[Photo Post] The Lees of Memory at Secret Stages

Back in my last Bachelor Chronicles post I talked about all the times I got in trouble for drumming too much and how often I played faux concerts for equally faux audiences. I thought for sure I’d be in a band once I got old enough — and actually learned how to play an instrument.

I got old enough but didn’t learn an instrument properly until I was in college. But even then it didn’t really matter — I was too introverted and self-conscious to ever step on stage with a band. Hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to approach a group of guys to start a band. Double hell, I was too introverted and self-conscious to play my instrument in front of anyone but my girlfriend and mom.

Being in a band was just never going to happen for me. But I’ve always had an appreciation for the scene and wanted to be involved in it in any way I could. I’d spend the next decade or so doing freebee design work for local artists, most of which were never used (The Beat Officers changed their name after I made several t-shirt designs for them; Woe to the Inhabiters broke up after I made a custom painting and album cover design for them; Pink Carnage took my favorite graphic I ever designed and tossed it aside for someone else’s logo design that was merely a downloaded font colored pink).

Finally, a year or two ago, I got a pretty rewarding gig doing design and layout work for my friend’s band The Lees of Memory. The Lees are made up of John Davis, Brandon Fisher — both formerly of Superdrag, a band I’ve admired for years — and Davis’ Epic Ditch bandmate Nick Slack. The guys released a couple of full lengths — Sisyphus Says (2014; released by SideOneDummy) and Unnecessary Evil (2016; released independently) — and a few 7″ singles including 2015’s Soft Places / Within a Dream II, 2015’s Ain’t No Changing Baby’s Mind / Let’s Turn Our Love Up Loud and 2016’s All powerful You.

It wasn’t until 2017 that I got to help the guys out. I did center label design for their 7″ single Run Away to Here / Tears of Joy, center label and sleeve layout design for the 7″ single When The Roses Bloom/The River and finally, center label and gatefold layout design for the band’s most recent masterpiece, the double LP The Blinding White of Nothing at All.

While their band has three proper members, the nature of their sound requires a much larger band (read: 7-9 guys) to replicate in concert. A combination of this and the fact that the members all live in different towns means concerts are extremely difficult to organize if not impossible altogether. So when the band was invited to play Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, on August 4, you’d be an idiot if you’d think I’d miss it.

And, of course, I took my camera. Small festival though it may have been, it was one of the coolest projects I’ve ever gotten to be a part of.

The band played at midnight to a sexy audience at the Hangar in Birmingham’s Avandale neighborhood. In addition to Brandon, John and Nick, the band was rounded out by Sam Powers (Superdrag alum) on bass, Dan Benningfield on keys, Jason Moore (of Nashville band The Katies) on guitar and musical powerhouse Ethan Luck (of too many noteworthy bands to list) on guitar.

Here are a few photos from the set. Everything was taken with my Canon EOS 77D with a 50mm lens. If you want to see more, as always, they’re on my Flickr page.

Secret Stages was a pretty rad weekend festival. While we were only in town for the afternoon/evening, we were still able to see a lot of great acts including Mobile, Alabama, hip hop act BassHead Jazz, electro-soundscape artist BÊNNÍ (New Orleans, Lousiana), midi sample composer Seth Graham (Dayton, Ohio) and wild-ass sexy rock and roll group Telefones (Nashville, Tennessee).

There are a ton of links above but I’ll go ahead and post them all again below and implore you to follow everything if you’re into music or art in general.

[photo post] Corpus of Christ

So … I’ve had a couple of posts saved in a plain text doc for months. I mean, like … 10 months. Anyway. I’m catching up. Here’s Jesus.

I tried the Jesus thing one time. It didn’t end well.

I tried it again several years later. Same.

I tried it a third time a few years ago. Once again — same.

Recently, I thought to myself, I hate the church. And it’s true. Mostly.

I do hate “the church,” but I actually kind of love going to church. I don’t believe the fairy tales but I do love people-watching and I’ve always been a sucker for old-time gospel music and the smell of a musty hymnal.

Atheist though I may be, there’s something about Christian imagery (and that of any other religion, honestly) that strikes me as fascinating. Colorful paintings of the Son of Man, strange Americanized portraits of the Living God, crosses made of wood, stone or steel…

…and especially the crucified Messiah.

This was spotted at the end of September, 2017, at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Bristol, VA. Lit up by bright spotlights, Jesus hangs in agony just under an orange waxing crescent moon. You can almost hear His agonizing, holy cries – why hast thou forsaken me?

You can grab a few other angles on Flickr page.

Nice knowing you, King of the Jews. Maybe we’ll try it again some time.

…Or you know. Maybe not.

[photo post] Lost Sew’l Organics, October 2017

You guys already know how much I love doing photo shoots for Lost Sew’l Organics. I did it back in August ’16, then again in November ’16, and most recently in March ’17. I love shooting photos, y’all know that, but there’s nothing I like more than doing these fashion shoots with Amber and her friends.

This time around, Amber wanted some shots for an all-black made-to-order line (released today) and she’d found a rad little spot in downtown Sevierville, TN — Off The Chain Cycles is a custom bicycle service and restoration shop that only recently opened its doors. When I was told “downtown Sevierville,” my first thoughts were I’ve never been there and where IS downtown Sevierville, anyway?

Turns out I’ve been by it the hundreds of times I’ve driven to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg over the last almost 33 years. I feel stupid for skipping over it because it’s actually quite beautiful. And budding, to say the least. Lots of new shops opening and rumor has it there’s a lot of new restaurants with outdoor seating slated to open in the next few months. And right in the middle of it — this custom bike shop.

RAD

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to do the above photo shoots and work with her amazing friends Sam, Caitlin and Mal. Sam is world-famous at this point. She’s been the star of every shoot, and she was back again for this one. Amber also brought along her assistant Ali and her new model Angelika.

And gods bless America, Angelika…

I’ll let you figure out why I say that.

I did something a little different this time around in the form of a quick promo video. Consider this a teaser for the photos below:

I shot 626 photos and delivered 200. I’ve uploaded 47 to my Flickr account and will be pushing 17 to my Instagram. Below are 8 of my favorites. Get at ’em. Lens credits in the captions.

Also, thanks to Amber, Ali and Mark, we got a few BTS “action” shots. Dig ’em.

Even though Angelika and Sam did a great job making me look like I know what I’m doing, I’m always learning and looking to share my knowledge with anyone that’s interested. Here are a few things I learned on this shoot:

  • I’ve said this before but it’s way important to be over-prepared if you’re not sure where you’re shooting. This time around, I brought my 24mm, my 50mm and my 85mm lenses but only because I didn’t know what I’d have to shoot and how much space I’d be able to shoot in. Turns out, I used all three for three completely different shots. I was a little over-prepared, and it worked out.
  • I bought an LED that fits on your hot shoe a couple of years ago (like this one) thinking it would be good for handheld documentary-style video. Turns out, I was wrong. BUT…That handy dandy light comes in handy for some of these shoots if I want juuuust a little more light. This was no exception. While we had ample natural lighting coming from the windows of the shop, there were a few times that having a second light off to the side, turned down to about 50% or so, lightened up shadows just perfectly. That light has been rad, even though I’ve never used it for its intended purpose.
  • If you have a shady spot and morning light…USE IT. We agreed to go shoot in the shop and they were gracious enough to let us come in and do it, but I just couldn’t stay inside the whole time while we had such even cool lighting outside the shop. Some of the best shots of the day happened out there. Don’t be lazy, y’all.
  • And sometimes some people just can’t stop modeling with their face.

Here’s a lot of social stuff for y’all to get in on. Follow all of it, man!