Returning to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater after the infamous “Pigeon Gate,” Kings of Leon made right in their make-up performance in St. Louis, much to the delight of fans.
However, with their standard shooting restrictions in place, Kings of Leon were as challenging as ever to photograph.
For me, this was a bittersweet shoot. On the one hand, photographing a band on the level of Kings of Leon is always exciting – I never get tired of it. On the other hand, Kings of Leon's shooting restrictions on photographers are difficult to work with.
For the last few years, Kings of Leon have limited photography to the outer quarters of the stage, leaving the center part of the photo pit a dead zone. In contrast to their 2008 tour, where crossing the center part of the stage was allowed as long as photographers did not stop in the center, the 2009 and 2010 tours have barred movement across the center. Once you pick your side, you're stuck with your choice.
My favorite recent opportunity to photograph Kings of Leon was their 2009 arena tour. Even though these same restrictions were in place, I felt that the band was much more dynamic in their stage presence, and especially with frontman Caleb Followill coming out to the edge of the stage at one point, which made for a fantastic photo op.
With this show, I felt that the band either stayed closer to their mics and toward the back of the stage.
For this show, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 proved invaluable. Since I'd shot the band two months prior at this same venue, I had a good idea of what the shooting angles and distances would be, so I teamed the telephoto with the Nikon D3, my primary camera body. Even though the Nikon D700 has the same AF system and very similar specs, when it comes to performance I still turn to my D3 for the most demanding tasks and critical work.
Strangely, the lighting for this second go-around was different than it was in July. Instead of relatively even crosslighting, the singer Caleb had a spotlight on him from high in the grid coming from the opposite side, which you can see in the above shot.
Considering the monitors, lights, shooting restrictions, and the relatively distant position of the band, this was shoot was a big challenge.
For me, I found that the best time for shooting were the very short times when the band broke away from their mics. Ironically, even though he was the second farthest member from my spot and behind his kit, drummer Nathan Followill was among the easier subjects for the night's shoot.