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Photo Discussion : Nate Ruess

A few weeks back I had the chance to photograph Nate Ruess on his current headlining tour supporting his debut solo album.

      A few weeks back I had the chance to photograph Nate Ruess on his current headlining tour supporting his debut solo album that he released earlier this year. As some of you may know he is the singer of Fun and also was apart of a band called The Format back in the day. The show was fantastic and I had a blast hearing so much of his new material, I can admit it was a breathe of fresh air to cover the show of an artist I really enjoy. Originally I was going to do a formal show review to accompany these photographs but I decided to take a different approach since so much time had passed since the show.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

    Ideally I would have had posted many of these images the day after the show but work was hectic that week and my Adobe Lightroom catalog was quickly swamped with photographs from other gigs that had to take priority. I’m not perfect, working this blog has become only a side gig for me in reality and sometimes it just slips by the wayside when I’m overly busy. That said I’m grateful that my full time employment allows me to continue to grow as a photographer shooting every event we have for the house and giving me access that most people never get (Example : I was the only photographer at Dave Chappelle and took a portrait of him after the show). This is a rare find in a field where it seems that so many photographers struggle for gigs and payments. I’m also grateful for my fellow staff members who have really been helping me maintain Sight of Sound lately, you rock Alex Messick and Nick Karp. Sight of Sound will always be a huge part of what I do as an artist but at the end of the day my Marketing and House Photography job for the Santander Arena and Performing Arts Center takes priority.

     While on the subject of gigs and jobs I have to admit that it certainly is disheartening to see so many fellow talented photographers struggling for a break. I want to use this space to give some advice to all of the talented people out there, be patient and know that it your moment will come in due time. However, it can’t be all sunshine and roses because the cold hard truth is that some photographers just don’t have what it takes. There is no sugar coating that in the end. Rome wasn’t built over night but at the same time you can only make a turd shine so bright. That may not be the most PC breakdown of the photography community but in reality not everyone can be the best, the Olympics doesn’t give a gold metal to every participant and neither does the real world in photography.

     It is a difficult field I know but that doesn’t make it impossible to succeed in. Things will work out if they are meant to and begging publicly across social media accounts for paying gigs won’t help. Think of it from a client’s end of things, would you really want to approach someone like that for a gig? My point is it is extremely important to know your worth as an artist, create solid imagery every night you go out and your name will spread I promise you. This field isn’t that big and word travels quick of talent.

     With concert photography becoming such a competitive field a trend has started where people rush to their phones seconds after taking an image to post it on their favorite social media sources. In doing so their image is out there first but at what cost? What ever happened to the age old saying of quality over quantity? In having time to edit these photos I was able to really make each one of them shine and represent the best moments of the show that evening. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have to kill the quality of my images with a wireless transfer to my phone. I strived really hard to make sure each one of these images were different from the next and my RAW image post processing was certainly a big part of this shoot. For example the shot below is one of my favorites but I wasn’t thrilled with how it came out in camera, by shooting RAW and process with Lightroom I was able to better render the image to represent the reality I saw at the concert.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     A big part of my shooting style is trying to capture the raw emotion of the performer. That being said nothing annoys me more than a photo gallery of 300 images that look identical to the next, photographs should be a source of entertainment and not mindless content. I want to thank everyone with Nate Ruess’ camp as well as Atlantic Records for taking care of me that night, you guys rock. A quick conversation on site made it possible for me to photograph the whole set and I’m very grateful for the trust you had in my work to give me that access. While it did add some pressure I had to be confident I would deliver and not let it stress me out during the shoot.

    Nate Ruess is a VERY passionate performer which gave me a few chances to capture the look I was going after that night. While much of his music is very upbeat he is no stranger to a slow intimate moment during his set and this image I captured during the back half of the set was during one of those moments. You can feel the energy of the performance even in this still image and to me his pose/facial expression mixed with the lighting above is a great visual cue to the fact that this was during a more emotional moment of the set.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

    The Pullo Center was a venue I had never been to prior to this show and it offered a stellar lighting rig complete with an ample usage of haze which made shooting a breeze for me. Can fog be a challenge? Sure it can but with practice it really work in your favor for catching strobes or a light just the right way to create a remarkable image.

     For this show I was working with a wide array of colors that for the most part I decided to fully embrace in post and with some exceptions. A good amount of black and whites images made into the final set just due to the fact that I felt they helped represent the moment better than color could have. I am  the biggest advocate of using what color is handed to the photographer but sometimes you can’t deny that things just work out better in monochrome.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     I’m incredibly proud of the images I captured this evening and happy to finally unleash them into the wild west that is the internet. I hope I didn’t offend too many people with my discussion at the beginning and I hope you all enjoy this gallery of Nate Ruess performing at the Pullo Center :


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