Pretty sure I filled my hairwhips quota early in 2011. Of course, that'll happen when you have full-set shooting access to Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. That, and getting axe-kicked in the head – but hey, this is rock ‘n roll. And not even a potential concussion was going to stop me from bringing home all the pummeling moments from this show.
First off, shout out to my friend and fellow music photographer Torry Pendergrass for hooking this show up. Torry is the man behind Red Monkey Designs and has worked with Zakk Wylde for over a decade on custom guitar straps, vests, and other premium leather wear (including the official Black Label Order vests).
All these images were made possibly thanks to Torry. (Thanks, buddy!)
I started this shot shooting all primes on the Nikon D700, switching between the new Nikon 35mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/1.4 primarily, as those two offered a great field of view on the full-frame DSLR for Zakk's stage antics.
However, lighting was bright enough that I pretty quickly abandoned the primes in favor of the flexibility of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. I love primes due to the speed but the framing options of a midrange zoom are just so much more useful to me for a show like this.
In terms of shooting, this show was pretty straight forward. Zakk Wylde and crew are pretty well hedged in by wedges a the front of the stage, not to mention a few road cases, so after factoring in the 5-foot stage of the Pageant, the angles are somewhat limited. However, add in the fact that the guys don't move around that much, these slight obstacles weren't that big of a concern, especially with the luxury of shooting the entire set.
For me, there were two big benefits for additional access.
One was the freedom to focus on nailing some killer shots of the full band after working Zakk Wylde. The other members of Black Label Society weren't as well lit, so having extra time to dedicate to bassist John DeServio, guitarist Nick Catanese and drummer Mike Froedge.
The other benefit was just being able to shoot more. More lighting schemes. More guitar solos. More hairwhips. The band didn't do much else in the rest of the set that they didn't do in the first three songs (aside from the Wylde hoisting his guitars in the air toward the end of the set), but, for me, the ability to shoot a full set makes all the difference in terms of depth.
Once again, big shout out again to my pal Torry for the big hookup.