Photo Pop 2012 Preview: Randy Cremean @ Red 7 (11.9)

We’re only a day away from the exciting art show, Photo Pop 2012, so here’s another one of the great photographers that will be on hand: Randy Cremean.  Randy’s one of the great men behind Soundcheck Magazine, covering music all over the country, but always representing Austin.  Here’s a little about the man, the myth, the legend.

ATH: What started your career as a music photographer?

RC: I fell deeply, madly in love with a local band. They made me want to be part of what they were doing, so I dusted off my old Minolta film camera and started taking pictures at their shows. Three years later, I was their tour manager/web master/photographer/responsible adult and they were touring the nation, playing famous venues and major music festivals. I went with them, took a lot of photos. The rest, as they say, is history.

ATH: What camera/lens do you use or prefer to use?

RC: My primary camera is the Canon 1D Mark IV. I use a Canon 1D Mark III as my secondary. At festivals and large venues, I use a combination of the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens and the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L. When the light is lacking, which it usually is at small venues, I use a Canon 35mm f/1.4 as my primary lens.

ATH: If you had to pick one band to shoot over and over, based on past experience, who would it be?

RC: Arcade Fire from their 2005-2006 tour in support of Funeral.

ATH: How do you go about shooting a show? Do you just aim for shots of the lead singer, drummer or what? Anything else you do? Do you try to tell a story?

RC: I usually research a band by watching YouTube clips of their concerts and checking out photos of their current tour. Getting great shots is about being in the right place at the right time and being ready to take the picture. Having a plan eliminates some of the randomness in that process.

I try to take a variety of wide and tight shots to capture the essence of the performance. It’s all well and good to be egalitarian and try to give equal time to each band member, but the key performers in the band are who people want to see and they are usually going to have the best lighting on them. Photographers are like moths in that we flock to the light. If the bass player is hiding in a dark corner, I don’t feel bad about ignoring him.

ATH: In your opinion, what’s the difference between using an iPhone and shooting photos as a career?

RC: Watch the hands of a professional concert photographer while we are shooting. Adjustments are constantly being made on the fly to camera settings as the lighting changes. We’ve chosen our equipment for its ability to freeze the action when there’s little to no light. We are highly specialized and highly skilled. Put your phone down, enjoy the show, and check out our photos the next morning.

ATH: How do you feel about apps like Instagram, etc?

RC: For the most part, Instagram filters are used in an effort to give value to boring, blurry, or poorly composed images. I do like the ability to instantly share a photo.

ATH: What has been the hardest show you’ve ever shot, or weirdest?

RC: Gogol Bordello at Emo’s outside stage during SXSW 2006. It was St. Patrick’s day. Everyone in the crowd was hammered and there was, of course, no photo pit. I was set up right in front of lead singer, Eugene Hütz. People were trying to climb over me to get to him. Every time the massive crowd surged forward, I was pinned against the stage by what felt like several tons of weight. I had a bruise running across my sternum the next morning. During one of those surges, I put my hand on the stage just as Eugene was slamming down the mic stand after holding it over his head. The base crushed my pinky finger, splitting the nail in half. I spent the rest of the show trying not to get blood on my lens. I also had a rather large crowdsurfing girl dropped on my head. So there’s that.

ATH: How do you feel about the much accepted rule of only shooting the first three songs? Smart move?

RC: It’s a smart move now that there are so many photographers at any given show. The people who waited in line to get spots on the rail deserve to see the show they paid for. The more savvy artists, who put a lot of thought into their set lists and productions, will let us shoot more than three songs or a set of songs later in the show. I’d like to see more of that.

ATH:  What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young photographer just getting their feet wet?

RC: I’ve got two pieces of advice. (1) Learn the ropes at small clubs with local bands. I’m seeing too many new photographers who somehow wrangle their way into pits at major shows and proceed to be a hindrance to the other photographers around them. (2) Don’t do this for the money.

Be sure to show up at Red 7 between 7-9 to see the work of Randy and his friends…and stay for some good old fashioned Austin rock n’ roll.

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