Celebration Dinner is Over Now the Work of Ministry Begins

Celebration Dinner at CUMC

Celebration Dinner at CUMC

Celebration Dinner at CUMC

Celebration Dinner at CUMC

If you have been reading my blog at all you know our church had a huge celebration for 2008 last night called Celebration Dinner.  It was a fantastic evening of looking back and also ahead to 2009.  One of the highlights of the night to me was when the band did a great version of Coldplay’s Fix You.  Below you will see some photos of the band and b/ (the worship leader) playing Fix You.  To see the entire Celebration Dinner gallery click here.

I have been waiting for months to get some good images of the worship leader, Brian, and tonight I finally got what I was looking for, not to mention having an incredible time of worship and fellowship with the rest of the church.  I am really looking forward to this coming year and what God has in store for this church.

Jacob Blount Debuts at Eighth and Rail in Opelika :: Photos

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

Jacob Blount Opens at Eighth and Rail

This past Saturday I did a live performance photo shoot with Jacob Blount at Eighth & Rail in Opelika Alabama.  This was Jacob’s debut performance and he combined it with an art show and an all around creative evening time.  A local artist, RC, hung painting, drawings, and photographic prints and dubbed the night “drink-n-draw”.  Each table was supplied with a sketch pad (most of which had a few pages of completed sketches from RC) and guests were asked to draw or sketch as they listened to the music from Blount.

It was interesting to hang around with so many creative and talented people and I enjoyed the evening very much.  Several of Jacob’s friends and family came for the opening and it was nice to see so many people there in support of Jak but even if you just walked in not knowing anything about the plans for the night you would have enjoyed a great performance from a local band.  Below are some of my favorites from the night (click the link at the bottom to see all 6 in this blog post).  To see the entire shoot visit the Jacob Blount gallery.  (To see all 6 images in this blog post just click the continue reading link below.)

Something I really enjoy about live performance photography is that it is always a challenge.  The lighting is always bad changing and you never know what to expect (although it was pretty good Saturday thanks to Dan King), plus you can’t really get any predetermined compositions or portraits.  Even the lighting and the sound in the same venue can vary greatly from day to day, but as I told someone recently, 80% of photography is “showing up”.  I was certainly glad I showed up on Saturday.

Jak is still working on a website and myspace page but if you would like to check out some of his music you can bookmark these pages jaknoise and http://www.myspace.com/jaknoise, thanks for a great night Jak.

Coming Up

I still have a few edits left from this past weekend.  One, the Spurlock family, is next on the list and then I have a series of posts from the Catalyst Conference which will include an incredible act of worship with worship painting from Caitlin Beidler from Redemption Art and live performance photos from Aaron Keyes, Franklin Graham with Samaritan’s Purse, Jeff Foxworthy, and several others from Catalyst08.

Martha's Trouble Live at Eighth and Rail in Opelika :: Photos

Martha's Trouble at Eighth and Rail

Martha's Trouble at Eighth and Rail

Martha's Trouble at Eighth and Rail

Martha's Trouble at Eighth and Rail

Martha's Trouble at Eighth and Rail

Last Friday I had a chance to shoot for a band at Eighth and Rail in Opelika called Martha’s Trouble.  What a great night of music it was last week.  Over the last several months I have had a chance to shoot for several different bands.  Each one is different but I have really enjoyed getting to know the different band members at each venue, and Rob and Jen are no different, it was great to get to hand with the band a little this weekend.  Be sure to check out their website and the new CD’s coming out for Christmas.  Below are a few of my pics from the shoot.  You can also see the Martha’s Trouble Gallery to see the full shoot of the live performance.

Photos with Super Wide Angle 14mm Lens and a Guitar

CUMC Worship Band

CUMC Worship Band

CUMC Worship Band

CUMC Worship Band

CUMC Worship Band

Here are a few shots of the Cornerstone Band.  I was testing out a 14mm lens tonight along with a 105mm macro lens and took these shots.  Thanks Patrick for letting me get up in your face to take some of these shots.  The acoustic guitar is my friend’s, b/ (Worship Leader at Cornerstone, also pictured at the bottom), who is speaking at Encounter tomorrow night on the Auburn University campus, so don’t miss that at 8:30 at the student activities building if you are in town.

Drum Set from a 12mm Wide Angle Lens at Floor Level

Band Practice for Sunday Worship

Band Practice for Sunday Worship

Last night I had dinner with some friends and stuck around to listen to the band practice for Sunday morning.  It is so nice to spend a little bit of time with people who are passionate about what they do (like b/, Josh and several others), because it’s contagious.   If you have ever been around someone who is passionate about what they do, you will notice that it wears off on everyone around them.  The same as negativity produces negative people, so it goes with passion and positive people.

As a photographer I think you really find the look or the shot you have been looking for all along when you think you have exhausted all possible angles, focal lengths, and exposures and just sit down and stop trying.  It’s at that point that you really have to start getting creative.  Sometimes when the creative juices are not flowing that can look very forced, and down right bad, then there are other times when you look at the results and think, wow, why didn’t I try this all along.

Last night was one of those night, for me anyway.  I had taken a few shots of the band’s practice and couldn’t really find anything new and exciting so I just sat down on the stage next to the drum set and there it was.  I really had been trying to get a good shot of the drums in this particular setup for about 6 months.  I felt like raising my hands in the middle of thier set to say “I’ve got it!”, but hey, it’s just practice, right.  So here are two of my favorite shots above from last night’s practice.  The first, on the drums is BJ, and the second image is Rob from Marth’s Trouble (a band I have regrettably yet to shoot or see in person).  Other images from last night can be found here.

Update on Cindy Wall’s Story

A story of Cindy Wall that many of you may already know at this point is continuing to make its way around the Internet.  Cindy Wall’s commitment to Christ, baptism, and death in such short succession has now moved around in ways none of us who were involved could have possibly imagined.  That may show the limitations I put on God and His greatness, but it is bigger than just our congregation or church.  See some of the more recent posts from others like:

There are many other examples, and I know I have missed some important ones, but this is a good example of how her story has made it around the Internet, just an incredible story.

Photography is a Collective Ongoing Practice of Art

Jason at Cornerstone Worship Band Practice

BJ at Cornerstone Worship Band Practice

Paul at Cornerstone Worship Band Practice

I often find myself doing a shoot of a “practice” of some kind or another.  The shoot could be band practice, football practice (see Auburn Tigers Football Practice Report for 2008 // Photos), soccer, or any number of other subjects, but practice for an upcoming event or game. [Although the Auburn University Athletics department is less enthusiastic about anyone photographing any practice of any kind, for any reason, of course.]  I have had several people in the past ask me why I shoot a practice instead of just waiting for the real thing (what ever that means).  Well I do have the camera in my hands and taking photos probably 4-5 days out of the week, so why shoot a practice?

Mainly because I need as much practice as I can possibly get, just like the people who are practicing.  Really for me, it isn’t practice, it is always the real thing, but there are several reasons why I like shooting a practice over a live or actual event.  Less people, I have better access to the subjects, and it gets me prepared for the non-practice event, and it’s usually fun.

On Wednesday I took these images of the Cornerstone band practice and there are some of my favorites of the band to date for several reasons, but one is because I have had a lot of practice with this band myself.  With two guest musicians, Paul pictured just above playing the bass from Matha’s Trouble, and Jake playing the keys from Encounter made for a great practice session.

Rhythm Guitar Adds New Flavor to Cornerstone Band

Todd Plays Electric Guitar with Cornerstone

Todd Plays Electric Guitar with Cornerstone

One thing I like about smaller local bands is they bring in new musicians to play all the time, and they always seem to add their own flavor to the band.  If you follow some of the large bands of our time like Third Day or Coldplay, a new guitarist would be big news and would probably disrupt the unity, flow, and chemistry of a band for at least a period of time.  Smaller bands don’t always have the luxury (if you want to put it that way) of being able to have the same musicians play every single time.  As frustrating as that can be for a worship leader or other members of the band, sometimes I find it very refreshing because the guest or new musician always brings his own perspective to the group.

Last night Rob (pictured below), who plays with Martha’s Trouble, joined the Cornerstone band practice to play on Sunday.  I was able to shoot the whole band for about an hour yesterday and these two are two of my favorites shots from last night.  Although I didn’t get a chance to talk with Rob last night (sorry Rob) I have really come to enjoy shooting live bands.  Musicians are one group that (in general terms) love to be photographed doing what they love to do, and that makes for much more appealing images than those who can’t stand to have their photo taken.

If you would like to see the rest of the shoot from last night you can view it in the gallery under people, called music.  A few weeks ago I was able to do a shoot with Encounter with Grace Campus Ministries (see Opening Day for Encounter at Auburn University) which I really enjoyed. Tonight, I will be back on the Auburn University campus to shoot Encounter again, should be a great night, look for some images from that shoot in the upcoming days.

The Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix Video, It's Different

hendrix at woodstockHoliday’s always seem to be a time when we neglect our blogs and online lives for that of something in real life. Tonight I am going to spend the evening with some family and close friends watching the fireworks in Auburn. Each year the city of Auburn puts on one of the best fire works displays I have seen in person. Great for such a small town, so tonight of course I am going to try and get some good fireworks photography.

I love that type of photography but I haven’t shot fireworks photography in almost 10 years now, should be great.  When I get back in the next few days I will post some fireworks shots on the blog here.  While I was waiting I was flipping through some of my music and thinking about what the 4th of July means for this country.  This countries history is short compared to some, parts of history tend to grow dark with a new generation.

I was not alive or when Woodstock took place, so if I want to know anything about it, I have to read the history.  Jimi Hendrix has been on my playlist of artists for years now, but this one performance really stands out.  I can’t decide if it is brilliant or terrible, but it is certainly different.

Holidays, the 4th, and Some Hendrix

I wasn’t going to even do a blog post today, but I had iTune on random and up came the famous version of the Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix, and I thought about this particular holiday. If any of my two or three readers read my rant on Father’s Day (Why I Don’t Like Father’s Day // Top 10) you might get an idea I don’t like holiday days. Generally, I don’t. Everything is out of sync, but maybe I just have a problem taking some time off.

So, here comes the Hendrix Star Spangled Banner (video of performance). If you have never heard it before, it is not for the faint of heart. Hendrix played this on August 18th, 1969 on the final performance at the Woodstock music festival. He only played it two more times, once in Greenwich Village and once in Harlem where two kids actually stole Hendrix’s guitar out of the back seat of his car before he went on stage.

We are More Than Just one Mind

It just reminded me what a diverse and complex collection of people that have graced the history of the United States. You may not care for Hendrix, his lifestyle, or his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner (I know many who hate it) but he was a part of what made this country what it is today, just as much as we all are. Here is wishing everyone a wonderful 4th of July.

Summer Swing in the Park Concert Sessions in Opelika

BJ Playing the Drums at Summer Swing

Do you know what goes on in your own city? Apparently I don’t. Last night I went to shoot the Summer Swing Fest in Opelika Alabama and, who knew, it is a whole summer series of concert events that goes on each Tuesday night during the summer, wow.

Every Tuesday evening beginning May 13, 2008, the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department hosts a free outdoor concert at 7:00 p.m. at Municipal Park in Opelika Alabama. This 14-week concert series offers a wide variety of musical entertainment including Gospel, Jazz, R & B, Oldies, Country, Big Band Swing, Folk, and Community Band music.

Ok, so I found out because I was scheduled to shoot the Cornerstone Band that night, but what a great event for the city, and there were a lot of people there as well.

This particular event had two bands, the Cornerstone Band and the Sons of Asaph Band from Auburn United Methodist Church. I had a great time and although I did not know this was an event that goes on each summer, I do now. I am still in the process of editing the shoot from last night and I will post an update here with a link to the final image edit when completed.

Update: I completed the edit for this gallery and you can find the complete Summer Swing gallery upload here.

Learning Music History Again and Trying to Pick the E Blues Scale

Tuesday’s are busy days around our place. We usually take all our orders from over the weekend in to USPS, which we did today. Deborah packaged up all the book orders, I did all the eBay orders and we made it into town in time for my guitar lesson.

What’s in an E Blues Scale Again?

We found a great deal on a beginner Fender Guitar a month or so ago, and I started taking lessons each Tuesday. This was only my second lesson, but I learned today that I was not holding the pick properly (or using the proper pick), looking in the correct spot, plucking the stings in the correct way, and I lost track after that. It wasn’t really that bad but I have never picked up a guitar prior to my last two lessons so the learning curve seems high to me, especially when you have a day job and can’t practice all that much. I did continue on with the open E Blues Scale, and will try to use some proper technique for next week. At least I can play and still feel my fingers.

New Music Added

I received a few new CD’s from my trading pals over at LaLa again today, and few from Amazon. I have been trying to get a better collection of blues guitarist and these will fit the bill quite nicely.

  • Santana – The Essential
  • Santana – Supernatural
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – The Sky is Crying
  • The Killers – Hot Fuss
  • The Killers – Sam’s Town

Everything Else

We finished our work today rather early and went out to dinner at a favorite local place in town called Locos. Usually a college hang out but we arrive well before any of the wilder bunch arrives and we had a nice relaxed meal. By the time we got home it was still light enough outside to take a short walk, only about 2 miles today.