Sunday, April 19, 2015

Opening Day at Country Thunder Arizona


The Main Stage!
I've always been interested in concert photography.  I've done some shots in the past of country bands and really enjoyed it.  What kind of photographer am I?  What do I love photographing?  These are important questions really.  I do what I love.  I love country music.  I love photography.  A nice match.  I don't have any feeling for loud rock music or rap, so I won't photograph that.  I also like horses, cowboys, cowgirls, and rodeos.  So I photograph them too!  
Old Pals Jim Brady and Faron Hall in the VIP Section!

Before Country Thunder, I would just go and shoot... but I did something smart at the 2014 Photoshop World.  I took the Alan Hess/Scott Diussa Real World Concert Photography workshop.  It really helped me photographing the opening day at Country Thunder.  

First off, I'm a former newsman/broadcaster, so I'm used to how they treat media and the need to get a media pass.  I was able to secure a media pass, so I could get up nice and close to the acts.  As Alan said, you have to ask.  Worst that can happen is you get turned down.  I asked and got one!

Use burst mode on your camera.  I found that was good advice.  Burst mode ensures one of the photos will be sharp and the performers eyes will be open.  

Open up the aperture.. as low a number as the lens will allow.  Lighting is weird at these concerts, so I also started with ISO800 and as it got darker outside, I switched to ISO1600.  My Canon 5D Mark III can handle the higher ISO without much grain or noise.  I found the Canon 70-200 lens was my workhorse.  I also used the 24mm setting for some wider "establishing" shots from my Canon 24-105mm.  

As for my goals, I wanted to focus on the opening acts, the up and coming performers.  The headliners like Brett Eldredge, Blake Shelton, and Luke Bryan are what everybody goes for.  These are the acts where photographers are told the limitations:  maybe you get to photograph two or three songs and that's it.  Or, in the case of Blake Shelton, none at all.  The artists I photographed had no limitations on how many I took.  Frankly, I want to photograph the hungry ones, the soon-to-be-stars so I can show them what I can do.  Who knows?  Maybe I will impress the artist or their publicity people and get them again when they hit it big!  By the way, I had another commitment on Friday night, so I missed my all time favorites BIG & RICH!!!  This was the duo that got me interested in country music in the first place.  


Little Girl Gonna Get an Autograph from Clare Dunn!
I also looked behind me at the fans.  By the way, another reason I like to photograph country artists?  The fans are the nicest in the world.  Just like the performers.  
Happy Country Thunder Fans





















I photographed Old Dominion.... 

Old Dominion















The amazing Clare Dunn... pressure is on with her because I found she just doesn't take a bad photo!  I hope you agree.


Clare Dunn





















American Longspurs...


American Longspurs





and






The Railers... a group from Arizona!


The Railers











A special thanks to KMLE Country Radio (my favorite station!) in Phoenix for being the major sponsor and Caitlin DeForest, Publicity and Events Manager for Webster Public Relations, for helping me with the media and parking passes!  

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

Jim Patterson

* Look for my soon-to-be published photobook on the Cancer Society's Relay for Life.  Sales to benefit the Cancer Society!

Here are all of my photos from opening day at Country Thunder Arizona.  Music by Derek Clegg from Free Music Archive.  Thank you!