Last month I was asked to do a filler shoot, one where our regular staff photogs weren’t availble. It has happened a few times of late (AFL Press Conference and AFL Blood Drive) and I always get these notes of apology that they had to ask me to do it. I always want to reply telling them to never apologise for it, just make the call more often. I don’t drag my camera to my web developer job every day just to have it sitting on the floor. It comes with me in the hope that I will find a reason to use it. I love using it and crave more and more reasons to do so.
But I digress, back to Kram. At work we create a small publication (small in size not in circ) called MAG (Music Australia Guide). And last month there was an opportunity to shoot Kram, the lead singer of Spiderbait, who is releasing his own solo album “Mix Tape” on March 15. I was to meet Dan Rule, a writer at the offices of Universal Music Australia and then take a few shots of Kram passing Dan a prop that would later be digitally altered to be a giant Mix Tap graphic.
The day of the shoot however someone advised management that my camera, Canon 5D MkII would shoot video and that we should try and shoot video of the interview. Then that turned into someone else asking if I would be able to film video of the interview facing Kram all the way through and then after he had left, have Dan re-ask his questions to the camera so we could use that content as cut aways whent he video was put together!
There are four things you need to consider here.
- I received my camera as a birthday gift just three or four days before the shoot. Hadn’t really broken it in and was still getting to know its personality (which I believe every camera has).
- I had never shot video in my life, other than the occasional quick grab at a zoo or a family occasion once on our older video camera. I had no idea how much space I would require on my compact flash cards to hold the video and the photos. I only had 10GB worth of cards and was a little worried.
- I was already packing my shorts (read shitting myself) at the idea of doing a photo shoot that was going to end up in the magazine, sure I was confident I could do it, right up until having to worry about the video, man I wish no one had mentioned that.
- Star-struck much. This guys was the lead singer of a band that had done very well in Australia and who’s biggest single, “Black Betty” had been used on soundtracks over seas so everyone knew this guy. He is by definition a star and sometimes I forget that these guys are people too. I worry that they are going to be pretentious or worse precious about themselves and their image.
Turns out my fears were unfounded. I don’t think I did the best job of the shoot but the photo editors did their awesome work and turned it into something that worked well. I had plenty of space to shoot the video, the camera performed well and Kram was an amazing guys, very down to earth and very accommodating. I only wish I had had heard the interview first and seen his character before trying to shoot him. The connection in the photo would have been much stronger I feel as nether Dan or I had met the artist before.
As always I learnt a lot from this shoot. I learnt that everyone is a person first and that they should be treated as such. I spoke with one of our other photographers about it afterwards and he agreed that he had once been starstruck by the AFL players he had shot, but had come to believe (and rightly so) that they are there to do a job and so are we. I also learnt that the record companies don’t have very good offices, not at all like I would have thought them to be. No glitz, no glamour, just some cutouts stuck to the wall, remnants of a party and a ripped couch. I also had the forethought to shoot the images against a blank white wall, declining the offer to shoot in the alleyway out the back. I’ve worked with photo editor before and seen MAG production, I knew they’d probably want to put their own backdrop in and also knew they’d be doing the CG to the shot and wanted to give them the cleanest cut I could.
Did I enjoy shooting Kram, oh yeah. I loved it. But then I always love it when I have my camera in my hand.
You can see the shot (with photo credit) in the latest edition of MAG available for free at all JB Hi-Fi stores. You’ll also find my review of the Canon 5D MkII and of the Sharp DVD Cinema. Jack of all trades, that’s me. You’ll also find video I shot for the MAG video podcast on the MAG website, not the vid with Kram. I think it all hit the cutting room floor. And all I had to do with the podcast was frame the shot and press the “record” button. We did two run-throughs, the first didn’t work with the audio so we took the second.