Two of my favorite hobbies are photography and playing music.
I’d be better at both if I knew what I was doing.
When it comes to taking photos, I’d like to think I’m decent. I’m no Jimmy McDonald, but I do OK.
As for music, I enjoy listening to people who play better than me — which doesn’t take much.
Over the past seven months or so, I’ve had the opportunity to combine the two by taking photographs of local bands.
It started last November when I went out to get a photo of blind drummer Stephen Wyand sitting in on a few songs with Black Powder at the Southern Roadhouse, several of which ran in the Daily Journal.
From there, the hobby of shooting local bands took off.
The following week, I took my camera to the Hardwired gig at Hudson Brothers Deli. Although based a little farther west of here, the band features Richmond County natives Philip Neal on guitar and Bub Barrett on bass, along with Mark McRae on drums.
Since then, I have I shot photos at nearly every Black Powder and Hardwired show. I’ve also had the pleasure of shooting other bands, including Hydrenaline, Loaded Dice, the Safety Committee and Breathe New Life.
Several bands — including Dark Horse and Ponder — I have yet to shoot.
Several months ago, I took photos during Bucky Covington’s SpringFest show. However, he’s not the most famous musician I’ve shot. That would be 80s pop-rock star Eddie Money at the 2005 Crystal Coast Bike Fest in New Bern, when I was co-publishing the Independent Register with Eric Voliva and former Daily Journal editor Corey Friedman.
In early 2015, before I started going to local shows, I also shot singer/songwriter Jordan Page — the troubadour of the Liberty Movement — at his appearances in Charlotte and Raleigh.
Band photography has its challenges.
Lighting is probably the most challenging, as some groups don’t bring extra lights, or have them set up in a way that doesn’t make shooting them any easier.
Another obstacle is movement, which can mean the difference between a good photo and a blurry one. Hardwired’s Neal is difficult to capture because he never stands still — working his way through the audience while laying down lead licks that would make the late Randy Rhodes proud.
Drummers are also hard to shoot because of the constant movement.
Oftentimes, the lighting and movement issues combine, resulting in a dark, blurry photo.
However, sometimes the Universe aligns just right — as was the case with one picture I snapped of Breathe New Life frontman Mark McKinney this spring.
Out of every photo shoot, I usually pick about 25 percent that I consider worthy enough to show the world through my personal Facebook page.
At one time, every member of Hydrenaline had a photo I took as their profile picture. Several other bands have used my photos on their personal pages or to promote upcoming gigs.
I don’t mind, as they often give my credit and thank me.
Sometimes, I feel bad when the tip jar is passed around and I don’t have any bills to drop in. But as long as I have my camera, I consider that adequate support.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.