Monday, April 25, 2011


A very grainy shot, back when I shot pushed color negative film, of the lovely Annabella Lwin singing fiercely at a charity gig. Once quasi-scandalous for her naked pubescent hijinks in Bow Wow Wow, she now is the upbeat Worldbeat queen, and a very lucky performer for someone whose notoriety dates from the punk/post-punk era: not only does she still look great today, but also anyone who's ever heard of her likes her.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Black and white, wide angle lens fun with, from top:

-one of many 1990s configurations of Fleetwood Mac at the Universal Amphitheatre. I gave known Stevie Nicks' enthusiast and She Rok drummer Lisa Lichtenstein, whom I spotted while being strongarmed off the premises post-press photography, my photo pass sticker on the fly as keepsake;

-The Masters Of Reality with no less than the mighty Ginger Baker on drums which made complete sense to me. The Masters waxed Cream-like in their eclecticism despite preponderance of blues, and the singer's sound resembled that of Jack Bruce to the naked ear. Baker even reprised an update of sorts of Cream debut LP's "Pressed Rat And Warthog" in his spoken word ditty for the
Masters' "T.U.S.A." a paean to English tea preparation. I sure
hope that wasn't a penis silhouetted in the foreground;

-and ad hoc strong singer/songwriter/instrumentalists' ensemble performance, post-Sheryl Crow Tuesday Night Music Club-type members, from left South Africa's Johnny Clegg, handsome and genial David Baerwald (co-writer of Crow's breakthrough hit "All I Wanna Do,") Lisa Germano, session violinist extraordinaire, and Freedy Johnston at the Troubadour, West Hollywood CA,
June 3, 1993.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Both sets of photographs were taken with a grouping display in mind. The above black and white shots were taken at Red Bug Gallery in Berkeley, Calif. in the early 1970s. The owners of this pottery-candles-and-macrame boutique inherited a carousel, and in their quest to restore and identify the carved wooden horses, eventually evolved into the premiere dealers of carousel art in the U.S.A. Although it's a close-up, my shot with the dark grey background in fact shows an incredibly rare 1895 specimen, one of four known Dentzel hippocampuses (hippocampi? plural of mythological sea horse) in existence. And there it was back in the day, next to the potteries...

Below left, my photo in the confined gallery space;

 right, fair use of illustration of the entire animal as seen in
the 1983 book The Carousel Animal.

The above color grouping depicts a costuming class project for someone's UCLA film class. The hoop skirted dress's model, Nancy, sewed the yellow seersucker dress by hand, then required suitable themed photography. Her boyfriend "borrowed" a few items and accessories from the school's wardrobe dept. and I posed them in front of a sufficiently huge Beverly Hills estate on Sunset Boulevard to convey the proper English country manor house look. 

Yes we trespassed, but I worked quickly and the models didn't trample any petunias. The invisible irony to me was the model, normally a feisty, bell-bottom jeans-wearing, anti-Vietnam war-protesting street theatre extrovert melting so completely into this ultra-girly, demure period role.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MAREN PARUSEL live 4.7.11

Maren Parusel and band playing Los Feliz' Satellite Club (formerly the famed Spaceland) Apr. 7th.
This is a compliment: if Carla Bruni had wanted to startle folks onstage as well as entertain them, she'd probably emulate Maren Parusel, she of self-professed "German Pop" leanings here in the U.S. of A. but in reality an intriguing frontperson of her eponymous band.

The band came out like gangbusters with a very strong, hard rock opening number "Artificial Gardens," not necessarily what one associates with her normal vocal delivery. (I defer to my friend Kirk Henry's proclamation on the Bruni non-belters metier, "Guys like breathy.") So there's always an edgier undercurrent afoot, like some improbably gamine Chrissie Hynde.

Photo op section: left to right, drummer extraordinaire Tony Matteuci of The Dogs, Mario Escovedo, head honcho of Requiemme Mgmt. media empire, and everyone's fave fun lovin' attorney Anne Marie.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Improper scheduling truncated viewing much of The Fantastic Harlan Jones Band at the Satellite on 4.1.11 in Los Feliz, but what was photographed and heard was adored heartily. How refreshing to encounter a new band with its own style, themes, chops, attitudes and songs, all down pat already. Chris Parsekian (left in photos above and below) writes all the songs.
Although they bristled at my inadvertent comparison to The Quireboys but with far more groove, they wouldn't be out of place in the rollicking canon of Rod Stewart and Faces, the Black Crowes, vintage Chess Records, Chuck Berry, Ike & Tina Turner, The New Barbarians, the Isley Brothers or other professional tail-feather shakers of note.


Sweaty aftermath of the gig for all concerned, left to right FHJB inner circle Frankie Favorito, FHJB's singer/guitarist Chris Parsekian and his friend Will, rock 'n' roll clothing designer Evita Corby and interested bystander, hot guitarist Andrew Scott.
Rarely proffered tech notes: low light with only pink or blue stagelights against silver curtain, but first shots without flash looked good on camera lcd screen at site. When I goosed the color saturation and tweaked its balance later, these appeared, huzzah! I had been thinking in terms of a conversation with an L.A. Times fashion editor earlier in the week wherein she noted Photoshopping/retouching, even in studio fashion shots, was forbidden at her newspaper because of truth in reporting ethos there. When asked if adjusting color balance was sanctioned, like compensating for no or fluorescent lights (which make everyone and everything look green) she said yes, because presumably that was for verisimilitude. This series (minus last flash shot) then could pass muster.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

From one Heather to another

Above pic, Copyright 2011 Heather Bee. All Rights Reserved.

Question (Heather B): Could you spare any advice for a wannabe Rock and Roll photographer? How did you get into this line of work? What were your preparations for this type of job? I've always been fascinated with photography, been a hobby for years, almost caught a break once (I was rejected and it crushed my spirit). I'm trying to move forward with this dream and I feel lost. Any words of wisdom?

Reply (Heather H): Please send me at least one photo that you've taken that is applicable to rock photography, like an action shot, portrait or live onstage shot so that I can see where you are in your skills. I don't want to ramble on and on needlessly!

HB: This is one of my most recent favorites, taken at SXSW in Austin a few weeks ago. It is what rock and roll is made of...the masses. The fans that keep the beast alive! I love the fact that with everyone face forward waiting for something to happen (we all piled in to see The Strokes for free!) this girl is engrossed in her own thoughts. I love to think about what's going on in her head.

One thing that does suck about wanting to be a rock photographer, connections. I have none. You know, connections that will put me closer. I'm barely 5 feet tall and at a show of this size, I'm lucky to get a shot of the back of someone's head, much less the band.

HH: First off, that's a very good photo, and the fact that you know it's a good photo reassures me you know what you're aiming for visually. So take that photo or others you think are as good to your local media, print or online, and offer them the use of it free if they'll publish it with your byline and caption. Write a little blurb caption explaining the who, what, where, why to go with it, just as you explained it to me. Then voila! you've got something that's been deemed good enough by someone other than your friends or your school. You'll be able to answer truthfully when someone asks what's the last thing you had published. That'll help you get the next job. And so on. Connections come from working with people more than partying with people, despite cliches to the contrary.

And lucky you to see the Strokes. I'm surprised your camera wasn't confiscated. If you weren't aware, that's the dirty little secret of music photography, the industry considers it damage control rather than publicity as when I started out. Nowadays, the bigger the act, the more arrangements you have to make to photograph them and usually for only two or three songs, then you have to go away (via strongarmed goons.) Hence, there's only two options at that level, work for the band, or work for some media that gets you permission to photograph the band.

The only way to get around this counterproductive nonsense is to find great acts on the way up and photograph them in smaller venues. This is easier than you think. Since you can postulate about what that female fan in your photo is doing at the show, lost in her own head, then you can develop the insight to see who's going to go the distance to be a "lifer" in the biz. I don't know your age nor need to, but I'm sure you can go to clubs before long at least.

And by the way, I'm short too. Before my ankles were wrecked in car crashes, I always wore really tall-heeled boots or shoes to shoot. Now that I can't I try to get close to the stage even with tall folks blocking: people always move around in any audience and you can be ready to get your shots. The photo feature in my previous blog (the Michael Des Barres Band LINK) was one such crowded gig. I just positioned myself as close as I could where I knew I'd get good angles of the musicians (I hate pics of microphones blocking the faces of singers) and waited for the people in front of me to dance around so I could shoot around or betwixt. Obviously, this is a technique more suited to clubs, but it works.

But then again I shoot through the viewfinder because I want to capture every nuance, gesture or fun serendipity of composition that screams what this music was about, unlike most who just hold up the cameras over their heads and look at the screen to compose a shot, which at least is a useful technique for the height-challenged. I am presuming you'll have a good digital camera that can shoot low light without flash, like ISO 3200, since more shows are inside at night than outside during the day. Early on I borrowed cameras from friends. Good equipment to capture action is sort of a given, plus the means to transmit high-res photos to clients.

To answer your first questions, I'm self-taught, but as an art student I read a lot of books with pictures by Irving Penn, Richard Avedon (two fashion photographers with superb photo style) or by David Gahr and David Bailey to learn what high-key photos reproduced best. Then, with digital, I had to become self-taught all over again! And it never occurred to me not to take a camera with me when I first started going to shows in the Pleistocene, even when all I had was a crummy Instamatic snapshot camera (Example: LINK.)

Good luck and enjoy your first published photograph herein.

Friday, April 1, 2011


The above rollicking rootsrock via Blighty songfest depicted herein came courtesy of The Michael Des Barres Band, live 3.25.11 at Three Club, Hollywood. Exuberant frontman Des Barres we all know from arena-fillers Power Station, the original Glam era's Silverhead, Detective, his ex Ms. Pamela, and his ongoing acting career as the industry's go-to guy to play edgy rockers or edgy anything. (Don't scoff, the late Steve Marriott, he of the mighty lungs for The Small Faces and Humble Pie, also began show biz as a child actor.)

Lots of audience interaction from the band, good taste in retro-referencing via classic soul and Faces-esque pub rock, tasty keyboards, overall good show. Michael Des Barres, vocals, guitar; Chris Henry, guitar; Paul Ill, bass; Chris Joyner, keyboards; David Goodstein, drums

"Calling out to ye Rock Gods!"
Above, job well done.
Photo Op section below, left to right: rocker clothing designer Evita Corby, Des Barres and his lady Britta Morgan Hayertz (and during the performance, pic at bottom)
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