Assignment: Philadelphia Funk Authority

The Gig

Earlier this Summer I received an email from Gary at Authority Entertainment which handles Philadelphia Funk Authority (phillyfunk.com) asking if I would be interested in shooting group shots and concert stills of the band at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA. (Is it inappropriate to respond “duh” to a potential client?) PFA is a super fun party/event/concert band and a great bunch of musicians. Of course I’m jumping at the chance to work with them.

I have had a relationship with PFA through my friend George Hrab, the band’s drummer,
for quite a few years. Over those years I’ve photographed the band at Musikfest,

had the privilege to hang out with members of the band (we even watched humans put a lander on Mars together)

and hired them to play my 50th birthday party. You can see the results

People danced!

Scheduling

The band has gone through some changes in the last year necessitating the new pictures. Not the least of which is the loss of singer Alisa B Anderson to cancer. The new line up should be featured in their promotional materials and website. The job called for a new group shot of the whole band as well as images of them in action. I had originally planned to shoot all this on the first Sunday of Musikfest, when the band plays in the big Festplatz Tent to more than a thousand people. This worked well for me, since I planned on being there anyway and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday in Maryland. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the best option for the band, so we negotiated to shoot at the Musikfest Cafe Friday night for their 10pm concert.

So, the weekend would be:

  • Drive up to Bethlehem on Friday
  • Drive back to Maryland sometime on Saturday morning (1am or after a nap)
  • Drive up to the wedding about an hour from home on Saturday
  • Drive back to Bethlehem on Sunday as planned
  • Drive home again on Monday

The Weekend

Friday arrived and I arrived up in Bethlehem around 4:30 in the afternoon. I caught up with George at his place to discuss the plan. While Gary is technically the “owner” of the band and handles the bookings, George handles much of the day-to-day leadership activities. The plan is to shoot a group photo in the “green room” and then out on the floor at their show Friday night I would grab some shots of the band in front of an audience.

I leave George to his pre-show ritual (whatever that is) and head out into Musikfest to grab some food and meet up with my friend Todd. A gyro, roasted corn and baked beans later, I’m heading off to meet George and over to the venue.

Group Shots

The green room at the venue was broken up into a couple of rooms. Two of them were bathrooms. No good. One has a TV, fridge, tables, doors and one wall. No good. Another is a tiny dressing room. No good. So, we were left with a lounge that’s pretty small. Just enough room for me to get the group shot with a 24-70 on a tripod jammed into the corner.

I’m not done with the group shots at this time, but I’ll share a setup shot with George and an Easter egg or two

I was pretty happy with the lighting on this test. Good fill and pretty soft using the Godox AD360IIN and Phottix Mitros bounced high off the wall to camera left to counter the recessed cans in the ceiling. You’ll just have to wait to see what image we choose and how it gets processed.

Concert Photography

I was pretty daunted by the lighting in the concert hall. To say it was a little backlit is something of an understatement.

Definitely cool for the audience, but a bit challenging for the photographer in the crowd. My goal was to get a few decent shots of the new(er) members of the band and get more shots at the well-lit stage at their show on Sunday.

Here’s the wonderful Raysa Michelle who worked really well with the veteran Jillian Rhys

, Matt Asti who has a deceptively chill demeanor onstage, but he’s a monster on the keyboard

and Neil Wetzel who holds up the sax end of the Authority Horns with… um… authority.

I’m still editing shots, so that’s it for now. It was a great weekend and beyond fulfilling my contractual obligations I really enjoyed spending time with the band and making some new friends.

Thanks, again, to PFA for the opportunity to work with them. Like the rest of their fans I can’t wait until the next time.

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The Amazing Meeting 6 (Next year, for sure!)

I was unable, again, to attend the James Randi Educational Foundation’s , The Amazing Meeting (TAM) in Las Vegas. It conflicted with the trip to Costa Rica. Which was awesome and more important to my marriage.

Nonetheless, with the help of some of my favorite podcasters, I’ve been able to experience some of the better moments.

This was George Hrab‘s first year at TAM, and he was on the bill! It’s worth listening to his post-tam episode, just to hear what someone sounds like when they get what they always wanted.

Skepticality is running a series of episodes featuring interviews from TAM 6. The first two interviews, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Adam Savage from The Mythbusters.

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, recorded a live episode at TAM and will be incorporating interviews from the meeting into future episodes.

The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, has blogged of the event and included a cool video.

Soccergirl episode #286 and #287 has some great video footage from TAM 6.

These are only the ones I’ve managed to get to since I’ve been back from travel. I’m sure there’s more great coverage out there I haven’t found yet!

But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?
H. P. Lovecraft

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Every opportunity

I really wanted to head down to D.C. and catch George Hrab‘s show at the Hawk&Dove, for the Center For Inquiry, this evening. Geo doesn’t get this close that often and it would have been fun to see the show he’s going to be doing at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas later this month.

Tonight was also my daughter’s 8th grade program and dance. Next year, she will be in high school and this is a pretty big transition for her.

Her Middle School career has been something special with great friends and a huge change from kid to young woman. It was not a question of missing this event, ever. I really try to take every opportunity to be with my kids for important (and not so important) events.  Really I think it’s the nameless times making each other laugh that we’ll remember the most.

I wanted to do both.

I pretty quickly realized, once I was seated in the auditorium, D.C. was not going to be an option. A quick sigh and I was committed to the moment. I have found that everything is more enjoyable when you are not focused on where you could be, but where you are.

I missed Geo’s show, there will be others. My daughter will have more moments like this, but I may not get to share them.

Allie and friends

Totally worth it, don’t you think?

“I’ve met many people in my time. Liked many. Loved a few. Only my children are the air I breath.”

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