Saturday night was the most challenging and fun event that I have ever photographed. The name of it is Life in Color. It’s a massive concert that includes dj’s, confetti, and paint. Gallons upon gallons of paint. The audience quite literally begged for it, chanting, “Paint!”, over and over throughout the night. The show began with crew members spraying small amount of paint at audience members. As the night went on, small paint guns turned into buckets to be aimed at the participants. At 9 p.m. an hour-long countdown began on giant video screens onstage. The crowd anticipated the end of the countdown while dancing to music and playing in the amount of paint already covering the audience.
Towards the end of the countdown, I decided to climb up onto one of the wheeled cases that they keep the lights in. I wanted to get higher up so that I could photograph whatever was supposed to happen when the timer hit zero. I had some idea, but I was not expecting quite what happened. Two gigantic confetti canons went off, shaking the case that I was on and covering the audience in paper. Pieces flew from one side of the front barricade to the other and probably 8 feet back into the audience. It was just a giant white cloud and it lingered in the air for quite a few seconds. The sound was deafening and certainly made me jump.
The front of the stage was also armed with about six silver paint canons. I was actually told to stay clear of the cannons because one of the crewmembers had “seen cameras get blasted to bits” by the amount of pressure the cannons release when they go off. It can destroy a camera? I wasn’t going to be taking any chances with my skull. Trust me, I stayed clear! The onslaught of paint continued throughout the entire event. People were covered from head to toe. Clothes were drenched. One girl even pulled me to the side and asked me if I had anything she could wipe her eyes with. Unfortunately, I did not.
The most difficult part of photographing the concert was how incredibly dark it was. I was dealing with stage light and black light that kept changing every few seconds throughout the night. I had to use my flash. I’m glad I took the chance to practice with my off camera flash. It was also difficult to photograph because I was standing in a small area in order to avoid the canons and pyrotechnics behind me. None of the crewmembers were all that sure of when everything was supposed to go off, so I wasn’t going to take any chances.
I took about 800 photos, which is actually quite a few for me for an event. There were just so many interesting opportunities to shoot like people getting hit with paint guns, people crowd surfing, and just the general reaction to the paint. When I left I was almost completely unscathed. Except for drips of paint on my arms and a brand new pink highlight in my hair, I didn’t even need to shower immediately upon getting out of the concert. I was able to brush out my hair and use a washcloth to get the paint off of my arms. I was lucky. My camera survived mostly as well. I used a Ziploc bag to cover it up in case I was attacked. The only paint I’ve noticed is a little bit on my flash and maybe a dot or two on the body of my camera. My strap is pretty dirty too, but I really don’t mind. It means I’ve been on adventures! My shoes were the biggest casualty. Still perfectly wearable but I look like I like in a paintball park.
It’s interesting how I can experience things I never would have if I didn’t work for the paper. I considered getting a ticket to the event, but they were sold out by the time I thought to get one. I was very lucky to get to be a part of the experience and I’m very happy with some of my photos. I’m sort of my proud of my use of flash and I only hope to get stronger in shooting low light events like concerts.