In sports, a hat trick refers to an achievement of three positive accomplishments within a single game. Master music and travel photographer Ross Halfin recently posted a series of images from an Aerosmith performance that exemplifies this tremendous feat in the world of music photography. I find this series of images awe-inspiring – a wonderful reminder of how far I have come and an inspiration to how far I have to go to even begin to stand on the shoulders of such a giant in this industry.
These images speak to my very core. My existence as a photographer. My love of music and the music industry. They represent every personal and professional goal that I aspire to reach through my photography. I have stared at them for hours. I have stared at them some more. They have become a part of my vision board. They have that magical “something”. These images did not happen by accident, nor where they staged. They truly represent a master at his finest – likely captured in a span of 1-2 seconds.
Shooting live music is total chaos. No control over the lighting. No control over the artist. Little to no control over positioning. Time limits. Over zealous security. Indulgent fans. On the fly lens selection. Constantly adjusting of shutter, aperture, and ISO to an ever-changing myriad of shooting conditions. Anticipation of key moments. Managing the unexpected. No chimping while shooting. Timing is everything. While I’ve never had the pleasure of shooting alongside Ross, it is something I hope to do one day. I’ve often joked that I would shoot with an old Polaroid and ask him to get out of my way as I am working. Truth is, I would be honored and I would watch and learn. His technical ability, keen eye, and environmental awareness that show throughout his images and are perfectly captured here. The atmosphere of the performance, the exposure for the lighting, shoot positioning and capture framing, and a key moment of connection – playfulness even, with the artist coming together for a few hundred milliseconds.
Access to cover live performances does not come easy. Simply getting to the photo pit on a regular basis to shoot a handful of songs takes years of experience and networking – not to mention being on assignment for the artist, their label, a promoter, or a legit publication. Anything beyond 1-3 songs from the pit is special. Being provided the privilege to photograph from the artists performance space is quite a big deal and reserved (if ever granted at all) for a select few who have proven themselves through technical ability, professional behavior, and a reputation of quality. While I generally do not favor on-stage shots featuring the rear view of artists, this series is special and truly provides a feeling of “being there”.
Even when the access and technicals come together, intimate onstage moments such as those captured here are very rare indeed. The images clearly represent a long-standing relationship between the artist and the photographer that is established through many years (decades even) of mutual respect and trust. Perhaps even representative of a friendship. I love the onstage interaction between Steven and Ross here and the perspective of the hat from launch to landing. A portion of the crowd is on looking as well which lends additional perspective.
This is how the big boys do it and it simply does not get any better.
Thank you Ross for raising the bar, again.
All images in this post Copyright Ross Halfin 2012. Used by permission.
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Music and Travel Photographer