My Story

 

Nothing equals the excitement and adrenalin rush that comes from shooting a live concert. A record will always pale in comparison. A rock group is always moving on stage, not to mention the lights and crowd. To get good results the photographer cannot use flash, as that would destroy the live ambience. Back then, auto focus was a dream away. You had to focus on a moving singer or guitarist who was never stationary, while watching your light meter at the same time. It was a great challenge, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

 

As far as I am concerned, this was the golden era of rock concert photography in Calgary. First, most concerts were held in the Stampede Corral and were usually rush seating. This meant that you could simply push your way to the front of the stage and you were all set. Secondly, there were no security goon squads out there to take away your camera. The promoters didn't care as long as they had their share of the take.

 

This may have been because Calgary wasn't exactly the centre stage of the rock world. In most cases, if bands played Calgary, it was because they were up and coming and not because they were on top of the business. If they were on top, they would not be coming to Calgary. The venues were just too small. The Stampede Corral, a glorified cement barn built in 1950, was not a massive colliseum. It only had capacity for about 7,500 people. It took the 1988 Winter Olypmics in Calgary before a decent 18,000 seat venue was constructed which would attract bigger acts like U2 and the Rolling Stones.

 

As my appetite for existing light photography grew my knowledge of developing and printing improved thanks to a friend by the name of Don McKenzie. He taught me how to develop slide film and to push the ISO of film to make it more sensitive in dark existing light conditions, typical of a rock concert. Don also showed me how to make color prints from slides. At this time I never worked with Black and White film. I went straight to working esclusively with color. Without his help, I never woud have learned a thing about printing or developing. I tried getting a teacher at school to show me how to make color prints but that answer was always that it was too adavanced for someone my age. To be frank, at this point, I think I knew more that that teacher.