If you’re like me, you’ve probably lived your whole life thinking there was a little man who lived inside your stereo and woke up every time you turned it on. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited when Pops Rizzo & The Bra-jole Brothers invited me along for their appearance on Gotham Radio’s “Neir’s Music Spotlight” with host Chris Piccione.
So the band, Chris and I slipped into the tiny little studio when the show is recorded for an hour of some great conversation with the band, some tacks off the CD and a great live rendition of “The Rumba Song”. I happily let them do their thing as I tried to silently document the event (I’m hoping my shutter sounds don’t come out on the final take, LOL).
Afterwards the we ducked back into Neirs Tavern next door where their weekly Poetry Slam was going on. Even though the music didn’t fit the Poetry Slam theme, the organizers were kind enough to let the guys go on for a few tunes and instantly they had a bar full of new fans.
The broadcast will be on GothamRadio.com this Tuesday, March 6th from 8-9pm and again on Friday March 9th from 11am-12pm. After that I’m hoping it’ll be up on the their archives. If you can, try to listen in, the band sounds great, and they gave me a huge and unexpected plug on air.
And don’t forget… Pops Rizzo and the Bra-jole Brothers are playing Saturday March 10th at Neirs, so come down for some great tunes, cold beers and some magical moments.
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
Sometimes all it takes is a few light bulbs to make some memorable images.
Of course removing the glass from the bulb without breaking the filament was the tricky part, but once that was accomplished, all it took was getting the right exposure and focus. The flame and smoke did the rest of the work.
Saturday night at The Place in Brooklyn with The Freight rockin’ the joint isn’t a bad way to spend an evening.
The Freight is a tight four piece comprised of veterans of the Brooklyn music scene. The band sounded great … and not just because Kim was running the soundboard. Joey Reirdon sets the beat with his expert chops.I’ve been a fan, and a friend of Joe for a long time, watching him in awe back in the day when he played with Flying Blind and The South Side Boogie Band. To this day, Joe on the list of my top ten drummers. Holding down the bottom end is Bill Harvey, pushing his four strings along to create that fat layer that guitarist Michael Barron can work off of. Mike coaxes the perfect tones from his rig and it’s the vocals of Kevin Lay that seals the deal. Kevin’s deep bass voice coats each song, making them charge through the air …well like a freight train.
Keep your eyes peeled for their next stop…
See more shots from the night here
See more shots from the night here
Actually, I don’t really. Every year Kim is amazed how I can sit by and not even notice the 3000+ lbs of Halloween candy that the kids bring home… maybe that’s why we had so much around the house.
Seriously though, today was another Sunday afternoon that really wasn’t about the subject matter. Friend, and photographer extraordinaire Jeff Stubblefield has been being a lot of work and producing amazing results with his home-made light box. So I figured I’d steal the idea, make my own and see what came out of it. I set everything up using a big cardboard box, some sheets of banner paper and my SB-900s.
So I spent some time lost in lighting and aperture settings, another training day. Some pretty sweet still life huh?
A few more shots can be seen here… on my Grasp The Moment Photography Facebook page
My first visit to the Brooklyn Bowl was to see a killer band that brings it hard, none other than Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. Truth be told I was looking for a night off, so I left the camera at home and Kim & I just enjoyed a night of great music with great friends. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor ordered.
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds is a powerhouse. Drummer Bram Kincheloe and Aidan Carroll on bass lay down a solid groove foundation which Sasha Brown masterfully weaves his guitar work through. Jackson Kincheloe steps out blowing his harmonica and sets the room on fire. he blows those magic notes which dance through your ears but it’s the solid wall of horns that gets your ass up and moving. JJ Byars, Phil Rodriguez, Ryan Snow and Johnny Butler are a horn section to be reckoned with. Either together in tight delicious blend, or stepping out for a solo spot, these four guys blow their hearts into every note. Dancing through this already tight soundscape is Arleigh Kincheloe, who’s got the vocal inflections and style of an all time great blues mistress. She mastered the fine art of delivery her lyrics with the needed punch, but also knowing when to side step and let the raging freight train around her roar down the track. Together they’re a complete package of funk that guarantees a good time.
I did shoot the band the last time I caught them when I was working the Rock n Roll Resort in April. So crank up some funky tunes here and enjoy some shots… and don’t forget to pre-order their new CD!
How many of us know where we will be in 50 years? I doubt any of us, least of all me. Maybe Mary and Frank didn’t know the details, but something tells me that when they exchanged vows a half a century ago, they knew they’d still be together. So we were thrilled when they asked us to be a part of their magical night, a Fiftieth Wedding Celebration filled with family and friends. Their original wedding was a simple one so Frank pulled out all the stops for his bride, and the night was elegant in every way, thanks in part to our great friend Gary the DJ who kept the crowd on their feet.
Here’s to another 50, you two lovebirds…
Below is an interview I took part in with Colin Butterworth of the “Just Takin’ Pictures” group on Facebook…” Usually I’m the one doing the interviews, but this month the tables were turned and it was my turn in the hot seat…
A conversation with Brian Walter
By Colin Butterworth in Just Takin’ Pictures
We have a treat this month. Instead of Brian interviewing one of us, I have interviewed Brian. I couldn’t pass up the chance to return to New York to do the interview.
I had the great pleasure to meet Brian in 2010 when my wife and I visited New York. Brian was so gracious to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in Manhattan. Not only that, he gave us some amazing insights into New York. I think this shows what a great person Brian is and I am thrilled to call him a friend.
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the man, the legend, Brian Walter.
1. Standard question, what is in your camera bag? What equipment and programs do you use? Also, if you could add one thing to your camera bag, what would it be?
I’m very happy to say the bag is getting pretty full. I’ve got two bodies, the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D7000. My glass collection is growing, with a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, a Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR DX, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and the newest, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM. I’ve got two SB900s and wireless transmitters, no name, I’m still saving up for Pocket Wizards. Ive got an awesome set of macro filters which I got for $20.00 off EBAY. Oh, and safety pins, a flashlight, tie wraps and tons of other little nic-naks.
Being a nerd, I custom built my PC to suit my photography. Its powered by a 2.9ghz quad core and 4 gig of RAM. I have a dedicated 2.0 Tb drive for my photography work, which is backed up on a 2.0 TB external. I’ve also got a 120BG hard drive that is a dedicated scratch disc for Photoshop and my RAW file cache. I’d be a mess without Adobe LightRoom, it’s the center of my photo-editing world. That’s augmented with Adobe Photoshop, but every since the release of LightRoom 3.x, I find myself using PS less and less.
If I could add one thing????? OMG, how could I choose??? Well, I guess what I find myself dreaming mostly about these days is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S ED.
2. Most people have different stories behind why they take photos, what is your story? What lead you to photography?
I guess you can say it runs in the family. My grandfather was a photographer, and my mother was too. I grew up with her always taking photos of us.
The biggest factor in myself turning to photography was when I discovred that through it. I finally had something to share. I could never play an instrument, or sing, which really was fine with me since never liked the spotlight much anyway, but I discovered that by staying in the shadows, camera in hand, I could capture what was going on Afterwards, when the music had faded and the equipment was packed up, it was my images that brought people back to that moment. Recently when I was working with a bride getting ready I heard her squeal with delight and say to her bridemaids “He’s photographing my shoes!!!” and she was so happy I was paying attention to the little things.
3. You brought this group together when you created “Just Takin’ Pictures”. What motivated you to create the group?
I am a knowledge junkie. I love picking people’s brains and learning all I can. I feel that everyone has something to contribute, from the beginner to the most seasoned pro. I also learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. Whether it’s the use of light, or the way subjects are posed in a frame, I study other people’s work, and find ways to apply it to my own. I feel it’s the best way to grow. Even if I don’t comment, I look at every image that gets posted not only in the group, but on everyone’s pages. I’ve spent twenty minutes sometimes pouring over every detail. In your case for example, I doubt I’m ever going to be in the locations you’ve been, and see the sights you see, but I am always studying your expertise in composition and it flashes through my head when I look through my own lens.
4. Each month you have presented these wonderful interviews, of our fellow group members, with insightful and thoughtful questions. Is this your natural talent shining through as a journalist, or have you had some training?
Oh no way, I’m no Edward Morrow, I just like to talk. (Before I go on, I want to point out that this idea was borrowed from a photo forum I was on. I loved the idea, but felt it was never used to it’s full potential.) As I said I’m a knowledge junkie and I’ve discovered over the years – mostly in talking to musicians – that artists usually don’t know how to put an answer into words. However if you approach it from a round about way, you’ll get a lot more insight into it. Instead of finding out why someone did one thing, find out what makes them tick and you’ll get a much clearer picture. There is so much talent in our group, and everyone deserves to be in the spotlight, it’s just my pleasure to help with that.
5. What is your favourite and least favourite thing to photography? Also, if you could photography anything in the world, what would you take a photo of?
My favorite thing to photography? Life. I did the flowers and trees and gravestones thing for a very long time and I’ve grown bored with it. These days I love seeing the joy and excitement of life reflected in some one’s eye. The passion a musician gives his art, the smile of a happy couple, the laughter of a child. Of course, it goes without saying that above all else, seeing my kids and my family happy and laughing as I take the shot is the best thing in the world. My least favorite thing? I don’t know if I could point a specific thing, but more like specific situations. It’s that client who won’t co-operate. It’s when my kids are in that mood and won’t smile, or at least feign interest. And worst of all, it’s when the god damn stage lights aren’t where I need them to be, there’s too much smoke and the freaking mic stands are in the way!
If I could give up all responsibilities? Photograph whatever I wanted??? Well, See you guys later, I’m going on tour. Don’t even care with who, I’m just hitting the big stage, sneaking in the shadows at the Hollywood Bowl or the Royal Albert Hall waiting for “that moment”
6. You have a wonderful family who obviously mean a lot to you. How has/does your family affect your photography?
Wonderful doesn’t cut it, I’ve got the best family in the world and I can see it reflected in every photo I take. The love and inspiration they give me what keeps me going. My two sons, and Kim’s son as well, are my source of joy and relaxation when I’m not working. They keep me young at heart and remind that the simplest things in life can make you the happiest.
On top of that I’ve got the love of a fantastic woman who is just what I need in life. She laughs at my crazy, creative ideas, and then immediately starts working with me trying to them into reality. She’s also my business partner, and she handles the stuff I can’t even begin to deal with. Between sessions she’s handling prices, advertising, and booking the next session. Once we get to the session she handles everything from setting up the next shot (which is mandatory for large weddings) to fusing with dresses, fixing ties, and giving out corsages. I’m serious when I say I have no idea how I could try to do anything without her. Without her, Grasp The Moment Photography would still be an idea in my head.
7. I personally think you live in the greatest city I have ever visited! I found there were endless photo opportunities there during my brief visit. Do you ever find yourself struggling for subject matter of lacking inspiration to take photos in New York?
Yes, NYC, being the capital of the planet, is always full of things to see and do. I don’t live in the middle of the hustle and bustle, though. My neighborhood is a quiet one, with lots of trees and no skyscrapers. With that being said, being a photographer in NYC sometimes presents more problems than it solves. For starters, the competition is fierce. There are over 8 million people in the five boros, and almost as many digital cameras. Everything is big in NYC and weddings are no exception. Seeing that I’m still just starting out, I’m nowhere near ready to break into the market in my own hometown. Space is also an issue, living in a second floor apartment mean there’s hardly any room for us, forget considering a home studio.
8. Inspiration can come in many guises, artists, works of art, people, family etc. and not only one thing can inspire us to take photos. From where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
I find the best inspiration comes from being confident in yourself, your abilities and being lost in te moment. Worrying about details, and anything else except for what you’re doing, turns photography an arduous chore. That’s why I think learning about your gear, and how it works, is such a vital part of the process. I find most photographers want to hurry up and get over with the basics, but when your equipment can become an extension of yourself, and you can command it and make it do what you want, when you want, you will find yourself in a zone where the images just begin to flow.
9. You have been active in taking concert photos in recent times and you are also branching out to weddings and other photography sessions. You are also a certified professional. Where would you like your photography to take you in the future? Do you think it could be a viable career?
I don’t know about a full time career, at least for now. I’ve got too many financial responsibilities and obligations to jump in feet first and quit my day job. I wouldn’t mind picking up some more weddings – we already have some book for the summer of 2012 – and some more session work. But I’ll always be true to my love of concert photography, and I’m sure you’ll still see me on the side of a stage, camera in hand.
10. We have unfortunately come to my final question. As we touched on in my interview I had the privilege to travel around the world on my honeymoon which was a trip of a lifetime. If you had the chance to travel around the world what locations would you like to visit and capture through your lens?
Well it’s no secret that I left my heart in San Francisco. I was there last summer and fell in love with the town a million times over. I could very easily see myself living on the west coast, driving through the amazing beaches, mountains and deserts of California, taking it all in, and seeing what other moments I could grasp.
Now Brian, please select three of your images you’d like to share with us…
Only three photos to share???
Ok … first is this one
This one from my latest wedding. It was done after
the ceremony as we were doing family shots. The sun was setting, and I was worrying about loosing the natural light for all the family shots I did. As Kim ran around getting “who is in this photo” and “who is in the next one.” I kept one eye on that sun. Thankfully it worked and I got everything I needed to get in. As we were wrapping up, I looked at the sun again and suddenly saw it differently. I quickly grabbed the bride and groom and positioned them with the golden rays of the sun behind them. I don’t even think I told them to kiss, they were just that much in love. Why this photo represents to me, is an accomplishment on my part, because it was more than a “happy accident” I knew what I wanted it to look like and I what I needed to do to get that result.
Next I had to go back to my love of music…
One of those moments when the lights hit just right, the mic stand wasn’t in the way, everything lined up. Everyone else on stage seemed to move just out of the shot, and I took it. It just so happened to be Johnny Grubb’s last east coast show, which makes the shot even that much more special.
My crazy guys. There are no fake smiles in this shot, no forced expression, just pure goofiness, which is where my boys are the happiest. Being crazy, loving life, and enjoying our time together. Its photos like this that just keep me looking for the next shot.
Wow it’s been a busy month. August barreled through my life like a runaway freight train. An amazing Camp Creek kicked things off (… and don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail soon…) followed by a great family vacation. That got clipped a bit by Hurricane Irene which pounded NYC with lots of rain but left us safe. The area around us suffered harder blows and there’s thousands still dealing with it. My heart goes out to all of them. I pulled a 40 hour shift at work, and was thankful afterwards that Kim and my family were safe at home. Though it seemed that once the clouds parted it was time to get ready for the next big thing on the Grasp The Moment calender – the wedding of dear friends Ryan and Sheri.
However, in the midst of all that, I was lucky enough to catch up with Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros.
Now if you don’t know the smooth sounds of Pops & the boys by now, then you’ve got a serious problem. Throw some swing, jazz, and groove into a pot and mix it with a serious helping of Brooklyn attitude and you’re getting close. “Pops” Mike Rizzo keeps the beat, playing the skins the same way he’s done all his life, with a style and flare that makes kids a fraction of his age jealous. Laying down the groove is the incredible Simon Walsh, playing the bass with an unbelievable combination of flair and musical prowess. Rob Rizzo adds the vocals and the groovy swing of his six string churning out solos and fills that keeps the corwd calling out for more.
These guys are the tops. I’ve seen a lot of music in my day, and Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros can move the crowd, get asses shaking and feet shuffling better than most of the bands headlining big clubs. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to work with these guys. We met up at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, a bar that’s been there and serving thirsty New Yorkers since 1829. We stole a corner of the bar and Pops & the boys settled down just being them. No instruments, no playing around, no showing off, just them being them.
Oh … and they’re playing back at Neir’s Tavern on September 24th … ya better be there if you know what’s good for you.
Even hard rockers have to look good right? Well the guys in O.M.F. thought so. If you’re not in the loop, O.M.F. or Ol Mofo’s is the Brooklyn based hard rock trio made up of Hank Dunne, Danny Lugo and Joe Cos. These guys have been rocking for years in different projects and now that they’ve finally come together, the result is nothing short of explosive. Danny is a master of the bottom end and keeps the groove moving as Joe lays down the beat. Hank’s guitar roars through it all. They crank out some great original tunes written by Hank & Joe.
I met them at their weekly rehearsal at Dragonheart Studios in Greenpoint. The place was quite a location. Inside an old warehouse complex, the place was full of amazing locations where I could spend hours shooting. The textures of the cobblestones, terraces, stairways and old exposed brick was a rock photographer’s dream come true. The guys and I ran through a few shots before they got down to the business at hand and began rehearsing their latest tunes. They’re working on an album, and getting ready to storm out of the rehearsal room and onto a stage near you.
Check them out on their reverb nation page … here…
I’m all ready for Camp Creek.
The first time I went to camp, I tossed some beers into a cooler, and headed off to upstate New York. In a few days I’m packing the car with my D90, my D7000, an armada of lenses, lots of blank SD cards, batteries, and lots of bottled water. Then it’s off to Maine. Another show I’ll be seeing through my lens.
It was music that first pushed me into photography. I’ve been around music since I was a teen, working in the studio, schlubbing gear for any band in Queens that would either pay me or give me free beers. All that time, I sat around, unable to participate because to be honest, I can’t even play a radio. So what could I do? Well I figured it out once I got a camera into my hands.
The first show I brought my DLSR – the old Nikon D40 – to was an Earth Day show in NYC. I got there as Jon Anderson of Yes was finishing up his set. Between the NYC lunch time crowd and the people who were there to see the seventies prog-rock icon, I couldn’t get close to the stage. By the time Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams hit the stage though, I was front and center. I shot, even though I quite frankly had no idea what the heck I was doing.
I wandered around during set break, and stumbled upon what was more or less backstage. It was there, as I was hanging out, trying to act like I belonged, that I watched Grace Potter walk up with her band. I’ll never forget the fact that Grace was helping the guitar and carrying some of his gear. I got to say a few words to Grace before I found another place in front of the stage, and she was as polite as she is beautiful.
I’ve got a much better understand of shooting concerts now, I can’t even count how many of them I’ve done, especially Max Creek. The photos I shot that day are rough – over exposed, poorly framed and with no personality. I like to think I’ve gotten better but it’s interesting sometimes to look back at old memories.
By this time next week, it’ll be over, I’ll be home, and I’ll have lots new memories