Shooting a concert in documentary style was something that I always wanted to shoot. A few years ago I got my first chance of it, when Ozone Mama and some other band was playing at Barba Negra track. Only the small stage was open, and while quite a few people showed up, it wasn’t a mega concert. Fortunately who did show up went crazy, and the place was almost packed!
I tried to create memories that would bring back the feeing being there. I focued on storytelling. The interactions between the band and the fans, and also friendship and tensions between band members. I hope you will find the small nuances that I accidentaly or deliberately left in the image that make it tell a story.
When I’m back from a photoshoot, I throw out all the files that are technically bad. They are blurry or the composition is very off. And I do this on the memory card, I don’t even copy them anywhere! Then I import them to my project onto my computer and go through each picture and see if they tell a story or not, how much does this picture worth to me personally and to my client? How much further does this image let me towards my goal of delivering what I was commisioned for? This grants the image a number from 1 to 5. I never hand over images that are 1 or 2. If I can manage, I only use grade 4-5. If it helps to move the story forward, I include a couple of 3s, but rarely.
”Shoot what you want, how you want to”
It is really important to shoot for yourself, not just the client. Of course, if you’re getting paid, you have to deliver what the client orders, but if your product has a certain plus, it will definetaly add to the value your clients are getting. So look for micro-stories next time you’re on the job.
Now as I look back to this concert documentary, I can feel the summer heat and the blast of vintage rock n’ roll. It was one of my best experiences as a music photograper.
This was exactly what my client asked of me, so I delivered.
The search for the best location continued! Then we found the solution: A band photoshoot at an airport!
When Ozone Mama signed its first record deal with an American record label Ripple Music and a lot of summer touring was to come, so it was fitting to add some airplanes to the images. We visited the airpark near Liszt Ferenc Internation Airport of Budapest, because this was our best option. Guys were funny and easy to work with, as a result, we got excellent images . It was awsome to shoot a vintage rock band between vintage airplanes, so now you get to see the results!
Enjoy the pictures! If you want something for your band, just contact us for details!
There was a great photoshoot in a Bauxite mine in Hungary with the band Ozone Mama. We intentionally travelled a few hours to get a piece of alien landscape. I had some technical issues, but the images turned out to be fine.
Not only fine! They were even used to present the band in the most prestigious Hungarian rock/metal magazine, Hammerworld. And one of these images were used on the inset of the Ozone Mama CD/LP Cosmos Calling that became not only my personal favourite album of the year, but won the best rock/metal album of the year award at the most prestigious music gala in Hungary Fonogram.
I haven’t posted any images yet, so I’ll do it now!
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.
Red Swamp in an awsome modern sludge/stoner metal band with a twisted kind of humour. Just the way I like it. I already shot a story for them a few years ago, so they comissioned me to shoot their band media pictures.
I bought them to one of my favourite places, the empty factory. They were very fun to work with and we had a kickass time together doing numerous locations and poses. They chose three very different concepts that provided immensly discrete looks.
A guitar themed photoshoot? Are you kidding? F.ck yeah! Especially if my model is the extremely talented 6 string wielding badass, Andris Gabor from the amazing band Ozone Mama and a Zemaitis guitar.
All my life, I was crazy about guitars. My dad had one, and I own several of them. And a bass guitar. And a banjo. And a couple of ukuleles. You get the idea. I’ve played in bands, but I never considered myself a rock star. Someone who would be able to make it in the business. Still I know a lot about music and the instruments that breath life into it. This is why it was an honour to shoot a series for Zemnaitis guitars.
I choose an empty old factory that has cool graffitis. I took a few lights and my Nikon gear for the shoot. Andris bought a trunk of vintage clothes and Kati, who was our stylist for the shoot. I had Ákos as my assistant extraordinaire, helping me lift stuff and set up lights. It is always a bliss to work with people who know what they’re doing.
There was a sunset going on, so we went outside as well. If I’m on a commercial shoot, I usually use studio strobes to precisely control light, but even I cannot deny how sweet sunset looks.
I love to shoot emerging talents, especially power trios that kick ass! These guys may be young, but the energy and technical perfection they present cease to amaze me every time I see them perform.
I was at a beer festival or something in Szentendre, my home town. Just strolling with my family, trying to avoid crowds and keep my sanity. Let’s say I’m socially challenged when it comes to big public events. I get panic attacks when I have nothing important to do. This is why it was amazing when I just stopped and listened.
As I wrote above, I love power trios. From Hendrix to Kamchatka, from S.R.V. to Cream, from Motörhead to The Police, .. want me to go on? Anyway, they were playing something Hendrix like, but a bit more complex. Like Sons of Morpheus (another power trio, this time from Switzerland .. gotta remember putting their photos on this website). I just stood there and listened, and somehow remembered their names. N.B. Trio.
What d’ya know? A few months later I was comissioned to shoot their band pictures for media purposes. Of course, we choose some cool places in Szentendre. If you’re from around, you’ll probably recognize at least two locations.