A photograph from this performance would be one of my first images published, as a free-lancer, in California. The following year, I would be added to the ‘Contributing Photographers’ credits for this free monthly, as I was one of the few who was eager to attend performances by independent artists at this particular point in time, for the magazine. I was still a free-lancer, but after a few more shows, I had proven myself, somewhat.
This particular performance would be challenging for me, as I knew from attending a few shows at Wolfgang’s, in the past, that the lighting was not especially bright. I came prepared to use a flash, which I never liked to use, but in this case, I did not have much choice. This would give me the opportunity to experiment a bit with the use of an extended cable for the flash unit, so I wound up playing with the direction of the light somewhat. The results show that it worked, for the most part, on the individual shots, from the waist up, but wasn’t so effective if I tried full-frame exposures [the whites became too strong, and this would mar the images of Liz Fraser, in some cases, but not so much with images of the two gentlemen in the band, as they wore darker clothing]. I had staked out a position right at the lip of the stage, just so I could “spread out” a bit, with my equipment. Again, it was not really possible to move to another spot, as I would immediately lose that vantage point for the remainder of the show, so I stayed in that one place for the duration.
The performance, itself, was decent, but I thought the majesty of the sound of the band on record, did not quite translate in the club. Perhaps the sound man did not quite know what to do with their particular “sonic approach”, but from the lip of the stage, much of the vocals were buried in the wash of sound coming from the bass and guitar. I feel the images, ended up being better than the performance, in some respects. You might imagine how relieved I was when I saw the first images developing, and they turned out in the manner that they did. The fabric of the dress that Ms. Fraser wore, shone very nicely in the reflected light, and I was fortunate to capture some of her nervous hand gestures, as well. For most of the show, Robin Guthrie was off to the opposite side of the stage, so the flash aided in that respect, as well; getting him to show up clearly, as he concentrated on his guitar and treatments. Simon Raymonde was closest to where I was positioned, so he was easiest to photograph. I always felt a bit guilty about using the flash, as I know it can be a bit of a nuisance to the musicians, but there really was no other choice.
There was one exception to my use of the flash, because at a certain point in the performance, the stage lights went much brighter, and I decided to take a couple of frames with the available light. As luck would have it, one of my favorite images was the result: one in which Ms. Fraser looks as if she stepped out of a silent movie still. I have noted it below.
The magazine never used color photos for its contents, so I rarely took color photos at these shows, and this is one performance which I only used black & white film. No matter; the results are very, very satisfying, to say the least!
An official Cocteau Twins’ website:
The official Robin Guthrie website:
A very nice blog that used a few of my images, and which features women in music:
NOTE: A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE WATERMARKS ON MY WORK
While many of you who arrive here, to look at these photographs may get turned off to my use of watermarks [thinking they ruin the image], let me explain why I choose to do this.
No one paid for my camera equipment but me. No one paid for the film I used to take these photographs. On occasion, when I free-lanced for a free monthly newsletter, and they published a photo of mine, the payment for each photograph barely paid for the fuel to get my vehicle to the show [when I *did* have a vehicle], and the film I used on that night.
Not too many of my photos were published, at the time, because the artists I chose to capture images of, were not hugely popular then. Hence, the old dictum, “Supply and Demand”; I had the supply, but the demand [pre-Internet], was not there. You can argue the relative merits of the quality of my work, and that is precisely what a blog offers: a venue for discussion.
Back to the watermarks: no one is subsidizing my time to scan and then clean up the images I am presenting here. Start to finish, each negative will take approximately an hour-and-a-half to reach “proof” quality – which is what you will see here. This is my labor of love, and until there is some measurable return on my efforts, what you see is what you get.