Though Pete Francis has been coming out with some amazing music of his own over the past few years, most of you may know him as the frontman of Dispatch. I shot a chunk of their 2011 reunion tour, and generally refer to them as the ‘biggest band in the World that nobody knows’ (I mean that in the best way possible, of course). They’re the only band I’ve ever known who was almost completely unknown to the mainstream, but could sell out the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey (25k people), and three nights in a row at the Boston Garden, the very next week.

Since that time, Pete and I have become good friends, and recently asked If i’d swing by his home studio to take some photos. The afternoon was half hanging out, half shooting, but think we got some really fun photos out of it…

The ambient light in the room was soft, but on the flat side. I’ve been playing around quite a bit with Rosco LED panels, and used a 12″ HO+ Circle as my key light, which added just a touch of light to spark the scene. Definitely worth checking out, as it’s far softer than any LED i’ve ever seen.

We scouted around his backyard for a few, and came across this amazing wood shed, that worked perfectly for some simply lit portraits.  It’s really easy to overlight/overproduce a shoot, and I’ve been trying to fight against that a bit lately. Instead, i’ve been working on getting into the mindset of lighting as simply as possible, and documenting the experience of the day…which I’d like to think leads to a truly genuine portrait.

All of the above were shot on the Leica M (Type 240), with a 21mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/2.

 

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In the ongoing quest to produce as much fresh work as possible, I’m constantly trying to self-assign shoots.  Some are well planned out with a good chunk of time (and sometimes budget) put into them to pull it all off.  Others are much more spur of the moment and involve a lot of winging it on-location– which I’ve actually grown to love.

I’m a long-time fan of singer/songwriter, Donavon Frankenreiter (who started his career as a pro-surfer), and happened to be playing at a small venue in my town recently.  I got in touch with his management, and pitched the idea of shooting a super quick pre-show portrait at the venue, which they were kind enough to grant access to.

During sound check, I scouted around the venue to try to find some good angles, but was struggling a bit.  About the only truly graphic element in the entire theatre was the seats.  The above shot was my first scouting photo..which is OK, but really isn’t overly exciting.

In the midst of struggling to find a better angle, I ran up to the balcony, and found a much more interesting vantage point looking straight down towards the seats…

A shoot-through umbrella was my main light, as I knew it would be a broad enough light to let him move around a bit, unlike a small soft box.  Since umbrellas tend to throw light all over the place, I left the bottom half of the umbrella’s fabric on, to help control spill onto the floor.

I also dragged shutter just enough to let the lighting already in the theatre play into the shot, and help to fill the background.

I spent about five minutes with Donavon, and here’s two of my favorites from that day…

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