Photographing the Music Industry


Hey Folks. Have you ever been interested in concert? Photography or photographing musicians will stay tuned. Because in this next interview. I'm speaking with someone who's been doing it for quite a while April. Welcome to another episode of this week in photo. I'm your host Frederik van Johnson. Today I have the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Jay Blake's burn. He is a hesitate to use the word veteran photographer when I talked to many photographers but Jay is a veteran photographer. He knows his way around camera knows way around white. He probably has forgotten more about photography and getting the image than many of us know today and because of him being locked down I got him on the show and I get to pick his brain on how how he's built up such story career shooting music musicians in that kind of thing so jay. Welcome to the show man. It's good to have you a veteran photographer in only seventeen years old. I might have veteran already. Well you need to stop doing what you're doing because you're seven. You're trouble my white beard. So you're you're in San Francisco. You're a San Francisco based photographer and You know for the people that are watching this and that we'll look at the blog post. They'll see some of your images and I encouraged over to your website which will link to from the blog. Post end the description in the youtube video. But let's just start from beginning man you you not the beginning beginning but just give it set the stage for us you know so to speak on the how you got into this type of photography music shooting musicians in celebrities and that kind of thing so. I grew up in suburban New Jersey in the nineteen seventies highschool from nineteen seventy five to nineteen seventy nine and back. Then we have the Internet to tell us how to act or how to live over what to do not we were on our own and you know we pretty much live for sex drugs and rock and roll and the drugs were easy to get and ingest. The Rock and roll is everywhere the sex. We were just praying that we could get some harder to come. Come come a come up with the first two to play. That's why everybody says they become a musician for the girls right and and so you know trying to find and figure out my identity of who I was. I loved having a camera. I love taking pictures of my friends. My friends it was it was the early days of social media. You know take some photos development in the dark room and and give to your friends to hang on their bedroom walls or just to have and you know early early forms of sharing content and I built a darkroom and my mother's basement where I lived in high school And my senior year of High School. They built a dark room in my high school. Seventy nine the teacher for the photography class was the autoshop teacher. He's the guy teaching how to change your oil and fix up. You know change a carburetor or change your spark plugs or whatever it is they were doing in we call those people the grease monkeys whatever they were doing over there but he knew how to develop film so he'd be by default became the photography teacher and I was the very very first student to make a print in that darker. Nine hundred seventy nine and here. I am fifty years later. Forty years forty years later and still still doing it not not sniffing fixture in a darker but Still working as a professional photographer. So that's kind of you know. That was kind of the beginning at first borrowing my my dad's camera barring my stepbrother's camera Barred my dad's camera took it to grateful dead concert in one thousand nine hundred seventy eight. I Don photograph the grateful dead and then just you know just taking pictures and I think I was for my seventeenth birthday. My Dad bought me a you Sheikha. I think it was an f. x one think is what it was now up one. Maybe one or the other can't remember if you go back and look and and started taking pictures of my friends and and bring it to concerts and shooting music So that I could go take that film and and development in the basement and makes some eight by ten prints and hang them on my wall in my bedroom run create my own concert memorabilia and some of those photographs now forty years later are actually valuable and and have shown up in CD packages and box sets and and magazines pictures. That I took one is seventeen and eighteen years. Old Actually had some sort of commercial value historical value a value on the commercial side. And was it about the photography that got you hooked in clearly the hook was embedded deep. Right what was it? The the relationship with light was at the fascination with like mechanics in gear and all that stuff for the relationships that you build like you said you know the social networking back. Then you with people. What was it that kept the fuel going? The kept J. Wanting to take more pictures. I think that people liked the photographs. That is taking. I got positive feedback whether those photographs were really good or not as a as another story and so you know we all lack confidence and self esteem and you know typical teenage things. And so when you're taking a photograph and giving it to a friend or a girl or your buddy and they're hanging on the wall and telling you that it's a great photo you know it's sort of inspires you a little bit right and so you know. I had this thing that was sort of helping to identify who I was and You know where I fit into the script and I really also got turned on by you know in the old days dropping that blank piece of paper and that developer bath in that magic image. You know come up and and become a a a photograph it really was a magical magical experience and one that we cherished every time it happened and we believed in that magic loved that magic and want to keep doing that magic. I remember one time. I had some negatives in a negative page. I always kept all my eggs in the plastic neg pages in strips and I remember like getting some negatives and being with my buddy like in my bedroom and you know typical school night. Where were smoking pot drinking beer and playing poker and like trying to get him to look at the negatives in a loop on the light bulb in my room and look at how great this is the exposure and be like you know like what are you even talking about like this means nothing to me it you know it says nothing it means nothing it makes me feel nothing in for me like like? I'm practically like you know just bursting with joy over this properly exposed photograph of a musician that I loved and photograph just amazed that I actually was able to get the right exposure and the NBA and focused at the same time. See that that would. What do you think they're bigs the question you and I've talked about this a little bit before. But the if you fast forward from those days to today right and and we've got you know all manner of tools and you know some of them borderline magical being able see in the dark these cameras and software and post production and ways to share the images online instantaneously on and on and on. Do you think that joy that you had of looking at that negative through the loop against a bare lightbulb. That kind of I remember that right that little electricity job that you get like. Oh my God. I can't digging darkroom to print this and I want to see what I actually got. Were turned on. Yeah like on. That is an gone now. Do you think that's going Yes and no I feel I feel bad for photographers. That never got to experience their own film and making their own prints I feel bad and weird that a lot of photographers Don't know about photographers that were doing that. I mean serving ten was in the dark room making prince himself. You know certain point Richard Avedon was and if not right in there you know in the dark room making notes and giving direction to his printer So so there's all these photographers out there. That have these experiences but And we talked about this a little bit last week when I was on your when I was the special guest on your your Friday night cocktail. Shebang Frederick Than Johnson's worldwide cocktail Shebang on and Got To you know I talked about how when we download these photos into the computer and they pop up in light room and you immediately want to blow them up and see if they're sharpened the is and if it's a little bit dark but you love the shots. He got the latitude in it to bring it up and make it explode off screen right so yam still fucking turned on by by that magic. It's just a different kind of magic than it. Was you know back then in the day when we were when we were kids? Yeah do you do you? Do you think the the kids today. I want to sound like the old fogy but the kids today that are that are learning photography that are excited by it is it. Are they missing? Sort of you know an an atom or some DNA. Because they didn't go through they didn't walk over the Hawk Cut Kohl's of having to do it with chemistry light room and capture one now or the different kinds of hot cold hot coals. I don't want to discount people that never got to experience that but I think that if you're serious about photography I think that there still are rental dark rooms out there. I think that you should jump in a dark room and make a print or try and make a print. You understand what you know real dodging and burning is and where that came from which we do in the computer now in Light Room Photoshop. Or whatever it is. You're using you know you're still using those skills like the the very first guy that I had worked for me. Actually it was the second guy but he was the really the main guy that really got my digital studio up and running. He was a master black and white printer at a lab here in San Francisco and I stole him away and he was actually just finished. Hit just dropped out of art school but he knew the zone system you know he knew the work of Ansel Adams. He knew how to make beautiful beautiful print in a darkroom and he was able to translate those skills to the computer screen and take my photographs and make them pop off the page in a way that he was also able to do in the dark room and I think that that helped him the next guy that I had worked for me after Paul left so Paul is that guy. The printer was a guy named Ben and he started working for me when he was nineteen. I think nineteen years old and he had just graduated from a photography program on the East Coast and he studied retouching was his specialty and his skills were greater than Paul's but different Paul even taught him things even though Paul never learned proper retouching in school because he brought those skills from the dark room and so Ben then had Paul Mentor have a little bit and his stuff that he learned in his photography program on the East Coast and he became this incredible digital tack working magic in a digital darkroom. We'll call it. I love that all right. There's so much to talk about in in terms of the different directions. This conversation could take you know we can talk about gear. We could talk about lighting. We could talk about software post processing all that. I WanNa talk a little bit before we start looking at your work. I want to talk a little bit about the stuff that you use to make this work and your philosophy around light. I remember when I first got started in photography in nursing out in the military about photography was light that got me most excited and understanding photons and the physics and the speed of light and all that. Can you talk a little bit about your your relationship to to light and how you manage to sort of internalized shall i? I think it. I think you start to understand light as you mature as photographer and you see how it reacts to your to your photograph whether you're shooting on film I'm self taught as it's one hundred percent. I did take some photography classes in college. But all my portraiture work on my lighting on artificial lighting on my strobe lighting. I'm self taught and I think I'm very good at it. I think there's a lot of people that are mind blowing at it and I look at you know different. Instagram feeds of. You know people that are just masters of light. I'm not a technical person in general And I'm not a not a maths geek. Right so I don't not able to whittle it down to you know parabolic you know umbrellas and diffusers and ratios and stuff like that. I mean I understand my dynamite packs work and you know doubling the power and having the power to the same thing as doubling your shutter speed or aperture. Iso It's all in stops and quarter stops and half stops and things like that. And and I could look at a polaroid look at a digital file and they could say that highlight is too much. I don't like that shadow. How do I feel that shadow when I understand all of those things but it took me a long time to get to that in terms of just you know regular light? I think that as we roll into digital photography and you have the ability to instantaneously check exposure and stuff like that. It's a little bit easier than let's say you know doing a test. Polaroid and another test polaroid shooting at Sunset. And you're trying to get that beautiful backlit blown out shot. You know all at once and you're doing all these tests polaroid's on the sun dips below the horizon and you're done and you missed it right out whereas now I mean I can take a picture look at the back of my view finder and I can make an adjustment within seconds come very close and they make do it again in. I make one more adjustment and be ready to go right. And there's a lot of people that are you know can can fit fidget with that forever. Okay should change. She'll be changing my i. Should I be changing my aperture? Should I be changing my shutter speed? You know if I change my aperture. What do I have to do with my strobe output to adjust for that and now the Sun's going down now? How does the aperture change affect the sunset and do I need to compensate with the shutters income and I I can you know and I'm not a math person? I'm like you know I'm just I've never been. I can't do it it's my add. I was never able to concentrate doing any math classes in high school. I never took anything like that in college. It's just not in my DNA. And but I can solve those equations incredibly fast and and I think that. That's you know as a live concert photographer. I think that makes gives you an upper hand in terms of getting a great photograph is to be able to solve that problem. Incredibly quick To get the correct exposure and using the right shutter speed and the right. It's not just the correct exposure but it's the correct exposure for the situation that they've seen and it's like it's almost like you have superpowers because because you know you look at it. I. It's kind of true because you look at it from the standpoint of of Lake. We were talking about the supercomputers in our cameras today. Let us do all kinds of crazy stuff and they offload all that Matthew. We're talking about to the processor and they get it down to just you can put it on auto or intelligent auto or whatever press the button. It's going to evaluate the scene and give you something back right. It may not be exactly what you needed for that situation. But you're going to get a decent exposure back but someone like you. That understands what's happening with the light and can make those decisions you can help guide the computer to do the right thing and it's interesting. I mean I've gone to the Nikon booth at s right and had them show me some things that I just didn't know like I know. There are all sorts of buttons and filters in settings and scenes and pre pre-programme things in my camera. That might make my life easier or make me a better photographer but because I came from a camp known old school film camera where you had auto no autofocus manual focus in UN shutter speed and aperture. And you gotta figure it out you know so photography's a science-based based art right and so you know. Nowadays it's pretty easy to get the correct exposure because we have the you know the idiot screen on the back of every camera but when we shot fill you actually needed to know the technical skills to expose film properly because he did not have a properly exposed negative or slide you had nothing right the two sides of one coin though right because it could be on the one side you like. We were talking about hot coals right you. There was a lot of and expertise involved to just getting to the point where you can internalize what's happening on that film when the light it you know that what we call the learning. Lube Ray shot. I take picture. I go develop the film. I printed film. It's crap okay. Let's go do it again and change to change the settings today that was days right or at least ours back then today. It's second second rate. Does that mean does that mean. We have better photographers because they can. That loop is going like this instead of legs this but back then. I think it gives you the ability to become better photographer faster right because yeah I used to shoot portrait of my roommates when I first started playing with studio strobe lighting. It'd be like go to my roommate's it'd be like okay. You sit here on the set up one light here and I'm going to put an umbrella on it. Oh look at what that looks like now. Now I'M GONNA move that umbrella over to here now. I'm going to move it over to here now. I'M GONNA get the umbrella often. I'm going to bounce that light off the ceiling. Now I'm GonNa you know. And every time you're taking a photo you're with a slide with slide film and a light meter right and you're taking notes you're saying. I shot this at one. Twenty five f four but my light read but I put a gel on at a half and I- i- compensated by opening up a stop and here it is at the half stop open. And here's the quarter stop open. And here's the exact exposure based on the light meter. And then you're getting your slides back uncut and you're like comparing it to your notes and saying and you're right like so. I had to run to the lab and dropped my film off and it was ready in four hours can go back and get it or get it the next day and then go on the table and I'd be like okay. Frame number one shot a four but my meter read four and a half an F. Four looks perfect. And here's one that I shot it for an anthem. Wow that's a that's too dark. And now here's the GEL on it and it said F foreign at said F four and a half but I shouted a two point and it's perfect because it's absorbing all that yellow light and well now manning a Blue Gel and a green gel on the background and now it's doing this and wait it all these notes and you're trying to figure it out and when you go on a shoot you're not taking those notes with you in your. It's in your head like okay if I use this gel at this exposure and this situation if I don't open up by a half a stop I'm going to be under exposed and this is going to happen but if I put this really heavy Blue Gel on it and over over exposed by full stop. I'm going to get this beautiful milky white skin right. So there's all these things that you start learning on a creative level as well as technical level but again it's this loop that takes hours if not days whereas now you can do the same thing right so there's an online learn. Anything website called skill share and I just finished making a six or seven or eight part. Beginner Intermediate Photography Class Right. I'm I'm sheltering in place. My son is a video editor and he does work for skill share. And so he said. Hey let's do a class you now because it created a work for him the creative an editing job for him and so I agreed and so he's been filming me down to my studio and I really focused on. Doing the class project was creating an interesting portrait by playing with your depth of field in your shutter speed and that was the big takeaway and there's other stuff leading up to that and talking about identity and shutter speed and you know the triangle that we talked you mentioned before. Iso shutter speed aperture and how they all and it's funny. I never call it the trying but I guess that's what it really is and I've heard that expression before but And Show yes. It's interesting with a with you. Talk about that circle or you know it's the it's a circle inner triangle right because it's the circle that loop of learning right and until you can internalize it and then you're learning the exposure triangle. I wonder like back then. It was expensive exaggerate. Good real quick. I was going to say yes. Yeah I had to pay for that role fell and US film and I'm a starving artist right. I'm living in a house with six roommates in my rent. Is One hundred twenty five dollars a month that I could barely pay? And we're putting in ten dollars a week for communal food that I could barely come up with right so to spend twenty bucks on a roll of slide film and Development to to do this whereas you know and the amount of time as well whereas now so it's just with the skill share thing you know I'm telling people what to do. And you get instant results either by downloading your computer or even on the back of your camera right and so the the accelerated learning curve is like a rocket ship right. You know where you can learn what maybe took me weeks. And weeks and weeks and weeks and months and months and months and hundreds of dollars in testing film an emotions and lighting and do I like CODA grown better the next chrome one hundred and do I like extra chrome sixty four and do I like Fuji Better than the Kodak and do I like the TMZ thirty two hundred Kodak Black and white fast speed film shot at eight hundred sixteen hundred or thirty two hundred. What do I like best and right under saddle so again you know. It's this great expense and I was not wealthy. I had no money. You know I had nothing and I had nobody giving me any money and I was doing it on my own and I was like I saw that. The investment was worthwhile to learn these things. But you're geeking out to right because I I think you replace one addiction with another race so you go for him back in the day it was like you mentioned all these different film types and speeds and grainy this and black and white and slow pentatonic. Experts is high-speed for this. And then you flip over to the paper and the different filters as you could get to get different effects on the paper. We were geeking out about that stuff right and now I think people are geeking out about cameras and software. Yeah Yeah I wonder I wonder you know. I'm curious about the before. I WANNA look into the some of the work that you do. But I'm curious about the gear that you chose to shoot with. They would what are the bodies and lenses that you right so was a film shooter in Medium Format Hasselblad Guy and I had a fish. I lands which I think was a thirty for the House of lot. These are over ten years. Thirty forty fifty and eighty and a one twenty from my Hasselblad and those were my lenses there and and then I shot with a wide locks which is a panoramic camera. I shot with plastic toy cameras. The action sampler the whole I shot with a four by five cheap. Kelly met brand for my camera with some good lenses on it. I shot with Nikon and thirty five millimeter for a long time. It was all prime lenses when I'd go out and shoot a concert. I brought a a sixteen fish. I twenty four millimeter. Two point. Eight thirty five millimeter F. To for a long time I left a fifty millimeter at home. love my fifty millimeter now. Eighty F- TO A one thirty five to eight and one eighty two eight and I had a three hundred to eight. All those lenses were Nikon except for my three hundred millimeter. Two point eight was Tamra. Lens that I bought used from a guy in Santa Cruz. Decades ago told me all those in your camera bag. J Yes they were. Yeah I went out to a show. I was out there with sixteen. Twenty four thirty five eighty five one thirty five one eighty at all like fanny packs and camera bags and you now had two or three bodies around my neck with color film only black and white film and You know I know a lot of digital shooters that shoot rock and roll and they still like to have to camera bodies with a long lens in Shortland. So maybe a twenty. Four to seven on one Cameron. Seventy two hundred zero fourteen to twenty four and a twenty four to seventy. I just like one body now but I've got all my lenses in my harness packs Low Low in a low year. Low Fat you know all those bags and dully low pro. Low Pro at low pro. That's who I have all my year with and I carry a lot of weight that kills my back and and you know but nowadays sometimes I'll go out and I'll be like okay. I'm going to bring my. I'm going to bring my twenty four prime my fifty prime and I wanNA five prime. And that's it you know and I'll like that and I'll be like what about zoom lenses. Zoom lenses have come a long way back in the day used to be as soft and now I have pretty good. Now that I've sort of what happened was is I. I got tired of Zoom Lenses and I wanted to. I felt like I was shooting. Fish in a fishbowl. Was Too easy for me. You wanted some Dallas decided. I wanted to challenge. I'm like okay. I'm just going to go out with these prime lenses. And just shoot with Prime Lenses and see what I can come up with. It's different and so I might just go out with us. Three Lenses I mentioned twenty four fifty one zero five and then maybe I'll bring like my fourteen to twenty four just in case of it's like a small venue that I'm going to be up-close maybe I might want to bring that fourteen at twenty four but on my zoom side of things with Nikon fourteen twenty four to eight two thousand four seventy eight seventy two hundred eight the holy Trinity. The they all step right up. And they're all beautiful lenses but the Zoom Lens at two point. Eight gives you a different exposure than a than a fixed? You know a Prime Lens at two point eight it lets more light and it just does. I can't explain. It might be half stop. Maybe a quarter stop but they're they're sharper brighter. They're they are better lights. I mean better lenses and so but yeah but all those you know and what happened was is that I actually. I actually was doing a job for rolling Stone magazine back in the day. I remember what year this was. But somewhere in the early to mid two thousand two thousand or six or four three two thousand and I'm GonNa Guess Two thousand and five or six U2 Bano and the edge from the ban Youtube Ireland were in Cupertino debut. Know if you remember this there was a U2 ipod that you could buy it was working at apple then. And I have that ipod with every one of their records on it. So Steve Jobs brought Bono and the edge out and on a stage was a press junket and I was shooting at for Rolling Stone magazine and and I had a digital camera because they needed it fast and I hate those files because they look like crap you know. They're probably like two megabytes to Beg Pixel Camera Pictures maybe three. And but I didn't have not invested in a good zoom lens yet. I was still prime and so shooting by one. Eighty two point eight manual focus. My eyes were not as good as they were. When I was a young whippersnapper started wearing glasses when I turned forty so I'm fifty eight so eighteen years ago and and I got those pictures back and half of were out of focus that and it was at that point where I said it is time for me to invest autofocus Jim Lange and I bought my first seventy two hundred. Wow I think we've all been there when you you're usually happens on mission critical jobs. I waste Bano and you to the in ipod with apple right. Yeah absolutely and I did get enough. I fulfilled my assignment and they got the shot that they ran in the magazine and whatnot. But I was just like I kept. My eyes. Aren't good him out. You know I can't focus and I go back and I look at photographs that I took of bans on stage that are super high energy and super high high excitement and lots of movement going on and I'm shooting with manual focus. Nikon lenses nine spot on sleep. Okay we got to talk about that. 'cause it's like. I've tried to shoot live with limited success. Let's say not even in a professional manner but I've tried to shoot some concert photography. Just you know little local bands or whatever that is hard like Kudos to photographers. They could do that. Because it's like I don't know if it's the most challenging but it's got to be up there with one of the most challenging of photography try to attempt to shoot because it's you know constantly changing light crowd of crazy excited people bouncing around frenetic performers onstage high motion in high motion in low light. You know how are you able to get such shots out of that kind of situation? A we have been trained by special forces from the fifth dimension lightning in a bottle. There you go. That's the dark matter. You guys are shooting with dark matter cameras or some practice practice. You know you you. It's you gotTa get you. Just gotTa do it. You GotTa do it yes. Lighting conditions are tough. I mean it's hard to be in focused at F two or two point four two point eight or two point five. Technically right at your. It's it's tough to be focused when you're wide open. It's tough to be focused in chartres when your hand holding sixty second at two point eight at ISO thirty two hundred with a long lens you know and you know this is where you want it to be in focus you want. There is to be in focus right state. You know you're in a pit. Somebody's on stage. And you're looking up at them and you're shooting wide open and you're focusing on. There is everything below them going out of FOCUS THEIR GUITAR AND THEIR HANDS. And everything you know you wanna try and shoot straight on seeking get that plane with her face and like Atari maybe both focus and watch sharp is sharp guitar strings but I go back and look at some stuff that I shot on film. That was happening in real time and incredibly fast and it's in focus and I'm just like I don't know how I pull that off but I was like you know because that's the other thing you were shooting film these days you can kind of look at the back and say well yeah. Geez that sucks. Let me adjust your yeah. You're you're you're you. You know you develop an eye for exposure and you develop an eye for Focus and you. You know you act like a cowboy in a in a shootout okay corral. You're reacting as fast as possible to hit on the head. Yeah that's going to be some adrenaline going on there. When you're when you're out there and it's just like yeah I can't imagine you especially if you're shooting like a ban that you love and you're you're nailing the shots and you're just like that's got to be the best feeling in the world absolutely I mean think about it like think about people that chase tornadoes right and they get a shot of their first tornado think about the the adrenaline rush. That's going on with them and and You know everything like that where you are shooting what you love your shooting sports and all of a sudden you know you've gone from just shooting college games to getting on the field for a playoff game because you've got a press credential and you're in the dugout and you're next to the sports illustrator photographer and the newspaper photographer. And you're getting that shot of the home. Run or the the out at home plate or whatever it might be and it's just like that magic moment that you just captured and and you're like holy moly. I did this and I can continue to do this and I'm going to. I did it this time and it was this good and the next time I do. It's going to be even better and it's going to get better. It's going to get better every time I do it. And and it's going to get better because I'm going to force myself to learn how to make it better to practice to get better right and I think that also is I think. That's a lot of photographers. Downfall is that. They don't know how to make photography better. They are not. They don't have the ability. I look back on when I I was shooting and I was trying to make a living and shooting professional jobs. I you know I look at the film and I got back and I was very happy with it and then years later as my I developed and I got better. I look at that film. I'll be like Oh my God. What was I thinking this stuff all but you know whoever was looking at it decided that it was good and it worked for them in it but it inspired me because I was getting positive feedback and I go back to earlier work and I say what was I thinking. Why did I do that? Why did I over expose it like that? Why did I think I need a contrast in negative and and you know it's it's all of those things that are going through your head in a split second That gives you that that adrenaline dopamine rush which I guess is exactly why social media works because it gives these people this this dopamine rush when somebody likes their photo. And it's that that reinforcement that you know what you're doing is good and it's valid and and but even if it's not right because even the social media drip is like a. It's like a morphine drip right make. Maybe it's an methamphetamine draft stops more than stops there like. Oh my God I got to do something to get more that right and we talked about this last week. When we're on the thing is that unfortunately due to social media we now live in a world of mediocrity and so if you're looking at is mediocre photos than that's the bar that you set for yourself and so when I was first starting. I was opening up magazines rolling stone or looking at record covers going into record stores and looking at albums and I was inspired by what I saw and I'd be like this is what I WANNA do. How do I do it? Okay well this guy probably has a light in looking at the soda properly. That lights probably over here and it looks like there's a second light that's maybe hitting this over here maybe even a third one that's hitting on the top of the head and okay so I don't really I don't want my pictures to look like a yearbook photos. I'm going to get rid of that light but I like those two lights and I know I'm never going to be able to copy this exactly but if I go get my lights in my diffusion and my look and feel I create my own look in my own style and speaking of your own looking your own style. I want to look at some of your work. Let's with your permission to bring up your website. It's mediocre highly doubt bad. So let's bring your website over here there. It is so we're at Bloomberg DOT COM RIGHT. So so you can go to. Blake's DOT COM and also I have another website called rock out. Books DOT COM AND AT ROCK OUT BOOKS DOT COM. That's where you can all. I books that I published. I've done fifteen coffee table. Books that my music graffiti and those a bunch of those are on my rock outlook site and also my sale print galleries my website. Blake's for DOT com. That we're at right now is more showcasing it to people just need a place to go. Hey what's your website. That kind of thing. So I'll I'll tell you who these people are real quick. So we have Jerry Garcia. This Brian Wilson from the beach boys. The next shot is good at four there. That's Johnny and June cash. That's James Brown. Stop at this second vocalist. Portrait's are available light with t Max. Thirty two hundred probably shot at sixteen hundred pretty grainy. The one of James Brown was probably backstage in an address. You Room and just. I probably shocked at thirty two a second intentionally. Because I wanted to try and get a little bit of motion blur if I remember correctly I have like an entire roll of film from this little portrait. Had Job thing and that's beyond the motor. Drive Okay Thirty Second. Fifteenth of a second sixty second you know and just try to capture like a little tiny bit emotion there whereas June Johnny. I'm just like okay. I don't want this to be a really just a snapshot Flash on camera with some extra grown film unlike else this was some grainy black and white film and make it a little bit more. You know report. Taj Right The next shot here looks like it's the blue one is Tom Waits. And that shot with four by five camera that shot with tungsten filming a daylight setting which goes naturally blue four by five cameras. He could see his legs and had our little out of focus. Probably shifting the land the little bit to kind of give it that that look and just one of those crazy shoot. Somebody like Tom. Waits in captured? This blue was not imposed right. Yes exactly so. This is intentional. This is shooting indoor balanced film. Tungsten film an outdoor open shade so indoor fill a lot of blue in it to compensate for overhead incandescent lighting to give you a natural skin tone right and so It's thousand thirty two hundred degrees Kelvin. And I shot this outdoors in open shade and it gives you this blue tent and said this is not an photoshop. This is right out of the camera. Great this is great this Carlos Santana bb king with Lucille and Santana's available light and BB. King is a strobe lights. And it's an a backstage dressing room at this vintage old theater and that's old movie palace projector behind him an old phone booth and I think I had just two lights set up here and this is like Probably have five to ten minute photo. Shoot at most. Use Them for that hot minute. Sit Down got you get and then get out that some pressure to just this kind of stuff being when they're on stage that's a whole different world right. Yeah do you want to get them to react smile? I probably said something funny to to get to react now. Yeah that is crazy. That's another four by five portrait of Omni DEFRANCO's the blue one gets the I did. The tilt shift so if you look at it closely her face in her eyes during focus and then it slowly. Just let bleeds out of focus there right so so I was even though I was tilt shift on my front Lens Element. I was still focusing right on her eyes and the depth of field is like barely a quarter of an edge. That next black each other's Tracy Chapman and a recording studio is doing pictures for a record. She is worse. How did I know that I knew? Obviously you can't tell who it is. But for some reason my brain's tracy chat and just you know just thought that that was a beautiful photograph and I had black and white fast speed film in my camera and two hundred and boom next shot. Is John Lee Hooker and that shot with four by five camera with strobes on an old polaroid Phil type fifty five. They don't anymore and that that actually gives you a negative so these next two shots John Lee Hooker and radiohead look at the edges of the photograph. Right that's like that top edge right there with that little list circles. That was the it was actually right below the circles. They're those little dots. The film was perforated. You're actually meant to just rip off the film but I used to just leave it on there because I liked the way it looked and the top row has circles there and but these photographs are shot with that black white film and film gave you a negative also sends positive and a negative type. Fifty doesn't exist anymore. This is Emmylou Harris Nashville legend. The next shot is a woman named Suzy Suv from Suzanne. The ban cheese Famous Brit pop singer bandleader and this is kind of done a mosh to Edward Steichen and his photograph of the woman behind the lace veil. This beautiful look at that portrait. This is definitely not a yearbook portrait. Iggy and just. He knew that he was smoking. It would really bring something out. Because that's kind of him you. I was like yeah. Go ahead and smoke in the studio. Even though I wouldn't you don't love it. I just felt like it was again and I I used to like nowadays. I light my portraits. A little bit more flat than I used to do. Maybe I'm growing up or something But this particular shot here is probably one Softbank's on him and just one light on the background just to get a little bit of separation between him in the background and intentionally that light a little wide that key light on him just said that he would really go into shadow but like you can just sorta see a little bit of his eye on that and his right eye and on on the left side of the photo and that little dot which is the catch light in his eye before we move on. I'm curious to how you getting. These people is it word of mouth air used. Is it because you move in certain circles and Maggie? No and they know who you are. It's a magazine assign almost all of those magazine assignments. I think the Brian Wilson from the beach boys one was not it was a fundraiser event. And he was doing it with another musician who I did a lot of work with and so I just brought one little light with me a little portable battery powered light on a stand. So when I didn't have to shoot flash on camera and just ask Brian Wilson if you just posed for me for a minute and probably shot ten frames and black and white collar have you. Have you seen the work flow change at all or the number of assignments that come in all over the yeah? Yeah I mean you know. And it's all change again with corona lot of print. Magazines are going to go on a business. I don't think they can survive this. We'll see how it goes but Yeah I mean. Magazines dropped like flies all the time and they become just online or whatever. But you know I think the glory days of magazines autography is pretty much over. This is not older over. Let's take a look at some more of these images because these are these are crazy. You get lost in your portfolio chains and Diction Joni Mitchell and the blue one five camera. The next one is the Chili peppers. And that shot with just a few lights on them but all the to on them. One of the background That's when they were little babies back in nineteen eighty nine grownup Actually just this is thirty thirty one years ago top heady. That's intentionally shot with some fast grainy film and a slow shutter speed and this was just an an event that we were all just hanging out out. I just wanted to get like a boring snapshot Flash on camera which I could have done or you know Or even I wanted this vibe I wanted you know I wanted to try and capture just a little bit of movement and Blur and to me at works and this photo you know. And that's and he's iconic. He has an iconic face. You don't need to show every bit of detail in him right. Yeah Wow guys black crows. Yeah and then Willie Nelson after that and then the bus is Neil young so when you get the call from from a magazine or you know someone who's hiring you for assignment describe what they call goes like. Hey by the way. Bb King's zones so or over there and get a shot. We need a shot nowadays. We don't get phone calls. It's all in okay. Yes but and then occasionally there are so. Hey are you available on you know? This particular date. May twenty-first zones doing shot San Francisco. And we've got approval to photo shoot for feature or cover. Whatever it might be available. We think in these new between four and six. Pm YOU'RE GONNA get twenty minutes with this person Cheryl available. Let's look and then they'll go back and book it with the publicist or whoever the manager and then I might have one phone call with the photo editor are jerker like are you looking for looking for any particular. G need more than one shot. Is it going to be a big opener in the article and then a secondary pickup shot? Or you're going just go get a live. Shot for the pick of the secondary pick-up shot And so you know you're just trying to get as much information as you can so that you can go and do the job and you know and and and you know magazines are paying less and less money. I mean a lot of magazines might say okay. I've got a flat six hundred dollars that I can pay you to shoot this. But that's includes your assistant and your film processing. You might spend two hundred dollars processing and your assistance to. Why are you going to spend two hundred dollars to do you know? Make dollars a new job. Take you all day right. And so it's it's just to you check your you know. Usually availability on a certain date is where the conversation starts and then depending on who the director is and exactly what they're doing it just depends on if they want to give you total creative freedom. Ask You if you have an idea that you can share with them or if you just want to wing it and be like okay. I'M GONNA go get some you know toy glasses and I'm gonNA put toy glasses that say happy birthday. I love strippers on. Everybody's Ed's and see what happened. You know it's it depends. I mean Anti Liebowitz was the one who came up with a brilliant idea of concept photographs that were told a story through wardrobe and setting and as well as the subject matter. I love that. Want to switch gears and dive into the so. We were looking at shots that we're all done in camera right so this was all film for the most part right. Let's I want to switch gears and look at your the new side right so an on your on your website. You've got music. Nuhere switch over there and go through a couple of shots. This this is your digital era. Everything here yes. This is all digital of course and this is Jackie Green and the shot on the right is just on a white seen list. Thirty five millimeter Nikon and gets his legs are going out of focus in the bottom. I some tilt shift architectural lenses that I like to do portrait's with a mess around with and kind of mess with the with the point of Focus that you can kind of see how those are going to focus and that's an intentional. Creative decision The shot outside is just Jackie. With some strobe. Lights plugged into generator. You know this This next shot inside a little trailer. So this is backstage stage at festival called. Hardly strictly bluegrass. That's Elvis Costello. I should have closed the curtains because I hate that. Those ten center back there but it was this little old fashioned from the nineteen sixties. Little like Camping trailer and it was like a prompt backstage. A set decoration backstage and L. This to come inside and sit for me and he came in for a minute and sat down and I think I shot this with flash on camera but I'm bouncing it off of the wood ceiling and it was going very warm and we digital. We were able to pull that warmth out of it. Yeah it's getting these people like the these. We've I'm sure very busy musicians to get them to come. Sit even for like ten minutes. This is it. Is it pulling teeth or is it like yeah I WANNA get. I WANNA get my image made because You know that's how I make my living right like this particular image of Elvis Costello like this is probably going to say three to four minute photo shoot Whereas go to the next one. The next the next shot is a band called smash mouth that a couple of really big hits back in the nineties walking on the Sun. And I'm a believer and all star and I shot a bunch of there really early records and this was a publicity shoot. I did with the with the band this at this point this has got to be almost seven or eight years old But this is outdoors with multiple lights multiple strobe lights and since they hired me like I probably spend five hours with them. We probably did five different locations and Wardrobe changes and indoor and outdoors in vertical and horizontal. Says a real photo. Shoot as a real. Yeah let's go through a couple more and then I'll let you go with his Dave Matthews. This is the cover of Acoustic Guitar magazine. This winter in here. Yeah and the next one is less. Klay poll and that was for. I think actually less hired me for that. Make new publicity photos for him as that. Shoot right there as you probably know all these guys right. I mean not the most part do I mean this is Paul. Simon is actually shot for Apple. Computer their original Apple Music series as they did and shot digitally without with a phase. One back on the back of my Hasselblad. This is ridiculous. Look at these who these guys. This is a bad called blind pilot. And they're all rock band from the Pacific northwest and this was down in Texas and their manager asked me if I would do a quick shot of them. I had no meeting with me or anything like that and so I found a location where I can put them on this poor to there's light coming in from the side of see you know just looking the guy on the right. I look at all of them. You could see where lights coming from right now out there and I believe I remember correctly I believe that in this is a long time ago I might even popped a little bit of a flash off on this just to give tiny little bit of Phil you and But he can barely even tell and you know. It's not often that I do orchards like that. Where I'm mixing available light with FLASH ON CAMERA I'll do that in event type situations but not in my portrait work. My portrait I would if I was doing a full shoot with these guys. I would have had umbrellas and Power. Packs are soft boxes or beauty dishes and my assistant than you know would have. It would have increased the size of the crew and the production and everything having all that equipment. But I didn't have it with me anyway. I was down South by South West and Austin. Just shooting the event for a for a client and they asked me photographs. Show so of all these shots the amount more right because this is like we said amount. Do you have a favorite A? You know a favorite child you like nailed it gave. Her child is so my my websites got a handful of images in it. I was actually just talking with my daughter today about updating my website. It's time I just have a few logistical things to figure out about it. But if you really WanNa see what. I'm working on all the time and a combination of old and new good to my instagram pages. So I have one that's J. Blake's Berg Aka ESP ARE G J Blake's Burger. The other one is called retro. Blake's Berg and Retro Blake's Burke is a brand new instagram site that my daughter is curator for me and so she has it all set up and she's choosing the photos and writing the captions and whatnot. And that's Retro Blake's and we just started out a few weeks ago so it's only got I don't know a thousand followers and fifty posts or something like that and my regular. Instagram is Jabe Lakes Berg and got you know sixty thousand people following along and a lot of people because that's where you want to go and then on facebook. I'm Jay Apple expert. Berg Dot sorry at James Blake's bird photography not J. Blake's on facebook. Yeah so here's a bunch of stuff that I post regularly on instagram. You know that they are in the middle. That was his birthday. I posted for him. He's a friend of mine that sunset shop there that that on the left hand side with a girl so she's one of the biggest pop stars. In Italy she's called the Madonna of Italy and I shot an album for her number of years ago. That Shot Square with the hassle. Blonde on Chelm. Yeah so that's that's instagram. So let's get this. Come join the party. And then retro. Blake's burn this on. My daughter is doing it so like here. We go all the way on the top row. On the right Tottenham now top rail right so that's a series a polaroid's these are all shot with four by five Camera Ryan against surveys is not letting you have to log. It's not letting you actually get into it. But as a series of ten polaroid's Jot with four by Cameron these role employees. A clothing brand called hot topic clothing company retail China. I saw their annual annual report three four years in a row and we always use their employees as our models because they dressed like the product like their customers and said this is a series of ten polaroid's that did and then I handed this for by Polaroid's ask final art. So it's not like I did. Test Polaroid the final art polaroid and then handed those into my client just scan and decided they wanted to use them so okay awesome. Congratulations on all this stuff. So what's what's next. What's next as we gotTA GET THROUGH CORONA? Ya as I mentioned. I published self-published. My own books done fifteen coffee books to rock OUT BOOKS DOT COM. Check those out so I'm looking at long long long term projects right now looking at Several book ideas going through my archives and pulling stuff out for some of these ideas. I'm working on a book of another photographers' Work Right now. That's another thing my company does is that we catching photographs. We package packaging books. So we package books for other people that want to self publish their books so we can do everything from design to printing to trucking in customs and overseas shipping. And things like that getting into your warehouse. So we'd like to help. My company helps other photographers independently. Self published coffee table books so I sell published on my own books as well and so. We're a couple of books that are just at the very early stages On selling fine art prints of my work. So that's a little bit busy and books and shipping that stuff. You're busy down you got to do you. Got One point six million digital files on having by computer. I haven't looked at in five or ten years and just and just looking at it in amazement and being like I can't believe I shot all the stuff you know work with this artist. Snoop DOGG OR DR. Dre or the grateful dead or Tom. Waits Neil young or Carlos Santana and so I feel very fortunate that I've been able to work with all of these people over and over and over again and and Create a body of work that resonates with me through the beauty of social media and instagram and facebook. I have learned that my work resonates with the people that are looking at my work and people like it and they enjoy it. And it's a good distraction and I love sharing my work. I remember I remember back in the day when we all shot film. I was at a concert in San Francisco. And you know this at the time probably thirty years old and maybe thirty five and this kid next go shooting for and I said Oh request magazine. That was a magazine based in Minneapolis. That came out through San goody music stores and he's like And I was like. Oh yeah the new issue has a story on disband. And he's like Oh my God I just got that issue and I have those photographs torn out of the magazine hanging on my bedroom wall and that was social media back then you know and and so like I know. Photographers took pictures through their negative in their slides in boxes and put them in the closet and I was taking pictures of the people could enjoy them. And that's why still posted so much stuff on Seychas on social media because I want my friends and fans if that's I call them followers We're not a cult to enjoy what I'm doing and look at what I'm doing and get something from it and let that left photograph. Take them back to another and space. That was so important to them like in a specific concert or a an event they were they were at or you know jazz faster. Whatever it might be that. They can reconnect with that moment through that photographs. I love that man. Congratulations on all this stuff. You have a lot to do. You've got the energy to do it. You got the talent to end the horsepower to make it happen. So can congratulations on everything. You've done what you're doing what you're GonNa do so and keep doing what you're doing. I'm excited thank you. Yeah man well thank you for coming on. Thank you for coming on. I said we'll link to all your your instagram's rock out books DOT COM Blake's Berg Dot com all that stuff linked to it in the blog. Post in the youtube description for this episode out and and keep doing man. I'm going to have a feeling we're going to talk again because there's a meal we didn't get into archiving. Just switched skimmed over there so much more always leave them wanting more always leaving one more shot close to a million images on film and you know in another got a million six million seven digital files and and We've scanned about eighty thousand pieces of film. And so you know. I've I've got a stack right here on my on my desk of proof sheets and this stack appreciate terra. Show to the stack of proof sheets. This is only about a quarter to a third of. What's my desk? This is just film that I shot that I want to go back through and see if there's anything on there that I want to scan and get into the computer and and You know get get digital tournant digital man so we can share on social media because it trapped right now right. They're trapped on a negative. You gotta you gotTa set them free. Yeah so you know no shortage of projects no shortage of things to do and hopefully the world will get better soon. It will heal itself Hopefully we will. We will get people to run our country and our countries that care about our environment and care about our people and we'll come back bigger better stronger than we were. And our economy will thrive and we'll get back to work and be able to make amazing photographs once again. I have no doubt that all that is going to happen. So Jay Blake's Berg. Thank you so much for coming. On in the yeah. We'll see impart to of this though. We got to do it again anytime I'm ready. You take thank you cheers.

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