torstai 24. kesäkuuta 2010

They are the real, motherfucking hatecrew #2

A quickie with ... Karen Fader McBride

Another in our occasional series of quick-fire questions. In the spotlight this time, Karen Fader McBride, aka Kindred Photography

Anyone who's ever stood 'down the front' behind the barricade at their favourite band's gig, with a posse of photographers milling around the pit between them and the stage (and sometimes obscuring their view!), has probably thought, 'what a cool job', or even, 'fuck it, I could do that!' From the average punter's point of view, it certainly seems like a badass way to earn shitloads of money whilst mingling with metal's musical elite: just get yourself a camera and you're good to go - right? Well, probably not, but don't take our word for it; we asked top Canadian photographer Karen Fader McBride (whose portfolio includes, amongst many of metal's finest, some awesome shots of Children Of Bodom) for the inside track ...

Are good photographers born or made?
I think most photographers just catch "the bug" somewhere along their path through life. Some develop it further by taking courses and others are self taught, but each has their own individual eye and style.

How did you get started as a photographer? What (if any) qualifications do you need?
I began taking photos as a teenager back before digital was the norm and we had to spend a small fortune on film & developing. I fell out of it for a time but once the digital age began I quickly got sucked back in. As for qualifications, I have never taken any courses. Sometimes I think I should though, couldn't hurt.

Does taking photographs pay the rent?
It can but in my case, no. I've done promo work for local bands and other non-music related photography that has brought in a paycheck here and there but it is far from being my day job. Honestly, it is more of an escape and release for me... shooting gigs & getting closer to the music I love.

Are you freelance, or do you work for a magazine or agency?
Freelance but I have regular webzines that use or have used my work, most notably MUEN Magazine & Fazer Magazine.

What camera do you use?
Somehow I manage to get by with a Canon EOS 450 & Canon S5IS. I should upgrade but everytime I have some extra money I end up buying a new lens... I'm a lens junkie.

What's the one piece of equipment (apart from your camera) you
wouldn't leave home without?

Flashlight, I keep a small one latched to my gear bag. It comes in handy when changing lenses plus helps me get safely in and out of the pit.

How did you get into concert photography?
I blame HIM... the band. Their former TM is a friend of mine and one day he just tossed me a photo pass. I went into the trench with a crappy point & shoot but I did OK. He tossed me another the following show and I was hooked.

When you first started out, how did you get photo passes?
Once I had a taste for it I found the only legit way to get photo passes was to contribute to a music website or magazine. I knew someone who had just started their own music site and was thrilled when he said he'd take me on. That first year we were super busy covering festivals and underground metal gigs. I literally dove in head first.

How do you avoid problems with the security guys?
Security are looking out for me as much as the crowd and band, they have our backs. If they tap me on the shoulder I know to move, some poor soul is about to come over the barrier. I'd have a hard time doing what I do if not for them and I'm happy to call many of them my friends.

When and where was the first time you photographed COB?
That would have been Gigantour 2008; it was a big show, good length set and apeshit crowd.

The rule of three: does it fire you up because you only have the first 10 minutes or so of the gig to get some killer shots, or does it mean you maybe miss the best photo opportunities as bands are often at their most energetic (and therefore, photogenic) towards the end of their set?

I guess it depends on the band. Most often we shoot the first 3 songs. Yes the band is looking fresh, as is the crowd but it would be nice to dodge back in and shoot the last song or anything eventful that may take place after those first three. All we can hope is that the songs are long ones (thank gawd for Opeth). On occasion I have been able to shoot a band's entire set or the remainder of a set from side stage but most often we have to settle with the first 3.

Is flash ever an option at concerts, and how do you deal with all that red light?
It is sometimes allowed but most often a big no-no. I prefer to not use flash as it washes out much of the stage lighting I want in the photos. Red light... ugh! Yeah, it's a bitch. Sometimes I can just flip a photo to B&W or post edit but sometimes it just blows! Don't even get me started on shooting Turisas.

Do you have favourite venues, where you know you'll get good shots? Or is it all down to instinct, 'feel' and maybe a little luck, on the night?
Yes, next to out door festivals my favourite venue is Toronto's Sound Academy. They have great lighting and the stage is a great size, lots of room in the pit as well and I know many of the staff & security. Unfortunately the venue I shoot at most often has fossil lighting (It's pretty fuckin old). It's too bad too because it is a great place to see shows and their staff are amazing. They get some great underground metal bands, but yeah, the lighting sucks hardcore. You do what you can with what you have.

What's the most challenging/shitty/awesome thing that's happened to you while photographing a COB show?
Challenging: I shot them in Detroit at this old theater with a tiny stage with 20 other photogs in the pit. We were almost on top of each other, ridiculous!
Shitty: I was shooting the band in Rochester back in 08 and the security guy at pit entry decided the three photogs each got only one song each, one after the other.
Awesome: The Detroit gig in May 09 when Jere Lehtinen of the Dallas Stars showed up, a good friend of the guys. He hung out with us on the bus and watched the show with me from the sound board. What can I say, I love hockey as much as music.

How do you get the 'perfect' shot, and do you know when you've got something really special, or do you only find out later when you look at what you've got?
Most of the time you know right away; when an artist decides to play it up for the camera or you catch the lighting just right... you know it. Sometimes you find little surprises you didn't know you got after as well.

Which of your COB shots is your favourite, and why?
That would be a backstage shot in Toronto Canada. COB were direct support for Lamb Of God who were just finishing up their set. Roope, Henkka and Jaska were in the dressing room relaxing when suddenly the fire alarm was set off. The venue was a large arena so it was some time before it could be deactivated. In the meanwhile the guys just plugged their ears. I love that snap.

Complete this sentence: "If I wasn't a photographer I'd be ..." amputee, my camera is like an appendage, lol.

Many thanks to Karen! Below is a selection of our favourite Kindred Photography COB shots. Check out more of Karen's work here


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