Music Photography

Concert Crowds

Now that it is summer again, I am looking forward to concert season, especially festival season. I usually enjoy shooting any music related event, but there is something special about a festival. Festivals always have great new artists and many opportunities for interesting photography.

Not all festivals are created equal. The Vans Warped Tour is my favorite as a photographer. Even in harsh mixed light, I was able to take several good crowd shots last year of Enter Shikari. In the slideshow above, my favorite part is the woman in slide 9 who is looking at the stage instead of the lead singer in the crowd. What could be so exciting on stage that she would ignore the lead singer on his back? See photos 10 and 11.

I have discussed the Vans Warped Tour, and other festivals, in the JEA national scholastic journalism publications and in JEA Digital Media  site.Vans Warped is especially great for three reasons.… Read the rest

Melrose Leadership Academy Music Expo

I placed these photos in the music category, but I could have put them in any of the other sections. The Music Expo is an education event, so I could have categorized the photos into either Education or Events. Melrose Leadership Academy’s after school program is also newsworthy. The elementary students attend a Spanish immersion public school in Oakland Unified. The students learn language and culture in a diverse setting.

On Wednesday June 6, 2012, the kindergarten, first and second grade students performed their Spring 2012 Music Expo. The after school program is operated by Asprianet.… Read the rest

Live Music with the Wil Gravatt Band

One month ago, I traveled to Washington DC for the National Walk for Epilepsy. The night I arrived, the Wil Gravatt Band was performing downtown at the Hill Country Boot Bar. Wil Gravatt operates Wil Gravatt Entertainment when he is not performing. Wil also helps my friend Chad Barth organize the Concert for Epilepsy.

In 2007, Chad started the benefit to honor his sister. The first event, a “Karaoke-off,” raised $2,500. By 2011, Chad had recruited experienced event organizers and he was able to organize a benefit concert with two well known country acts. Gravatt deserves some credit for sharing his expertise with Chad. I have only met Wil a few times, but each time, he feels like an old friend. I am looking forward to September when we have the 6th Annual Concert for Epilepsy.

BF… Read the rest

Eventbrite – Connections Made Simple

Yesterday I wrote about Chad Barth, Chad’s Concert for Epilepsy and the Eventbrite’s 2010 MyEventRocked award. (Chad’s concert won; I was the photographer.) The concert connected many people to the epilepsy community and the award helped more than the people at Eventbrite realize.

(Try clicking on the photo!)

Several months ago, Eventbrite hired my friend Chad Barth as their Washington, D.C. event organizer. (Chad also does something with Eventbrite politics.) After Chad joined Eventbrite, he introduced me to a few of his colleagues. When Eventbrite held their Concert Confidential, I photographed the Jackie Greene San Francisco event. I have been waiting for a good reason to thank Eventrbite again and acknowledge Chad, so I am posting while Chad is in town.  The September 2011 Barrel House performance benefited FOGG. I posted about forty of my favorite photos from the concert Brianna Haag organized. (Brianna is the awesome San Francisco Event Evangelist.… Read the rest

Bomba Estereo Cumbia Concert

Melrose Leadership music and art educators are amazing. Juan Carlos Angulo, who is the leader of  Cumbia Tokeson, tours internationally. He also introduced me to cumbia and the world famous Columbian quartet Bomba Estereo. Bomba Estereo won MTV Iggy’s 2010 Best New Band winner.

This week, Melrose Leadership Academy students will perform their twice annual music expo. Some of my photographs displayed at a downtown “coffee art house” document the event. Coincidentally, the coffee shop is called Farley’s East. (no relation.) The photography exhibition is also a small part of a larger fundraising effort to save MLA’s music program. 

Cumbia Tokeson performed at Oakland's The New Parish in May 2011 with headliner Bomba Estereo. (bryan farley)

I photographed Cumbia Tokeson and Bomba Estereo at Oakland’s The New Parish in May of 2011.

Photo GalleryRead the rest

Colbie Callait Brighter Concert Photography

One month ago today, I photographed the wedding of my two friends Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz.  During the ceremony, two other friends performed the love song, “Brighter Than The Sun,” popularized by Colbie Callait. While photographing the wedding, I remembered photographing Colbie Caillat’s concert the previous year. The song, the wedding and the concert had a few things in common.

There are some basic rules that beginning photographers learn when starting. For example, photographers usually learn to shoot with the sun at their back. (In other words, do not shoot into the sun.) Photographers also learn about “the magic hour,” which usually lasts longer than an hour. Magic hour is the special time near sunset when the colors appear magical. Harsh shadows disappear. People do not squint.

Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz were married in Carmel Valley, California on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (Bryan Farley)

There are some other basic rules a photographer learns quickly. Life rarely waits for magic hour, and if you want to learn how to  photograph concerts and weddings, you better learn how to shoot during the middle of the day, and make Colbie Callait or the bubbly bride appear brighter than the sun.… Read the rest

Lessons from Another Funeral

Two days ago I attended a memorial service and reception for Jeffrey Lester; Jeff died two months after being diagnosed with cancer. I have attended many funerals and memorials during the last several years. His memorial service seemed more uplifting. It reflected a life lived fully.

When I left town, I turned on the radio. The first song was an old Tim McGraw favorite, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Sometimes I find the song a little silly. Another time I pulled over to the side of the road, because it has not been safe to drive with tears in my eyes. Yesterday, I drove with a smile as I heard the lines,

I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime


I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have

And I sang along with the lines

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

Then I turned off the radio and drove.… Read the rest

Concert for Epilepsy to Raise Awareness

This March, my children attended the Concert for Epilepsy with me and my wife. As the official photographer for The Concert for Epilepsy, I have remarkable access to the artists.  I meet the artists and discuss epilepsy with them. This week, after my daughter and I witnessed a stranger having a seizure, I remembered the importance of the concert. Raising awareness is an important part of the fundraiser.

Chad Barth organizes the event in honor of his sister Christina. The concert is one of the events during the National Walk for Epilepsy in Washington, D.C. Chad has helped us reach a new audience with his concert. Local radio and television stations support the concert. National companies sponsor us now. Each year, the concert grows, and 2012 will be even larger than 2011 when two multiplatinum acts performed.

This week, my daughter and I witnessed a stranger having a seizure. My daughter Emily was scared.… Read the rest

Simple Plan 2011 Vans Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour is probably my favorite concert festival every year to photograph. In ten hours, I photographed nineteen bands, and I could have photographed more, but I was exhausted. Even with the protection of my press pass, my big toes turned purple from accidental stage dive landings and excited fans. (Even as I write this post for my new blog, the ends of my big toe nails are still purple.)

The festival is run extremely well. Bands start on time. Exactly on time. New bands play next to old bands. Headliners start the show some days. Every thing keeps changing so that each band feels part of the festival. And bands with millions of followers are accessible to high school journalists, which I also appreciate as a high school journalism educator. The last two years, I have attended with high school students. I learn as much from them as they do from me.… Read the rest

Hello world!

… and on the 8th day, God created WordPress. Hail to the Muse!

Until WordPress existed, nobody could say hello to each other.  At least, nobody could say hello to the world. Next thing you know, corporations will become people, Books will have Faces, and Soviet satellites will fall from the sky.

For those of you who have never created a WordPress blog, the first post is already titled, “Hello World!” I kept the original heading. I also added a PhotoShelter photo gallery of the country/pop band Lady Antebellum. About a year ago, Lady A released a single with the same title, but without the exclamation mark.

To see the larger Lady Antebellum Concert Photography Gallery, Go to this link or click the photo above.

Before Lady A won five Grammy Awards, the group used social media effectively. They continue using a blog platform that is similar to WordPress. I wonder what they saw when they first opened their new blog before they started posting.… Read the rest