Singer/songwriter/excellent guitarist, Sean Taylor, was back in the area on Friday appearing once again at The Mill Sessions.
For those of you with good memories, you may recall I photographed him last year (and for those that don’t, here’s the link - Sean Taylor and the Mill Sessions). And he and his manager liked the photos so much, they were used for his new album, Love Against Death.
So with Sean back for another performance, it seemed liked a good opportunity to take a few more shots.
This time he arrived earlier in the day, so rather than rushing to get a shot in just before the gig started, I went over to the house he was staying at around mid afternoon.
I took a portable backdrop and lighting equipment with me and set about getting a good headshot.
What became apparent almost immediately, though, was he was not feeling particularly comfortable while I was taking the photos. Most people aren’t in front of the camera, so a lot of my time is spent helping people to relax in the unnatural setting of someone pointing a large lens at them and clicking.
However, for Sean it was more to do with the fact he didn’t have hold of his guitar. While I was playing with the lighting and checking the connection of the camera to the laptop, he just sat and played.
Catching him immersed in his own world of music felt much more authentic, so for the next shots in front of the lights he had his guitar with him.
Of course as soon as he had the guitar in his hands he started playing again, which, as anyone who has seen him play live will know, is completely mesmerising.
The idea of photographing against a neutral backdrop is it makes it easier to manipulate the background later in post-production. But as I clicked away, I realised pulling back to include the lights and surrounds looked more interesting. Revealing the stage set seemed more in keeping with the lack of falseness or pretension you feel when he plays.
And as he continued to play, I felt like I was getting a personal concert. There was no one else about to enjoy the way his fingers move around that guitar and the soulful mood of his voice. So after confirming it was OK with him, I flipped the camera into video mode and recorded Sean singing “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”
Maggie didn’t get to see Sean Taylor when he played last year, but has been thoroughly enjoying his albums since I came home that night singing his praises. So on Friday evening we made sure we had a babysitter on hand and Maggie came along to The Mill with me, where we were both just blown away by his performance.
With the camera on my knee, I recorded him singing “Coal Not Dole” – my favourite track off his new album. Unfortunately the light was really low so the visual quality is not very good, however the sound is good enough to get a sense of just why you have to see this guy live.