A few people asked how I got started shooting shows and it all kind of happened by accident. My “Specialty” if I had one, was swimwear and model photography. Most of what I shot was local Seattle models in and around the city. I’m not really much of a studio shooter and preferred natural lighting as to controlling the light in a room. So in 2005 I was asked to shoot a show for Alan White, by his wife Gigi who is a friend of my Aunt. Alan is the drummer behind the mega band Yes and John Lennon’s Imagine Album. Alan had recently formed a band, White, that was recording a new album and they needed some images to go on the CD. The show was to benefit the victims of hurricane Katrina and a few other acts were playing including the Clever Bastards and Electric Shades of Blue. It’s funny how a small event like this can set one into a different direction and this was the beginning of my path to shoot live shows.
I remember the venue not having the best lighting and wanting to keep a live show look to the images, I didn’t use flash. Also in the band was keyboardist Geoff Downes, who played in the Buggles and Asia. The Buggles whose video, Video Killed the Radio Star, was the first video played on MTV. They worked through their set list and I was pretty happy with the images based on chimping my camera.
I decided to go to the bar to have a beer after shooting and heard the next band that was just rocking the place. Their guitarist was incredible and they had a really cool sound that really grabbed my attention. I grabbed my camera and decided to shoot these guys as well. They were the Clever Bastards, fronted by Brit Mike Curley, one of the most gifted songwriters I have ever heard. On guitars was Roger Fisher and Rick Knotts, with Mike DeRosier on drums and Lynn Sorensen on bass.
After the show I handed Roger my business card and said I had some photos to share and if wanted any he could contact me. Throughout our conversation I soon learned that he was the founding guitarist of Heart and Mike Derosier was the former drummer. Now growing up in Seattle, Heart was huge and all over the map in that city and the U.S. as well. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “these are the guys I grew up listening too and it was great to meet them”. I flashed back to the show I attended at the Coliseum in Seattle in the late seventies, five rows back from the stage, Rog right in front of me playing Crazy on You.
I also met Rick Knotts that night, who is guitarist for Seattle based Rail. Rail toured with Van Halen in 1980, opening for 47 shows in their support of “Women and Children First”. in 1983 Rail beat out 40,000 videos submitted worldwide to MTV for their basement tapes contest. Their song “Hello” won the preliminary rounds and eventually the Grand Prize of a recording contract with EMI Records. Rick and I have since become good friends sharing good conversations about life and the music business.
Eventually I developed the close friendship I have now with Roger and and his Brother Michael Fisher, the man behind the Heart song Magic Man. I started shooting more of Roger’s shows and this led me to meeting many of the musicians that came out to support him. Always willing to lend a hand when Rog required a shooter or called and said “Hey Ter, can you run some video for us” or whatever else might be needed.
I then started attending more shows with my camera on my shoulder. Always striving to develop my own style, but also looking to the iconic images the legendary Jim Marshall shot. I also knew in order for me to look good, I needed to make sure the artists looked good as well. Seattle not only has a great talent pool of musicians and bands, but there are a ton of photographers shooting the shows. The competition can leave you in the dust and if you can’t measure up, you’re not gonna be one of the handful of go-to-guys to make the cut. Soon I developed friendships with shooters I admired, sharing technical info and even swapping lenses and flashes. I don’t look at them as competition, but as teachers I can learn from.
So fast forward to today, I can look back to that one show and I’m amazed at how it was a catalyst on my photographic journey. I have met hundreds of great people, all talented and sharing their talent of music and photography. Though I’ve yet to shoot the big arena shows, I know that it’s just a matter of time to pay my dues and hone my craft. I guess the lesson here is, if you are a photographer, look at each door that opens as an opportunity to grow and you never know where that one moment might take you.
Note: Check out Roger Deans website, the artist behind the cover to the White album. My images are the ones shot on the right, these were used on the inner liner, underneath the CD. Quite the honor to have my photos next to Roger Dean’s art.
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