Photo-subjective: The drama with drummers
A photographer’s blog – phlog? – containing observations, tips & tricks & hacks or just some random stuff concerning the art of ”capturing a moment in life”. Or something like that.
Drummers – those secretive creatures who mostly creep on stage silently when everything is still covered in darkness, just to hide behind this array of drum gear-bits-and-pieces, and very often they have to start their work already while the other band members enjoy brightest limelight and cheering, just for walking on stage or tuning guitars.
Drummers, for some inexplicable reason the target of jokes and pranks, perhaps even more than bass players. Because they need a lot of time setting up and taking down their gear, and for sound checks, and they always have equipment problems (sticks, drumheads)? Difficult to say, but it seems that those who deliver the pulse of every song, who are the heartbeat of the band, are always pushed into the background. Literally. Or do they retreat to the offside voluntarily?
(Well, there are exceptions like Tommy Lee who combines roller coaster joyrides with drumming, or Alfahanne’s Niklas …
… after such fiery walk-on you definitely wanna keep a certain distance …)
Are drummers rather shy by nature – the very opposite to those extrovert front-people – social outcasts, lone wolves who prefer to stay in their own little realm and have their biting reflexes triggered when approached from the outside (band colleagues, fans) or even worse, someone dares to touch their gear?
The drum rack fencing off the outside world?
A drummer’s friendly smile – a sheer misinterpretation of a threatening snarl?
Or do they become like that when they begin taking drum lessons?
Maybe this question is better solved by scientists, here it’s about taking photos of drummers at concerts.
And it is no coincidence that this particular fringe group hardly attracts the photo artists, because despite your best attempts, the result will most likely look like this:
Can you see who this is, or which band? Well, me neither.
When you are a bit luckier, you might get something like the main post picture (Jaska, Children Of Bodom).
In my first PHLOG I had mentioned sniper skills, and in the case of drummers you need to develop your hunter-gatherer instincts more into the ”gatherer” direction. Because you require the expert eye of those who roam the woods for mushrooms or berries – in the wilderness of drum-gear, you might spot a nose-tip here, an ear-lobe there… and then make it a target of your shot.
(Anybody out there? Mayhem)
As if further obstacles like huge hair, beard, bad lighting or fog effects – and believe it or not, drummers actually MOVE sometimes, even those of slooooow Doom-Rock acts – were not enough, your own equipment might auto-focus onto the wrong target…
(Great pic for instrument-maker advertising: Thunderstone)
… or the angle / composition seems a bit odd
(at the cannibal restaurant: one drummer-head, please. Stam1na)
Or you get to see something you cannot possibly publish…
Therefore you need a lot of patience and a good portion of luck, because even at festivals it is rare to have unobstructed view of the drummer and a chance to get shots like these
(Block Buster, Amorphis, Trivium)
So, then, how to capture a drummer?
In order to catch something like a whole sequence of Atte Palokangas’ drum-stick trick, you need to spend many years carefully observing a particular subject, then a LOT of patience and you better put your camera on rapid-sequence-multiple-shot (average ratio – 500 failed attempts might produce one good shot).
Otherwise, the best way to capture the drumming folk, you need to WAYLAY, to lie in wait where / when those shy creatures feel safe and unwatched, namely after the show when they pack their gear …
(Juuso, Swallow the Sun)
… or in an AMBUSH BACKSTAGE – this is the only way to get a decent photo of a drummer!