Recently, I was fortunate enough to be granted the only photo pass for shooting Earth Wind & Fire at The Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre. This was my first time shooting at the venue and the first time shooting EW&F.
I had a few things working in my favor for this show:
1. There would be a fair amount of daylight at the beginning of the show, which would help keep my ISO settings a little lower than a typical indoor show, resulting in slightly less grainy/noisy images.
2. EW&F travels with a hefty lighting rig, so much of the show would be bright and colorful.
3. As soon as I arrived at the amphitheatre, I ran into my friend / zoo employee / sometimes band-mate, Bruce Burkhart, who proceeded to introduce me to the head of security for that night’s show. Bonus.
Unfortunately, I had a couple challenges to deal with that evening:
1. The artists’ management permitted shooting of the first two songs only. While, this is not uncommon with top-tier artists, it is extremely tough to get used to the stage, the lighting, and the angles and get decent shots in roughly 10 minutes.
2. These guys never stopped moving! Apart from the drummer and keyboard player (who were seated), pretty much everyone else roamed the stage and the risers almost non-stop for the time I was there. And then there was Verdine White (bassist), who’s constant movement, wild expressions and fringed pants made for a fascinating subject. (Plus, as a bassist myself, I was a little partial.)
3. Another difficulty was the front edge of the stage – at about 5 feet high, it was lined with floor monitors, front-fill speakers, and lighting instruments, which made finding a good, unobstructed vantage point hard to find. I can’t tell you how many shots I had with the fluorescent green tambourine in the corner of the shot. (See how many you can spot in the full gallery.)
Eleven minutes and 458 shots later, this funkified freight train of fun was pulling into the station – or at least the station where I had to disembark for the night. I would love to say the music was great, but quite honestly, I really don’t remember hearing it. I was so acutely “focused” on the visual that all else seemed to float away. What I do remember of the music was rich, full and tighter than the spandex on a 70s disco queen.
Despite the initial disappointment of only shooting two songs, I left the zoo that evening feeling like a Shining Star.
Check out the entire gallery of images from the show here, and feel free to browse around all the other galleries as well.
Thanks for looking!
(And special thanks to Mark Young at The Fame Factory for granting permission to shoot this amazing show!)