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Gruff Rhys: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

Gruff Rhys is one of the most laid back, and charming frontmen His dry wit, and long sentences that take an forever to get out add to the enjoyment of seeing him live. He played two sets on this tour, with a full band rather than solo. The first set was the full Babelsberg album, the second set was a bunch of his past solo material.

Lighting wise it was very, very low, and consistently so. The ISO was turned up very high and shutter speeds as slow as I could manage. The shooting angles were also very limited since Gruff had two microphone stands in front of him. If you venture beyond the left side of Gruff to photograph him then you couldn’t see his face. From that same point if you wanted to catch Kliph Scurlock, ex Flaming Lips drummer, then his cymbals got in the way of snapping him in the darkness. So all the angles are pretty much the same, except for one from the balcony taken during the second set.

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Pip Blom: Whelans Upstairs by Aaron Corr

I first caught Pip Blom earlier in the year supporting The Breeders earlier in the year in Vicar Street, and thought they were a deadly band. 8Radio championed them after that point so they kept in my mind, and I kept up to speed with what they were up to and awaited another Irish show. This finally came with one of the final dates of their own European tour.

Shrug Life

Shrug Life

Support on the night came from Shrug Life. Normally a three piece, this time Danny Carroll performing solo, and then a portion of the set with backing vocals by Naoise Roo.

Initially it looked like it would be a case of loud band playing to quiet crowd but people soon relaxed and got really into it. There may not have been moshing, but there was dancing by some, and enthusiasm with the whole room.

The lights were the same throughout, and were the usual pain in the arse to try and calm in the editing. After the show I hung around to try get a portrait with the band after they sold some merch. They were lovely and gracious in doing so. I took the portrait in the hallway between the room and backstage, using the ambient light. In shooting gigs I don’t bring flash with me, so you make do with what you got.

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Slaves: The Academy by Aaron Corr

It was a busy photo pit on the night of Slaves return to Dublin. Opening up the show was Murder Capital. It was my first time catching them and I was taken by how animated they were onstage. With the narrow pit and photographers brushing past each other, I kept thinking I’d get hit on the head by a wandering bass or guitar head. They are ones to watch and I’ll be seeing them again this very night opening for Shame.

Murder Capital

Murder Capital

Slaves were great to shoot, given how animated Laurie and Isaac are on stage. Laurie is easier to shoot given he is not surrounded by standing drums, and he takes to leaning over the stage to meet the crowd. There were a lot of strobes through the shoot time but it was still manageable to catch some good action in a burst of snaps. They were the complete opposite of the cheesy tunes they played for the crowd as their stage was set up, but the crowd lapped it all up.

Read The Thin Air review here.

First Aid Kit: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is the second time I’ve shot First Aid Kit in the Olympia Theatre, this occasion was for The Thin Air. Opening up for the band were The Staves, who I had also shot previously in Whelans. First Aid Kit had a curtain covering most of the stage, so the Stave sisters were very much set up towards the front of the stage. With the height of the Olympia stage it very much felt like most vantage points led to shooting ‘up the nose’ as they say, which isn’t the best angle or flattering. Combine this with the mic stands and equipment they had set up for sampling their vocals, the angles were narrow and tricky and I can’t say there is a photo I particularly like from this set.

The Staves

The Staves

First Aid Kit’s set I thought would be a better shoot. The hindrance was the colours used on stage, which can be a frustration when editing, particularly when they are used as low light while the Soderberg sister’s hang towards the back of the stage for a portion of the first song. They are a great band to shoot but if I was to compare, my first experience with them in the Olympia was a better experience.

The other frustration during their set was that they were lit well for a good portion of the set but the lights that were lighting them from front on were causing lots of microphone shadow on their faces, as seen of the next photo of Klara. I ended up focusing on her less because her mouth and chin were lost in the photos as she stood singing. Johanna sang less during those songs and therefore was standing back a little more, making her a better performer to photograph.

Their set was good and their singing perfect, however I did prefer their set and energy on stage at All Together Now in the summer. Their latest album is one of my favourite albums of the year.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

Pavement’s main man Stephen Malkmus returned to Dublin with his band, The Jicks, in support of their new album, Sparkle Hard. I covered the show for The Thin Air and got in early to catch Tandem Felix for my first time.

Tandem Felix

Tandem Felix

My first portrait shoot after I moved to Dublin was with David Tapley of Tandem Felix, for Plec Picks 2014, & Éna Brennan, aka Dowry, is also in the band and featured in a shoot of mine from the past year, yet I’d never got around to catching them live. They were great too, I can finally say!

I enjoyed shooting Stephen Malkmus. The lights were ok, nothing amazing or bad. It wasn’t a busy pit on the night, and the venue wasn’t sold out which surprised me for a Friday night. Those who missed out missed the Pavement ‘covers’ he threw in at the encore which made everyone’s night.

Sigrid: The Academy by Aaron Corr

Sigrid is a star on the rise, so I made sure to get to her show to catch her on the smaller stage for GoldenPlec before she ends up playing bigger, and less intimate shows.  I only stayed for the three songs I shot so I can't really comment on the gig itself, but you can read all about it here.  I did have a giggle at the set list noting when to talk to the crowd, and what to say.  The crowd were going crazy for her on the night and I don't think the smile once left her face while I was taking photos.

Rosborough: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

The GoldenPlec Plec Picks shoot with Rosborough was a last minute addition to my schedule of shoots.  The Derry man was in town to play the Paul McLoone Christmas show in the Workmans Club with Bitch Falcon and Otherkin.  The shoot would have to happen in or around the venue between soundchecks.  I was used to this happening with the GoldenPlec gigs that used to run every month in there, but the need to make the shoot not look the same as all the portrait shoots that has happened there is the tricky part.

I arrived to meet Glenn and set up my usual equipment, Canon 430 EXII Flash on a tripod lit through a soft-box.  I got him to stand and I took some portraits where I’d darken the background so that it is not visible.  There was some reflection of the flash in the doors that I removed or muted in photoshop.  We took some wider shots that takes in the main bar room of Workmans before I made things a little more portable to take photos on the stairway.

I used a portable soft-box, held in my left hand and tested this for a few shots while Glenn sat on the stairs.  I wanted to get a look with the yellow and red steps adding some muted colour to the shots.  We finished up with the same set up on the landing between the ground and first floor.  The look of there has changed since I took Orla Gartland’s portait there so I didn’t feel like I was retreading old turf by shooting there. 

I've seen Rosborough twice now, once acoustic, and the past weekend electric with his drummer.  His voice is incredible, and he really has the potential to have an amazing career.  If you get a chance to catch him live, do it.

Click to read the feature, click here to see my gallery.

Vulpynes: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Vulpynes were the first band I shot for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks for 2018.  Maeve & Kaz hit upon the idea of using the Light House cinema in Smithfield as an interior for some of the shoot.  It was December, it was freezing and the options can be tricky.  We got the go ahead from the manager, and a time for when it wouldn’t be too busy in the halls while screenings were in progress.  The trick to this part of the shoot was balancing the ambient light with the strobe.  I wanted to get these wide shots, but the strobe sometimes would overpower the fairy lights.  While there was no one breathing down our necks to hurry it up, I knew we had to keep things ticking along and not take the piss, so I got to a point where the lighting felt like a happy medium.   

I took some solo snaps of each of the girls, leaving the strobe alone for these shots since being this close to the fairy lights wasn't working to balance the two.

We ventured out to the cold and had a look towards a pub that we hoped to use.  It was busy for a Monday so we nixed that idea.  We moved up towards the Old Woolen Mills area to see what the square there was like.  We shot a few portraits on staircase, I used my portable soft-box for this part of the shoot.

We moved on to a location I'd long had in mind to use.  It was just around the corner from where I live in Dublin 7 and was a corner of a traffic junction, previously a wall with posters on it, and now it's a section of a rustic garden.  I like finding places in the city centre that look like you are somewhere completely different.  I set up the strobe on a tripod with the soft-box and we took within five minutes to take some photos as traffic passed us by.  Maeve and Kaz were great to hang out with and I'm grateful for them to participate in some of the colder shots on the night.  

Click to read the feature, and here for my gallery.