Yesterday, I covered "American Idols Live." I'm not a fan of the show. In fact, unlike the majority of America, I've never watched one single episode. I don't even really own a television. (Okay, my roommate has a television, but we have no cable and she doesn't watch it that much either except for her Planet Earth DVD set.) I'm so out of the pop culture loop, I even had to ask for help on the cutlines. I really had no idea who these people were, but apparently, two are from the Seattle area.
Driving on I-5, being the usual nightmare that it can be on a Friday afternoon, slowed down about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma. Just as I was leaving Seattle, my editor called to tell me there had been a diesel spill on the other side of the freeway ("it shouldn't effect you"), about halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, and "can you pull over and get a quick shot of the backed up traffic?" Of course I can.
I did like I was asked. The thing, though, is unlike Texas where there are easy and frequent exits and overpasses to photograph bad traffic from, I-5 was really messy and frustrating. Plus, I had to be at the Tacoma Dome at a precise time, and although I left early as a contingency, this extra time was now going to make things critical.
I found an overpass just north of Tacoma, drove into a shopping center, hiked through some mud, crossed an entrance ramp and made a photo of cars parked on the freeway (which consequentially never ran). I was now about forty-five minutes away from "showtime" at the Dome and traffic was a nightmare on both sides of the freeway.
I pulled over into a parking lot, found a frame, dropped it into an ftp (file transfer protocol) after getting my network going using a verizon card (this allows me access to the internet from anywhere) and ended up transmitting while I was driving to the dome. Its not as hairy as it sounds. Once I drop the file, the rest is up to the computer to move the file.
Did I mention I was also really low on gas?
I finally made it to the Tacoma Dome with about thirty minutes to spare. While I was waiting, I saw one of the Idol guys out by the fence signing autographs. I figured, what the heck? I'll go make some pics.
After I had made my frame, one of the security people came out to tell me I couldn't take pictures of anything outside of the approved photo pit I would be in during the first song and a medley later in the evening.
I was fine with that, since I had already made my picture.
Anyway, the event started about forty-five minutes later than what it was supposed to. I had to sign some contract before going in. I struck through every item on the list before signing. They didn't seem to care or notice. It was ridiculous. Everything I shoot for the paper belongs to the paper, period.
They corralled three of us, the Tacoma Dome shooter, some other guy with nice equipment but no camera straps (kind of a dilettante, especially if you're shooting with a $4,500.00 Canon Mark III and don't have the sense or experience to use a camera strap), and me.
We were rushed in, had ten minutes of blitzkrieg shooting, and then we were out. My assignment was to photograph this Blake guy and this Sanjaya guy. The folks back at the paper were pleased after I had rushed out to my car to transmit the images. I have a hard time justifying any kind of performance image. Everything has been done for you. Its like fishing at a trout farm. Basically the lighting has been set up in an interesting way, and the performers are there to do, say, or look interesting. All you have to do is stand there and press your button.
I guess this isn't necessarily true. As I left, the dilettante turns to me and says, "I didn't get any of the crowd, it was too dark." I replied that "You just have to wait for the light."
I did find I had to move around quite a bit and look for interesting angles and such. Not as easy as I thought, especially with a ten minute time limit. Anyway, enough of my blabbering, here come the "stars."