Art Rock

Shot in the Dark: Angels & A-Holes

When you're in the photo pit taking pictures for a publication such as Rocks Off, you can become the unwanted center of attention from both the audience and especially the artists. Most of the time you are only a few feet away from the performer, and often in their direct line of sight. They can and will notice, which leads to both good and bad things happening. The few times Rocks Off has been personally forced to cross the barricade and shoot a show ourselves, we have certainly wanted to disappear.

With our second Shot in the Dark coming up tomorrow night -- you can find out all the information you need at this link, and we hope you RSVP to join us -- It got us to thinking about some of the times the photographers whose works you'll see in the show caught the artists' eye. We got the idea for this blog from someone in the show whose subject was determined to heap as much humiliation his or her way as they could. Others' experiences have been much cooler.

Marc Brubaker: I've had numerous pleasant experiences talking with artists at smaller clubs after I've photographed them. People like Tristen, St. Vincent, Jessica Lea Mayfield and recently Justin Townes Earle come to mind, among many others. Unfortunately with the larger acts, you often don't get to converse with the artists. I'd love to get the chance to ask Neko Case why she doesn't allow photography, or talk to some artists about their photo policies.

The only real asshole (no surprise here) has been Danzig, who had henchmen at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010. There were no photos allowed of Danzig (although I snuck one or two for the blog, shh), so no photo pit. About 15 minutes before the set, guys were sent through the crowd to ensure that there were no cameras, and to tell press that they weren't allowed to take photos.

Then four people stood on the barricade, patrolling the crowd and blocking camera views with their hands. We're talking about people's point and shoot cameras, or even their phones, just trying to get a little snapshot. Four guys, roaming the barricade, waving their hands, telling people, "Put the camera/phone away or we'll throw you out." Pathetic.

At least they weren't back for FFF 2011.

Groovehouse: Ben Folds actually mocked me on the night I shot him at House of Blues. I was the only photographer in the pit and during the break for the second song, he reached on top of his piano for something and came back with a roll of duct tape. He took the tape and put it to his eye, then proceeded to "focus" with it and shoot me back! Ben, the crowd and myself all had a good laugh and I got a great shot.

Craig Hlavaty: The only thing that I can think of in my history of shooting shows that stands out is Method Man and Redman pouring water on us photogs back in the day at a show at House of Blues. You can very much see that the lens on my camera had been moistened.

It was a fun show, and I have no hard feelings toward the stars of the fanatastic cinematic wonder that was How High. It's cool, though, Monotonix broke that camera for me a few months later at Numbers. Ha.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray