Blue James Band

Photographed 2/04/2006
Photographer: David Arnspiger

My first assignment for Sugarbuzz Magazine shooting a Magic Christian concert lead to another first for me, band portraits. Victoria Joyce recommended me to a band she knew called The Blue James Band.

Being the eager neophyte that I was at the time, I gladly accepted the challenge of photographing the four guys in the band. I told them I had shot portraits in studio before and invited them to my fledgling operation, but they wanted something outdoors.

I don't remember who suggested it first, but Ferndell Park in Griffith Park was settled on as a location. It's a long and beautiful section of the park that has fond childhood memories for me. I was excited about working there.

Plus, Blue James Band was willing to step in front of my camera at the incredibly reasonable price of 'free'. I felt like I could do the job, I was confident and I had gear that could do the job, but once again I was lacking in experience.

This session didn't light anyone's world on fire, and I don't think these photos ever saw the light of day in publicity from the band. I never heard from them after delivering the shots, so I think we can chalk that one up in the Loss column. However, I learned a lot from it and I am not afraid of showing the pics to the world.

Lesson number one, having confidence does not matter if you don't have a plan or the ability to direct your subjects. I am (was?) an introvert at heart, and giving people direction is something I do in my day job as a Manager, but rarely in the real world outside of work. These guys wanted to know what to do and I was not prepared, so I faked it. I walked them around looking for nice spots to shoot in, and then I would tell them all to stand in that spot while I quietly snapped pictures. Some of the expressions in these shots are probably the guys in the band going 'What the fuck do I do?'

The second lesson I learned from this shoot was to give more direction on how to dress for the shoot. These guys came to the shoot with no coordination in their look. In some cases looking like they just rolled out of bed. I had asked them to bring instruments, and they 'forgot', so we had some limitations on our looks. Coupled with my lack of direction we were off to a good start.

Initially, we did not click. I was worried they would bail out, so I started to ask them questions about their band and what they wanted to try to get in the shots (A little late!). They started to warm up from this and we started looking for good spots together, and ideas started to flow a bit from both sides of the camera.

We found a hillside street where we staged some shots of them looking like their lead singer was holding the rest of the band in his hands. It was cheesy, but we really started to have some fun at that point. We wrapped up after a couple of hours of shooting and I went home and processed the shots.

The samples below are in the sequence they were shot in, and I think the very first one in both color and black and white is one of the best from the session.

I gained experience from this shoot, so it wasn't all bad. I am sorry I let the band down and didn't give them shots they could use. Let me know what you think of the shots on my Facebook or Google+ pages

Enjoy the images below.