is awsome by the way), and they needed a music photographer to shoot the show. As you know I already photographed them before (if not, then just read back on my blog). The new album even has one of my photos in it! How cool is that? Anyway, I was a bit anxious, as for a few years I tried to keep myself away from concerts and other crowded places. If the venue had a photographer’s pit, I had no problem working, but if I have to squeeze through hundreds of drunk people jumping, then jugling my cameras and lenses start to be a bigger challenge.
Whatever, it is Ozone Mama and a signature show, so I took the job. As a storyteller photographer, I wanted to see what lies behind the scenes, so I asked Kati the awsome manager and problem solving extraordinaire if I could join them backstage. She happily agreed. I wanted to shoot three assignments in one. The first one is obviously a photo story for the band that apart from concert photography, includes a pre and postshow images. The second is a ten image series that captures the essence of live music without people, the third is an absurd portrait series relating to emotions behind the scenes. It is really important for a photographer to shoot for oneself as well as the client.
The first series I took was then the band was setting up their gear. Then there were some great stories backstage with some TV interviews. The Weight came on stage, and I was astonished with the authentic rock they were playing. While I was out there rocking out, I fired a few shots with my cameras, naturally. They were the perfect opening act for Ozone Mama. I had to buy one of their vinyls at the merch counter after the show. Of course, I had it autographed. As I work in Austria a few times per year, I’ll keep a look out for these guys.
Further stories in the backstage with the guys getting ready and giving a second interview beefed up my private image store, and I was already okay with the number of shots by the time they went on stage. I found the concert energetic and honest. Sound quality was excellent, as it almost always is on A38, so we could hear every small nuance and detail in the new songs. The audience thanked the effort with a lot of movement and singing. This was quite unusual for a setlist that contains mainly of entirely new songs. Okay, the album was out for a few weeks, but not so long that this many people would know it. This and the fact the band can fill in the large hall of the A38 with their fans means that they are ready. Ready for an international career.
Back to photography: I felt great throughout the show, somehow almost all my compositions were great. I think I had to crop about 3-4 pictures out of a hundred. When I started this business, I cropped about 70-80% of my images. Light was adequate, I worked with ISO1600-2500, on very few occations did I need to bump it up to 3200. In huge stadiums I can usually get away with 400-800, but this place was much smaller. I took my Fujifilm X-T2 with the 56mm f1.2, 90mm f2, 35mm f2, but I apart from some wide shots, I used my Nikon gear that night. It is a Nikon D750, and I choose a Sigma ART 35mm F1.4 and a Nikon 85mm f1.8. I also had my trusty Nikon 70-200. G VRII with me. I hate the bulk and weight of the lens and the fact that it is a 2.8, but it enables me to get some really tight shots at 200mm. I really should change it to a 200mm f2 prime sometime.
Did you know that the album was mixed in the U.S.A. by Michael Rich of Karma Studio) and it has an American pulisher (Ripple Music)?
When the show was over, I was waiting for the guys in the backstage. After a small refreshment they did the obligatory meet and greet and signed a huge number of CDs, vinyls, t-shirts and fans.
After all the fans went home and there was basically nothing to shoot I started packing. When I went out to the parking lot where I left my car I found that about 2cm of snow has fallen, so I started sweeping off the vehicle while humming some Ozone Mama tunes.
I love to use the time for a number of different things while commuting. One of this is culling photos. I cannot do wonders on the train, but it’s not a big challenge to root out all the technically bad ones. So a day or two after the concert I went over the images and threw out a suprisingly small number of them. Later that day in my studio I imported an impressive number of files! As usual, I started with the concert photos. After selecting a few different ones, I started working out a preset that would fit the theme and vibe of the concert. Once I was done, I appied it to all the concert pictures. As I expose quite well (as every profession photographer should), I only had to fine tune the exposure of a few photos that really fell out of line. Then I did the same for the reportage part (backstage, interview, meet and greet, etc ..). When I was done, I just could not choose a few good ones, so the band received much, much more photos that I usually hand over.
I’m really grateful for this night for Ozone Mama and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done that night. Commissions like that really strengthen me in my decision to do what I really love: photograph.
You can reach Ozone Mama at: http://www.ozonemama.com
The Weight is available at: http://theweightrock.com
Michael Rich of Karma Studio is available at: http://www.karmastudioeast.com
Ripple music is available at: Ripple Music