|Salt-N-Pepa, Radio City Music Hall, New York City, 1994|
By David Corio
The policy for live shows at most large venues since the 1980s allows photographers with press passes to shoot the first three songs at the front of the stage or in the aisles and then must leave the venue. This is primarily as the record companies and publicists don't want their artists to be captured looking sweaty and with their hair out of place. Of course it also takes away from the real atmosphere of a concert as you can guarantee it will be the fourth song when the artist gets into their groove.
When shooting concerts with swirling, flashing lights and, particularly with black musicians, getting the best from film is very important. In order to get the best exposure, I always have the camera exposure setting on manual over-ride. I'll normally uprate the film to 800 or 1600 ASA and with black and white film you can always compensate in the darkroom and the added graininess gives a more contrasty gritty image that I prefer as well.
Henri Cartier-Bresson's term "The Decisive Moment" is one that most photographers will be familiar with. It is a great feeling when you know you have got the picture after pressing the shutter. Then of course you hope that it is in focus and that the exposure is correct! That was the case with this image. It was difficult to get Salt, Pepa and DJ Spinderella all in one frame as Spinderella was normally behind the decks. Fortunately, during the third number she came to the front and the trio did some choreographed moves with their male dancers. It meant being patient and hoping to get all of their heads visible and, despite a lot of dry ice, I knew that I had my shot once I pressed the shutter.