Subjects and Muses

Last December was the first time I caught the band Childspeak. I loved their music immediately, I also find this band a compelling photographic subject. I’ve photographed them on stage and off stage. There comes a point when your subjects become your friends and your friends become your subjects. Photographing people is a personal process, these things are bound to happen. Yesterday Derek and I were talking and he reminded me that we as artists often have muses. A muse in simple terms is just a creative influence. In practice though, a muse has a powerful impact on your art and creativity. I have yet to decide or figure out if a whole band can be a single muse.

I’ve hung out with these guys a lot in the last few months, and they are a lot of fun to know. Childspeak is always been fun to photograph, but honestly, the first few times I photographed them on stage, I’ve had a helluva time trying to get images that I like. That challenge has been worth the work though. Music is an emotionally powerful art form, I would argue that it’s far more powerful than photography. So trying to photograph subjects making music often seems fruitless. So how do you do it? How do you tell a story of someone telling a story?

Each time I photograph them though, I get a bit better at it. By better, I mean that I like the work I am producing more each time. Technically the mechanics are the same, but I am able to see what I want to capture before I even press the shutter button. I’m not bored with photographing them yet. I tend to lose interest in shooting a single band fairly quickly. I rarely lose interest in the music itself. As you photograph a subject a few times you can get bored pretty quickly, especially if they don’t show interest in the image making process itself. Which is often the case with musicians.

I don’t really know if Childspeak has become a muse for me or not. It’s complicated. There is a fine line between a subject that you aren’t done exploring and creative influence. I can tell you that I really enjoy what they do. They seem to appreciate what I do.

A Night of Childspeak

It doesn’t matter whether we’re photographing dog catchers, accountants or musicians. Photographing groups of people always adds another level of complexity over photographing one person. It’s difficult enough to coordinate with one or two people, it’s even more so with four or six people. There’s usually an element of uncertainty when photographing groups.

If there’s already an event where the group had planned to be at, this makes it easier. Coordinating a group photo-shoot is a different situation. There are always people in the group that aren’t so thrilled about being photographed. Every situation is different of course. I had a band shoot a few months back during the band’s practice day and there were members that had some anxiety over being photographed. This shoot with Childspeak we had some scheduling issues, but everyone was happy to have the shoot happen.

We hustled pretty hard to get this shoot done in one night. I had such a great time working with these guys.

Everything comes down to having a good plan of what you want to achieve. When things go off the rails have a plan b and a plan c ready to go.