Normally, I despise day-long outdoor festivals. Big crowds of sweaty people, oppressive heat, lousy sound, bad light, & $5 bottles of water. This year’s First Flush Festival broke most of the rules. You couldn’t ask for better weather, giant fluffy clouds peppered the sky providing not only moments of natural shade, but great light diffusion. The sound was great for an outdoor venue and since it was on the Charleston Tea Plantation, there was free sweet tea for all! There were still big crowds of sweaty people, but there was plenty of space to move and still enjoy the music.
Vermont’s Grace Potter & The Nocturnals headlined the event with their brand of straight-up rock n’ roll. My daughter was especially excited to see Grace Potter because of her cover of White Rabbit on Tim Burton’s Almost Alice soundtrack. She couldn’t believe that someone “famous” (by her standards) was in Charleston!
Outdoor stages like the one at First Flush Fest are not designed to tailor to photographers, they are meant to make a comfortable environment for the musicians. Since event photography is a lot about troubleshooting the situation to make the best image you can, I decided that most of the band shots should be close-up and tight. Even in this photo, which I tried to pull back enough to get multiple band members, shows the back of a pick-up truck in the background among the rest of the distracting stands and such.
Another tip is to move around. Unfortunately for me (not for the band), it was packed up in front of the stage. I did not have access to the photo area, so I was limited by the fact that I didn’t want to push my way around spectators while they were enjoying the show. I did manage to move to the side of the stage and get some less distracting shots of the band members:
I realized I wasn’t going to get the perfect clean shot organically of any of the bands, so I did take one shot of the bassist and blow out the background enough to make it look like she’s in front of a white background:
The band was great and Grace Potter has an amazing voice (and range – she can hit notes higher than I thought humanly possible).
Music wasn’t the only attraction. The food trucks were there making me wish we arrived a bit earlier – there was a hole in the pit of my soul when I walked up to Roti Rolls only to find out they’re out of rolls! My wife had a similar experience when they were out of her favorite tacos at Taco Boy’s truck. Oh, what a world, what a world. We did manage to score some hand-made ice pops from the King of Pops:
The was also shopping and jump castles and hula hoops for the kids to entertain themselves with.
Not to mention the old fashioned fun of climbing a tree. I mean, why else would they let their branches hang so low but as to invite kids to jump up and climb?
I’ve been hearing about the band Leslie for years now, and I finally got a chance to see them at the FFF.
If AC/DC had a bastard child while touring in the south, the tucked away little gem would sound a lot like Leslie. Loud, guitar driven southern rock. They truly impressed the crowd with their energy.
They have had their band photos made in the past by the likes of Zack Arias, so I think they’ve got to have good taste 😉
They also won over my daughter by giving out free posters and stickers, and making themselves available after their set for pictures and autographs. Here’s a tip to every band out there – young kids will be loyal if you give them a solid reason to be – Treat your fans like fans!! Leslie didn’t disappoint. Check out this photo of Mac with the band:
Unfortunately there’s a random dude growing out of my kid’s head. Sometimes you just have to deal with it 🙂 Before I forget, you can check out all of my photos from FFF on my Flickr set (as well as last years pics if you have time). And to wrap this up, I bring you a picture of “Broadband”. This guy stopped me in the crowd and assured me that I needed to take his picture and publish it on my blog. Who am I to disagree with a guy named Broadband?