BLOG: The lesson of shooting Spanish Harlem Orchestra – find different shooting spots till your happy with the composition

After an amazing opening night Aretha Franklin gave The Toronto Jazz Festival on Friday, I returned Sunday to the main stage tent for The Spanish Harlem Orchestra – a Grammy award winning latin dance music band that I figured would be a fun show under the main stage tent (and it was.)

I was quickly reminded of something when pulling out the camera – it’s far more challenging finding good picture composition for a thirteen piece band, than when shooting solo artists. In the case of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, I discovered being very close to the stage (the usual hotspot for capturing artists best) would not prove to be the ideal shooting location on this evening.
[singlepic id=730]I started side-stage left. But having the band leader’s back to me (on piano) just wasn’t working.
[singlepic id=731]When moving to first-row, centre stage – it took about a second for me to realize I just wouldn’t be able to capture a full band shot. You might have gotten something cool if you were shooting with a 10mm fish-eye lens, but I had nothing wider than my 35mm Nikon prime – no way I would get a full-band shot from this spot.
[singlepic id=732]Spent a few minutes catching some close up stuff while I was in the front-row, but was anxious to move onto a better shooting spot.
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[singlepic id=734]We next tried side stage-right, almost behind the band. An interesting spot. But I still wasn’t completely satisfied.
[singlepic id=736]When I got to centre stage, from the back of the main tent, I could start to feel we were getting closer to right spot to capture the band.
[singlepic id=735]BINGO! Centre stage, about ten rows back felt like the right spot to capture the full band. Sometimes it’s too packed in shows to afford the luxury of moving around like I did for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra tonight. But the lesson on the night for me is if the shots aren’t feeling right and you’re not happy with the composition – move around in the venue and find other shooting spots.
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