When I first saw the March Fourth Marching Band perform and photographed them, I knew that they were something special. I love shooting musicians, and every show is different, but at the same time, a lot of shows really aren't that different. I get it - I'm a musician as well, and I really focus on the music while I'm playing. At the same time, the audience is there to be entertained. They want an experience. March Fourth provides that experience.
After shooting that first show, Polly Bates, one of the dancers/stilt-walkers/all-around-kick-ass performers from M4, contacted me about using a photo I had shot for a profile article being written about Polly. We got to talking, and I threw around some ideas I had for the next time M4 came to town. My original thought was to shoot some backstage, behind-the-scenes shots of the band getting ready, but after talking with Polly, it seemed that may not work out for a shoot. I wanted to capture a bit of the humanity and reality behind the spectacle that is M4. After thinking through my goals for the project a bit more, I made another proposal: before and after shots of members of the band - basically capturing the members as "regular, normal" people, in their street clothes, and then again after they have transformed into their funky-superhero alter egos that are March Fourth. (Anthony was quick to point out to me that "normal" is a relative term. I agreed and encouraged him to be himself - however normal that may or may not be!)
I showed up and set up an impromptu studio in the green room of Musikfest Cafe. My setup included a background stand, a small (53") roll of black seamless, and several light stands. I brought along 4 speedlights, a Photek Softlighter II (60") and my "Chinatown Special" homemade beauty dish. Basically, I brought too much stuff, but at the same time, I had a specific vision for this shoot. I also knew it was a unique experience, so I didn't want to compromise that vision in the name of convenience. My original vision for the after photos involved allowing some of the "studio" to be seen in the photos (lights, paper, etc.), but this ended up not looking right to my eye. As a result, I edited the backgrounds upon returning home to give a clean look, focusing the attention of the viewer on the performers.
I often forget to take a shot that documents my setup, but here's a shot of Aaron that shows the setup for the after shots. The beauty dish is visible in the top part of the frame.
Hopefully, the resulting photos capture the essence of what I was going for in this project. The lighting was set up to provide a traditional, portrait look in the before photos, and then transformed to provide some edge, depth, and color to the after shots. The before shots show the members comfortable, with just a bit of extra confidence knowing what they have in store for later. (Think Clark Kent, who always had a little bit of swagger to him, knowing that his true self was just a phone booth away.) The after shots reveal another side to the performers - lighter, darker, crazier, cockier - more.
After seeing the portraits, I hope the viewer is left wondering who exactly each of these people is, and at the same time, feeling like they have learned something more about every one of them. There is truth to both sides, and as Anthony would say, there is no normal.
Jordyn was already getting ready when I arrived to set up, so technically, we don't have a "before" picture of her. However, her photos are amazing, and I had to include them in this set!