Hello, again


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I’ve always loved lists.  So it’s only appropriate that I start a new entry with a list of what I’ve been up to.

~It’s been 366 days since my last entry

~I’ve changed my blog and intent in life (more on that in another post)

~I’m a completely different person and am enjoying discovering little thing about myself such as:

I’m a sucker for sheep skin and sherpa fabric

I’m attracted to shiny things (I always thought my spirit bird was a pelican, not a crow!)

I think I was born too late and/or live in the wrong country.  I adore Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Ella and Etta, and Jazz (Miles is a favorite), wish people were courteous to each to each other, and am envious of countries like the Netherlands and their bicycling way of life, and Sweden’s environmental awareness.

I can’t change the world, but can change my world.  Mindful living is essential to me and I want to share my experiences of living a near zero waste lifestyle.

I’ve completed a half marathon!  Charlie would be amazed!

Creating is key to my happiness.  Hopefully that will one day include photography.  In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed painting and writing poetry.

I still miss Charlie every day, and hope he is proud of me.

So there you have it.  My life is completely different now that I’m on my own.  Sure, I still worry at times about living on one income and my surviving my olden days, but I’m happy.  I have Eleanor and Elliot to entertain me and share my life with, great friends, and a heart full of hope and discovery.  And who know’s what the future holds?

The one thing that I’m certain of, is that time is so precious.  I’m challenging myself to live boldly and without compromise.  I choose to be happy and to live my life on my terms.  When I fall, I will get up.  When I succeed, I will be grateful to the One who is my strength.  When I am afraid, I will remember I am a warrior.  And when my life ends, I will know it was lived.

Hello.  My name is Kelly and this is my life. And I’m just getting started.


The end of 2016, and all of 2017 was not kind to me.  I was lost and eventually lost everything.  My passion to create faded away.  Anxiety and depression became the norm.    Shunning social activities and other people was easier than pretending to be OK.  And then my husband suddenly died and my world was destroyed.  Everything I knew and loved was gone and I was shell-shocked and left standing in the ruin of my old life, with no idea how to continue on without the man of my dreams by my side.

It’s been over six months since Charlie died.  200 days of just . . . me.  Charlie was my best friend.  The love of my life.  My everything.  And we did everything together.  There was never Kelly without Chuck.  We went to work together, we went shopping together, we dreamed together.  And now, it’s just me.  I’m figuring out my new normal and how to deal with a grief that will never leave me.  I feel lost.   I cry a lot, usually in my car when no one can see me, or when memories creep in with the stillness of the night.  Some days I get angry and want to scream.  I can’t believe he’s gone.

One unexpected challenge I’m facing is my identity.  For the past several years, I was Kelly E Schultz, photographer.  I had the tag line Artist, Photographer, Cat Lover.  Now, I’m not sure who I am.  I have an extremely difficult time pursuing concert photography, because it was something I did with Chuck.  He was the one that would schedule my gigs and get my images in front of people.  Now, not only am I not interested in concert photography, I don’ t even know how to start it up again if I were.  In fact, I’m not really interested in photography at all in this moment of my life.  And it concerns me.  I don’t want to lose my gift, but I feel so lost without his guidance.  I love him and miss him so much.

These 200 days have been difficult for me, but I have amazing friends and family who are supporting me in many ways as I navigate my new normal.  I have a wonderful Church family, and a strong support system.  I am trying to be courageous and strong, and some days I actually smile.  It’s been a tough road with many heartbreaking revelations.  But I know Charlie would want me to live fearlessly.  I must have courage.

So who am I now?  The answer is more than a tag line.  I’m sure I’ll re-invent myself countless times like I have before.  My name is Kelly and I am a widow.  My name is Kelly and I will have courage.  My name is Kelly, and ‘Kelly’ means ‘Warrior Woman’.  My name is Kelly and I refuse to be defeated by my grief.




Meyer Malone


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Mourning 2

Meyer Malone 1999-2016

The day I’ve been dreading for the last several years has finally arrived. This morning, my beloved cat named Meyer Malone, died. He’s gone. My heart is broken.

Meyer was frankly the best cat in the world. He was spoilt rotten, mischevious, adorable, regal, demanding and my little boy. He was 17 years old and had a full life filled with love. He certainly received more kisses than my husband does!

Meyer came into our lives six months after my mother passed away in 1999. I don’t know if adopting him was a coping mechanism for my grief or a planned addition to our family, as we all ready had a cat named Molly Malone. Regardless of the circumstances, we adopted another tiny white kitten who had the same mother as Molly, but was a year younger. We called him her ‘Mini Me’ and named him Meyer.

People often ask us how we came up with the name Meyer, but anyone who is familiar with John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels should recognize it. Like his namesake, he became a legend.

Meyer had a large personality and a million nicknames. My favorite one for him was Boo, but he also answered to Short Stack, Little B and for unknown reasons Marvin. Meyer lived with his sister Molly until she suddenly passed away on Boxing Day.

Molly’s death was a surprise. She was in good health and was only six when she died. We found her curled up near the Christmas tree. Our vet said she must have had a heart condition that was undiagnosed and likely died in her sleep.

When she died, I was worried about Meyer. He had never been an only cat before and was only five years old. We didn’t know how to handle our own grief, let along his, and ended up adopting another adult female cat in February.

I will never forgive myself for how I introduced Meyer to the new cat we named Maggie. We thought a face to face introduction would be best but I didn’t anticipate Meyer mistaking Maggie for Molly. He saw a large fluffy white cat in front of him and happily trotted over to her, probably to say ‘Where have you been?’ However, at the last moment, he realized Maggie was not Molly and ran away and hid. It was the first time he broke my heart.

Maggie and Meyer eventually worked things out and became brother and sister. They endured two moves together and even though Meyer never snuggled with Maggie like he did with Molly, they would sleep near each other and sometimes even touch each other whilst sleeping.

Maggie was a beautiful long haired white cat with gorgeous green eyes. We think she was seven when we adopted her and she lived with him until she, too, suddenly died at home in 2013, following an infection. Once again, Meyer lost a sister and once again he was an only cat.

This time, Chuck and I thought long and hard about adopting another cat. Meyer was 14 years old and even though he still acted like a kitten at times, we weren’t sure if he could handle a kitten. We sensed he was lonely but we couldn’t tell if he was happy. In the end we decided to keep our hearts open and if another cat found us, we would consider adopting it. But I was adamant that I would not adopt another white male cat. Meyer was an original and I thought having a Mini Me of him would be disrespectful to his uniqueness. My husband was just as adamant that we would only have white cats. So we agreed that if we adopted another white cat, it would be a She.

A few months passed and we found ourselves at a local shelter. Chuck was looking at and older male white cat (that I already decided we wouldn’t adopt because he was a He and was White and was Older than Dirt). Thankfully, someone had already adopted the elder gentleman but just hadn’t taken him to his new home. Chuck was ready to leave when I spied a white cat with grey markings on its forehead. Closer inspection revealed the cat as a five year old He with the unfortunate name of Snowflake.

Chuck asked if I wanted to adopt Snowflake but not before pointing out that he was a He and was White. I said, no he’s Grey and he’s coming home with us. On the way home, we renamed him Travis McGee and to this day, I still refer to him as our Grey Cat.

This time, we kept the cats separate for several days and when they finally met each other, Meyer wasn’t impressed. But he was willing to share the house because he was the Best Cat in the World.

Travis and Meyer were hilarious together. Meyer was a small cat and when Travis realized that he had a forever home with food whenever he wanted it, he gained weight. So much weight that I gave him the nickname Lumpy. Meyer and Lumpy would fight at times but I think they generally liked each other. They had a very full three years together until today.

Meyer is gone. My sweet little boy passed away this morning with me and Chuck comforting him. He just turned 17 and this year we noticed that he was developing blindness and deafness. In the last couple of weeks, he lost a lot of weight and was becoming wobbly on his legs. In the end, he couldn’t support himself. I hope he didn’t suffer too much. I hope he realized how much he was loved.

Meyer was my constant companion for 17 years. I realized today that our relationship was the second longest continuous relationship I’ve had besides my relationship with Chuck (sorry, Dad and Bob – father and brother relationships don’t count). Sure, I’ve known people longer than I’ve had Meyer, but I saw him every day of his life. Our longest separation was when I moved ahead down to Nashville, and that was only for three weeks.

We had so much fun together. Almost every morning I asked him why he never learned how to make coffee and he was always willing to taste my food, especially if it was dessert. He didn’t really like traditional cat treats and preferred potato chips instead. He didn’t mind water and would often let his tail dip into my bath water while he balanced on the tub edge. He loved watching hockey and baseball and Modern Family. He even licensed out his name to Chuck when Chuck started Malone Entertainment back in Buffalo. Until about last year, he would always greet us at the door when we came home. The past few months, he always seemed happy to see us when we came home, even if it meant our entrance woke him up.

He had an adventurous life for an indoor cat. I remember the time he got stuck under the stairs, the time he got stuck behind a server, the time he caught a mouse only to let it escape inside our townhouse. The times he would climb up on top of the bookcases (which was forbidden, by the way) to sit next to Buddha. The times he would sit by me whilst I read and the times he walked over the keyboard whilst I wrote. He lived in NC, NY and TN two separate times. He tolerated trips in his carrier only if he could sing along to the radio. He loved boxes and laying on top of Wegmans shopping bags. Oh, and he jumped on Luke Bryan’s lap the first time he met him which surprised everyone because Meyer usually took time to warm up to men.

I believe that Meyer is now playing with his sisters in Heaven while my Mom and Chuck’s Mom share a pot of tea. In a few days, he’ll join his sisters on the Cat Shelf and will permanently sit between Molly and Buddha. In the meantime, Lumpy will be getting extra hugs and kisses, which I’m sure overjoys him.

Our home and lives are a little bit emptier now. The Malone era is over. Lumpy will be an only cat for the time being and we have no idea what to expect with that. We likely will eventually adopt another cat because we’ve always had two ever since 1998. But not a He. And not a solid white cat. Meyer was one of a kind.

I love you, my sweet boy. Thank you for a wonderful 17 years. I hope you enjoyed your time with me as much as I’ve enjoyed my time with you.


Molly and Meyer (as a kitten)


Molly and Meyer




Travis ‘Lumpy’ McGee aka the Grey Cat


The Finishing Touches


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My dresser had been stripped, primed and painted, but needed some finishing touches before I could call it complete. After I painted the dresser purple and black, I wanted to get some Very Cool Drawer Pulls because the original ones were Very Ugly.  But first, I wanted to change the drawer contact paper.

I’m not a fan of contact paper but I really didn’t like the current contact paper that was in the drawers.  Petite rose buds just didn’t work with the cool black and purple exterior.  Even though no one would know it was there, I wanted something different, something a little classy.  I found what I was looking for at the local hardware store – white contact paper with a black swirly design.

Contact paper before

Ugly Contact Paper

Contact paper after

Ooohh, so pretty!

I hate contact paper and realized that I would need at least one beer to properly install it in my four drawers.  I took careful measurements but applying it was still a nightmare.  Two beers later and lots of swearing my work was complete.   The bottom drawer has a few more bubbles and wrinkles than the upper drawers, but I can live with them.  The drawers looked great, but still needed hardware.

I thought black drawer pulls would look awesome on my dresser, especially cup pulls.  However, I discovered that the Very Ugly drawer pulls had a Very Inconvenient drill hole width of 4 inches. I began a search for Cool Black Cup Pulls, but discovered that the average width of both cup pulls and drawer pulls was about 3 inches.  The  3.5 inch selection was somewhat limited and a 4 inch selection was very rare, if found at all.  I thought about plugging the existing holes and drilling new ones with a 3 inch width, but I really didn’t want to be bothered.  I don’t have a drill (yet) and the thought of going through all that trouble for cup pulls that didn’t really knock my socks off didn’t interest me.  Don’t get me wrong, in my search for the perfect cup pulls, I found some lovely ones, but nothing that I felt was right for my dresser.

In the end, I thought I would just get some ornate drawer pulls and simply ‘double up’ on them by having four per drawer instead of the customary two.  I again had black pulls in mind and found the online selection of drawer pulls to be a little overwhelming.  There are so many choices and I began to think of other future projects just to incorporate the use of some of them that I really liked, but weren’t right for my dresser.  Finally, I found what I was looking for at hobbylobby.com.  Wicked Cool pewter Octopi was the perfect choice for my dresser, but they were a little expensive at $7.00 each and I would need 16 of them.  Even if I bought 8, the price was still over my budget and I would have to find 8 different pulls to go with them.   Reluctantly, I passed on them and continued my search.

The Octopi wouldn’t leave me alone, though, as I kept coming back to them.  In the end, even though they were expensive, I decided to treat myself to 8 of them, but only if I found another cool design to complement them.  What goes with octopi, black and purple, though?   I already decided that the octopi would be on the out most side of the dresser drawers so something smaller could work.  I looked at black knobs, multi colored knobs, crystal knobs until I finally found the perfect knob:  a glass skull head.

Crazy, I know.  But I knew the skulls and octopi would look wicked cool against the purple drawer.  Unfortunately, the skulls were $5.00 each and I would need 8 of them.  My perfect drawer hardware had quickly became the most expensive part of the dresser.  I knew I couldn’t justify spending $100 on drawer pulls, no matter how cool they were.  I decided to revisit the hunt for the perfect drawer pulls in a few days and tried to put the octopi and skulls out of my mind.

A few days later, I returned to hobbylobby.com and saw a joyous sight:  Drawer pulls were on sale!  I did some quick math and realized that I could get the octopi and the skulls for $3 each!!  That was well within my budget and I quickly ordered them.  They arrived today.

As soon as I unwrapped them, I went to work.  For an agonizing minute I thought the octopi screws were too big for the existing holes in my drawers, but they fit with a little encouragement.  The skull next to the octopus, on a purple background looked as awesome as I had hoped.  The only thing I need to fix when I get the right tool is the inside screw length.  The skull screw, especially, is a little long inside the drawer.  For now, I’ll just have to be careful not to snag my clothes.

Bad Ass Drawer Pulls

Skull and Octopus

Skull and Ocopus

Perfect Combo!

Poking Out

Careful with the long screw

So there you have it!  My flea market find $40 dresser with the ugly drawer handles has been transformed to an awesome purple and black dresser with bad ass drawer pulls.  I absolutely love it.

dreesser 2


dresser 4

Ugly Drawer Pulls

bad ass dresser

My New Dresser!

Stripped, Primed and Painted


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After buying 3Ms Safest Stripper, I carefully read the directions and applied it on the dresser, paying special attention to the grooves.  As the label said, the product didn’t have a strong odor and was safe to use indoors.  The cats were not interested in it at all (which was a small miracle!)

I left the product on longer than I should have because it dried out (don’t let that happen, otherwise somewhere a puppy dies).  Despite this, the product worked pretty well.  The outside sides were easier to strip but the panels were almost as hard to strip as the grooves.  Stripping it completely took a lot more time that I had planned and some elbow grease to boot.  I’m sure if I was more patient and used the Stripper as it should have been used (in small sections without letting it dry), it would have been an easier job for me.  But I’m a little stubborn and there was something strangely therapeutic about chipping off paint from a piece of furniture.

dresser 9

When my dresser was completely stripped, it was time to buy the paint.  I decided to go with royal purple with black trim.  As the project was a completely indoor project with cats, I didn’t want to use spray paint or have any noxious fumes.  We headed to Lowe’s and I told the Paint Guy what I needed and he pointed me to Valspar furniture paint.  I was a little hesitant about the color choices until he told me that I could probably use any Valspar color I wanted.  So for the next thirty minutes I tortured Husband into helping me decide between Blackest Night or Noir and Purple Majesty or Huckleberry.  I finally made my color decisions and Paint Guy complemented me on my ‘bold’ choices.  He also recommended using a primer base coat so the colors were uniformed.

When I got home, I started painting the primer on the drawers and dresser.  The primer dried very quickly (less than an hour) so I was able to paint the drawers, but waited on painting the dresser itself.

dresser 10

The drawer fronts was painted purple as were the top and side panels of the dresser.  The sides of each drawer was painted black.  It looked fierce!

The next day I started painting the dresser purple.  It was relatively easy because I didn’t have to be too mindful of lines and grooves because if I made a mistake, I knew I could paint over it with the black paint.  I ended up painting three coats of purple to get the royal purple color I wanted.

The trim was a little harder and needed a steady hand, which meant no beer whilst painting.  Husband thought I was crazy because I wanted the outside trim, the grooves and the inside panel grooves to be black.  I felt like a surgeon with my precision painting, especially on the inside panel grooves.  But the attention to detail paid off.  Two coats later and a couple of ‘tidy ups’, I have a bad ass purple and black dresser.  And praise Jesus my cats are still white!

dresser 11dresser 12dresser 13dresser 14

Now to find the perfect drawer pulls and for the final finishing touches.

To be continued . . .

Deceptive Drawers


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I started the stripping stage of my dresser, and began with the dresser drawers.  The old paint came off very easily in long strips without need for a commercial stripper. It reminded me unfrosting a cake.  Stripping the drawers was fast work and when I was done, I moved on to the top of the dresser.

The top required a little more elbow grease and a cold beer, but wasn’t too difficult,  I was lured into believing the sides of the dresser would be just as easy.  Maybe, I thought, I could skip a commercial stripper altogether, except for the trim and the front of the dresser, which had the most trim.

dresser 5

dresser 7

Boy was I wrong.

The sides were a nightmare.  The paint wouldn’t even flake no matter how much I scrapped and swore.  I had to break down and get a commercial stripper in order to complete the job.

I had a major concern about using a stripper.  I knew I could only work on my dresser after work and the weather forecast was calling for rain.  We don’t have a garage and working on it outside wasn’t an option because of the rain.  I had to do everything inside and needed to find a stripper that didn’t have toxic fumes that would harm my family.

Luckily, 3M makes a product called Safest Stripper.  It is a paste stripper that can be used indoor and does not have a strong odor.  It also promised to work quickly.  I picked up a bottle at the local hardware store and couldn’t wait to try it.

dresser 6

In the meantime, I decided on purple.

dresser 8

To be continued . . .

A New Project


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I’ve embarked on a new project – furniture restoration.  Granted, it isn’t photography, but as I call myself an artist, I thought it would be cool share my new project.

Earlier this Spring, Husband and I moved into a new place.  It’s an older home with lots of charm and potential and I decided I needed new furniture.

I hate shopping for furniture, because I can never find what I want.  Also, I tend to pinch pennies pretty tightly and can’t imagine spending $100 or more for a chair.  A chair!  However, I really wanted a new dresser so Husband and I went to the flea market with $200 in my pocket.  I wanted to find a dresser for myself, a dresser for Husband, and a dining chair.

Our first purchase was a tool cabinet that could be a dresser for Husband.  I bartered the price down to a reasonable $60 (though I probably could have gotten it for less if I was persistent).  After a thorough cleaning and a long drawn out fight with contact paper, the tool cabinet serves as a wonderful dresser.  I love the character of it.

Chuck Dresser

While I was looking around other stall, Husband spied a cola rack and thought it would make a perfect bakers rack for our small kitchen.  Though it wasn’t on the list, I really liked the rack and thought it would be a great piece for our kitchen and give us lots of storage space.  The asking price was $95 but after some negotiations, the price went down and I happily paid for it.

Bakers Rack

After I paid for it, though, I was a bit nervous.  I had less than $100 and still needed to find a dresser for myself and a dining chair.  We went from vendor to vendor and either I didn’t see anything I liked or the asking price was firm and very expensive.  Finally, towards the back of the flea market, I spied my dresser.

It was ugly, but had good bones.  Best of all, it was only $40.  I purchased it, but my mind was racing to figure out how I wanted to refurnish it.  The previous owner had sprayed painted it white and put some ugly, ugly drawer handles on it.  But I really liked the grooves and shape of it and decided that I would paint it, and paint the grooves black.  And definitely get better drawer handles.

dreesser 2dresser 3dresser 4

We brought everything home and I had to decide if I wanted to paint it navy blue with black trim, or royal purple with black trim.

~to be continued . . .

PS:  I also found the perfect dining chair on the way out.  $10.  Bam!

The Work Routine ~ Part III


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Post Production

I feel like I must explain before I go into my guidelines for Post Production that I rarely have an immediate deadline.  Again, these are my guidelines for my own work flow and should be treated as such.  Obviously, these guidelines can and should be tweaked to suit a deadline.  But here’s a general synopsis of what I do after a show.

1 ~  Take a step back.  After a concert, when I finally get home from a night of shooting, I won’t look at my work.  During the shoot, I’ll briefly check images for clarity, settings, etc, but after a concert I just want to get to bed.  At the very least, I’ll download the images.

2 ~  Downloading and organizing images.  I use Adobe to import and download my images from my camera’s SD card.  Each event gets its own folder and I’ll download them into Lightroom.  I don’t go through the images on my camera beforehand to delete poor images, everything gets saved and everything gets downloaded.

3 ~  Selecting images.  This is the hardest part of Post Production for me because I hate everything I shoot.  In fact, I’m going to make a Tshirt that says ‘I hate everything I shoot so you don’t have to’.  All kidding aside, selecting images gives me anxiety. Seriously, I’m incredibly hard on myself and very selective with what I approve.  The initial selecting process is simply looking through thumbprints of the concert in quick succession in the ‘Library’ tab in Lightroom.  If it grabs my attention, I’ll flag it.

Once an image passes my initial ‘Doesn’t Suck’ designation, I’ll look at the image in the ‘Develop’ tab in Lightroom.  If I’m still pleased with it, I’ll move on to . . . .

4 ~  Post-Production.  This step makes or breaks an image.   My take on post-production is ‘Less Is More’.  I’ll level photos, I’ll transfer to black and white, I’ll add contrast or adjust exposure.  I’ll even remove random spots, microphones, or even sax players (sorry Alex)!  But I’ll try to preserve the integrity of the image. 

My biggest complaint about concert photography is with over-produced images.  I believe the more an image is manipulated, the flatter it looks.  Sure, sharp images as ideal but occasionally, grain and movement adds to the moment.  To me, it looks more organic, more real. 

5 ~  Consider your audience.  Most of my jobs are for print and online magazines and I rarely know beforehand how my images are going to be used.  Sure, a cover is always great but sometimes my images are used as banners, sometimes cropped into perfect squares, sometimes used as is.  When selecting images, I try to be mindful of how the image may be used.  I always give photos that have ‘empty space’ in it which could be used for headlines.  If an image is cropped too tightly, it might not be usable for a cover or an article.

6 ~  Circle back for another look.  After a day or even a week has past, I’ll take another look at what I captured initially.  Sometimes, I’ll find a few shots that I overlooked that are actually pretty good.

7 ~  Sharing your work.  Finalized photos are imported to Dropbox for the publication.  From there, the photo editor takes over and my work is mostly done.

8 ~  Sharing your work on Social Media.  I believe that any of my photos that were taken on behalf of a publication, should be shared initially by the publication in question.  If I have access to their Social Media platforms, I’ll post them but if I don’t, I’ll wait until the images are published to post them on my social media platforms.  I think it shows respect to the publication that you, the photographer, are giving them ‘first dibs’ to share the image.  It shows professionalism that you are working with them and not using them to get into shows to advance your own career.  However, because hypocrisy is a great source of entertainment, if I have a fantastic photo that I want the world to see, I’ll post it on social media but will make sure to tag the publication.

It’s also important to be mindful of contracts.  If a photo contract specifically says, ‘photos are for publication only’, or something to that effect, then make sure you don’t breach the contract, by posting photos online.  If you don’t like something in a contract, don’t sign it. 

If I’m shooting an event for a band and not a publication, the Social Media guidelines change a little.  I’ll post as much as I can, making sure to tag the band members, the organization for the event and the venue.  Everything I post on Social Media is watermarked and low resolution.

9 ~  Final thoughts:  finding a balance.  Even though I suck at Social Media, it’s important to find a balance.  You want your work seen, but most people aren’t going to go through 30 or more photos of a concert you covered.  They just don’t have the attention span.  Also, don’t repost the same photos over and over.  I’ll do a #TBT photo or even a #MusicMonday photo, but it’s absurd to keep promoting the same shot over and over. 

Remember, Less is More.  Aim for a few high quality shots versus many average shots.  Don’t overcorrect or abuse post-production techniques.  Don’t tag everyone from the Record Label exec to the venue’s janitor in hopes of getting attention.  You want attention from your work, not from being an over-confident narcissist.

10 ~  Be grateful and gracious.  Lots of people have cameras.  Lots of people think because they have a camera they are a concert photographer.  Only a few people succeed in concert photography.  Be grateful for the opportunities you have a gracious under pressure or when situations don’t go according to plan.  People notice how you act both on the job and how you treat your images.  Being nice to people, whether you carry a camera or not.

There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed reading my work routine!  Feel free to share your thoughts with me.

The Work Routine ~ Part II


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Welcome to Part II of The Work Routine.  This part is all about the shoot.

The shoot obviously is the most important part for a concert photographer.  It is easily the most stressful, most fun and most challenging part for a photographer, too.  Thankfully, there are only two guidelines to remember.

1~  Don’t be an asshole.  I can’t stress this enough.  Be nice to everyone you meet at the shoot.  Be nice to the security guys, the ushers, the venue point person, other photographers and especially the concert patrons.  Someone is always watching you while you cover a show and how you behave will follow you for the rest of your career.  If you thought you would have the traditional first three songs but it turns into on the first 10 minutes (or less), don’t be an asshole and complain about it.  If a concert patron thinks you are making too much noise or are blocking their line of sight, don’t be a asshole and tell them to suck it up because you have a job to do.  If the venue point person tells you the shoot is from the soundboard when you were told earlier it was from the pit, don’t be an asshole and demand pit access.  Concert photography is full of constant change and you have to be able to adapt to the last minute changes.  Be nice to everyone you meet.  There are enough assholes in the music industry already.

2~  Don’t second guess yourself.  One of the first times I ever shot at Toronto’s historic Massey Hall was during a Wynton Marsalis concert.  It was me and two other photographers.  Both of them had more experience then me and certainly better camera equipment than me, and I was a little intimidated by them.  Our point person walked us into Massey Hall before the concert started and gave us shooting options for our shoot (I can’t remember if we had three songs or two).  The options were stage left, stage right and house center.  He said we probably had time to use two of the areas, but not all three.  All of us agreed to shoot house center for one song, but the other two wanted to shoot stage right while I wanted to shoot stage left.  The problem with shooting stage right was a lovely grand piano blocking most of the band.  The other two photographers didn’t seem to care about the grand piano and I got the impression that the point person wanted to keep us together.  I didn’t say anything and went along with the other two photographers.  Sure enough, I didn’t really capture anything from stage right because of the grand piano.  But neither did the other two, as I heard them complaining about the grand piano on the way out.

My point is, had I had more confidence in myself and spoken up, I would have probably gotten more usable images of Wynton Marsalis.  But I was shy, insecure and intimidated and paid the price.  I learned a valuable lesson that night – don’t second guess yourself.

It’s easy to second guess yourself, especially if there are a lot of other photographers with you at the shoot.  It’s natural to wonder, ‘what settings are they using?’ or ‘what do they see that I don’t?’  But just because someone has better equipment than you doesn’t make them a better photographer. I’ve learned a lot from fellow photographers in the pit by asking about settings and camera equipment.  But it is so important to have confidence in your unique vision and abilities.  That’s when you succeed.