The Young Dead Album Cover Art

The Young Dead is a female-fronted punk band from Southwest Florida and when their lead singer, Angela Page (founder of Love Your Rebellion) approached me about creating a image for their upcoming album cover, I jumped at the opportunity.  

#1:  I love punk rock.  #2:  I love the Young Dead.  And #3:  I rarely get the chance to shoot anything raw and gritty like this.  Most of my studio work thus far has been focused on my take on beauty portraiture so when Angela told me she wants a photo of a woman’s bloodied knuckles, I knew this would be something outside of my wheelhouse!  I want so very much to experiment with horror and gore photography but haven’t had the chance to until now and I gotta say, it was SO MUCH FUN.  But the most amazing part of the whole process was the collaboration between 5 women working together to make one awesome piece of art.  


Angela came up with the concept.  Our friend Alainna Zwiernik, co-owner of Howl Tattoo, served as our hand model.  Pam Trent of WickedApple Art brought her amazing special effects makeup skills to bring the whole project together.  I took the photos and then Annie Pritchard worked her graphic design magic to turn the final chosen image into the album cover art you see below!  


Make sure you are following The Young Dead on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their upcoming shows and get a copy of the album as soon as it is released.  


The Good Bad Kids (Duo)

The first band I ever took photos of was The Good Bad Kids.  Back then, they were a four-piece and they blew my mind.  They’re the perfect mixture of folk and rock that feeds my inner Texan punk and they’re incredibly talented.  on top of all that, they’re just really cool, gracious people.  I’ve gotten to photograph them a lot over the years, and I admit it:  I do it for purely selfish reasons.  They’re going to be huge one day, and I want my photos to be a part of the origin story of this band destined for greatness.

Today, the band consists of Matt, guitar and vocals, and Nicky, vocals and percussion.  Despite being just a duo now, they are still loud, immersive, and my favorite band in Florida.  I cannot wait to see what music comes out of these two next.  I got to spend some time with them in my studio to create a few new promo photos for the band.  


I don’t often shoot anything with the intention of converting it to a black and white image in post production.  I love colors!  I shot this originally with a blue light on Nicky and a pink light on Matt, but when I looked at it on my computer I realized I liked the contrast more than the actual colors.  It works so much better in black and white and showcases the dynamic of this band.  


You never know when you’ll need a photo with lots of negative space for text!  It’s funny, you wouldn’t know it from the pictures so far but getting these guys to stop smiling is the hardest part of their studio sessions.


Ahhhh, there’s the colors I know and love!   Yellow and teal work great for their style of music.  Seriously, have you listened to them yet?  

And because we can’t take anything too seriously, here’s the one where they let me repeatedly throw confetti at them.  They’re champs.  Go see their next show!  


5 Mistakes That Made Me A Better Concert Photographer

I got started in concert photographer a little over a year ago.  So far, I’ve exclusively shot local bands in local venues, and while I hope to branch out to shooting touring artists in big venues, I’ve learned so much and really honed my skills shooting in venues that, for the most part, don’t have cool lighting to do a lot of the work for you.  I learn best by doing, and whenever I do anything I inevitably make mistakes.  So here are some of the best mistakes I have made that have resulted in me becoming better at shooting photos at concerts.  Hopefully, they’ll help you, too!

1.  Lens flare = accidental stage lights

This photo is from the very first musical performance I ever shot!  The Good Bad Kids were performing a set at Fort Myers Brewing Company in April 2016, a place I had never been before.  While it’s always best to be able to scope out your shooting location before you arrive, it’s not always possible and sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.  I was new to off-camera-flash (OCF) and was eager to try out my new tools.  The lighting in FMBC at the time was minimal and I didn’t have any color gels (or knowledge of what those were…) to jazz things up.  So I plopped my 600 EX-RT right in front of the stage and fired it back at me, triggered by my YN-E3-RT.  Did I mean to point it back at me?  No!  I meant to point it up at the ceiling and for the light to bounce back onto the band.  But it fell over, and this was the result.  A subtle lens flare that made the photo more interesting and evoked the feeling of stage lighting.  I ended up shooting into the flash for the rest of the show, with great results!

2.  It’s ok to drag the shutter…sometimes!.

Shutter drag is where you intentionally shoot with a slow shutter speed in order to create lighting affects.  In general, I hate it.  Nothing wrong with it objectively, it’s just not my cup of tea and I think it gets abused by some folks who don’t really know that they’re even doing it…they just don’t know how to increase their shutter speed.  But I digress!   Sometimes, on rare occasions, dragging the shutter can actually enhance a photo.  I think the only way it can work is if you combine it with a flash to freeze motion.  Having a crisp, sharp image plus the ghostly aura around your subject and the sick light trails just totally works.  I got to shoot The Electric Mud at Old Soul Brewing, which is a cozy venue with no stage lights at all.  For this photo, I had a couple of flashes set up around the stage and slowed my shutter speed down to 1/13 of a second: just enough to get a little ghosting and show the action without blurring the subject.  Did I do this on purpose?  No!  I guess that’s not true…I did purposefully set my shutter speed to slower than I normally would shoot a concert at (around 1/250) but I didn’t know for sure if it would look like crap or look awesome.  So I learned that I could try out a technique I normally don’t prefer and have good results.

3.  I didn’t use my flashes!

So by now you’re thinking to yourself “Jesi really likes OCF but I don’t shoot with flashes so this information doesn’t help me!”  Quit that naysaying!  I admit, I am addicted to my flashes.  I can get better photos  and more consistency if I can control my lighting.  But not every venue will allow flashes, and heck…not every venue needs flashes!  I recently shot a series of bands at two venues at the same time (within walking distance) and didn’t want to lug around all of my equipment so I decided to wing it and go flashless.  I consider this a mistake because I missed way more shots than I normally do.  BUT it was a good mistake because I got more comfortable shooting live shows without flash, something I’m going to have to do if/when I move up to bigger venues.  This is one of those situations though where your equipment really does matter.  You can capture concert photography with any camera, but a wide aperture and a camera body that can handle high ISO is going to make your life a whole like easier if you’re shooting without flash.  BTW, this photo is of Cobress and was taken at my favorite venue to shoot at, HOWL!  Thanks to Howl’s great stage lighting, flashes aren’t completely necessary to capture the performers (but it still helps a lot!)

4.  My key light didn’t fire and it was awesome

I’m not sure why this happened twice…at the same venue…from the same angle…and both times it happened I was shooting a drummer.  Weird and spooky!  Here’s what happened:  I was shooting in another venue with minimal stage lights, Point Ybel Brewing, and there were multiple bands and performers in a row so I wanted to change up my lights between each set to simulate stage lighting.  I popped complimentary color gels onto my two flashes and placed them at opposite sides of the stage, then changed the colors after each act.  It was cool!  But for some reason, a couple of times my key light just didn’t fire.  Thankfully, I had that other flash in the back of the stage and it created a rim light around the subject that looked really cool and totally intentional even though it was definitely an accident.  Light is magic!

5.  I lost my spot at the front of the stage, and found a really great new perspective

Beach Records is such a fun venue to shoot and it’s ironic that I say that because I avoided shooting there for months.  Why?  Because those pretty Christmas lights you see in the background are the only lights in the room during shows.  Not ideal for capturing live performances!   But I trusted my flashes and tackled the challenge.  I got a lot of great results using the same technique as I mentioned above:  two flashes, each at opposite sides of the stage, and color gels to simulate stage lighting.  But then I went outside and when I came back, I couldn’t easily get past the crowd of people in front of the stage!   Skyler Enrico, pictured above, was just wrapping up his set and I didn’t want to miss getting his photos so I scoped out a position and switched to my 85mm lens.  The red blob at the bottom of the frame is part of a record display case and I think it adds visual interest to the edge of the photo.  The red rim light is from my gelled flash.  I was happy I got to capture this shot without being the annoying photographer at the front of the stage for the whole set!  


Star-Lord

Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite Marvel movie adaptation to date!  I was thrilled when I got commissioned to take photos of my friend Colin’s Star-Lord cosplay.  He is just now dipping his toe into the world of cosplay and he really knocked it out of the park on his first try!  This doubled as his Halloween costume, which surely put all the other store-bought Star-Lord costumes to shame. 

He suggested he’d like to see some sci-fi effects on the photos so I tweaked a few in photoshop more than I normally would.  It definitely gives it that Peter Quill realness!



The Electric Mud (is lit)

The Electric Mud is one of my favorite bands to come out of the ever-growing Southwest Florida music scene.  Southern rock  revival bands don’t come anymore authentic than this!  I’ve gotten the chance to shoot a few of their live performances and they never disappoint.  Always high energy and viscously talented.  

I’ve had a vision in mind for shooting promo shots for these guys for a while.  It involved strobes, smoke grenades, and some light trespassing but eventually I canned the idea because of damage to the site caused by the hurricane that went through Florida this year.  Maybe some day we’ll get to do the rockstar shoot of my dreams!

But last week I thought up this idea and presented it to the band and they were willing to try anything.  I love subjects like that!  So we built a fire in the lead guitarist’s backyard and waited for the sun to go down.  I set my camera on my tripod at its lowest height with the flames just in the foreground, focused on the guys, light the background (an overturned tree - thanks Hurricane Irma) with an orange gelled speed light and held another 1/2 orange gelled speed light in my hand.  With the camera on a timer, I took a couple shots of each guy, lighting them individually with the flash in my hand.  The shooting itself took less than 2 minutes.  I blended the 4 best images together in Photoshop and am really happy with the results. 

Now, watch this video and go to a The Electric Mud show as soon as possible.  You’ll thank me later.  

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