Florida Concert Photographer Robert Millward: Interview and Photos

I’ve known Robert Millward since 1984.  We became instant friends at Camp Wewa in Apopka, Florida.  Over the years, we still ran into each other.  About two years ago, I searched him up on Facebook.  Little did I know about his excellent skills in concert photography.  I didn’t know about it until he started posting concert pics of KISS and Motley Crue on Facebook.

Recently, I decided to interview my talented friend.

Can you explain your history with photography? 

I have been dabbling in photography since my Dad gave me a camera when I was 10.  Later in life, I made a brief attempt at getting into wedding photography and video, but soon discovered it did not satisfy my creative side at all.  I gained a lot of enjoyment creating videos via NLE video editing, but not much else.  From here I dove into underwater photography and video.  With a small camcorder in Ikelight housing, and my Nikonos V still camera, I was quite successful shooting dives for group and individuals in various Florida dive destinations.  The challenge of underwater photography was the most rewarding part of it, and you never knew what you would see on any dive.  As a dive master, I was able to offer my services for several years. However, real life caught up and my ability to dive every weekend soon disappeared along with my modest business.  I have always loved art of all kinds, and music has always been something very important to me.  I cannot honestly say how I got back into shooting, and specifically concerts.  I think my love of music simply pushed me in that direction. Once friends saw several shows I shot, I had the fever to be creative again.

About your camera equipment, you used a NEX camera, didn’t you?  Can you explain what that is and why you chose to use it? 

I use two cameras.  My pocket concert camera is a Sony NEX-7 with the standard 18 to 55mm lens.  I also have an 85mm F1.8 Prime lens that just takes amazing shots.  My main camera, and the camera I use for shows I have been invited to shoot is the Canon 5D Mark III.  My decision on the Sony was simple; it’s a fantastic camera that fits nicely into cargo shorts, making it highly convenient.  The 5D lured me in with its full frame sensor and 22mp resolution.  The amount of available features combined with low noise at high ISO made it the perfect choice for me.

You use a Canon now, right? 

Correct.  I shoot concerts around town for a promoter locally with the 5D.  The Sony NEX-7 I refer to as my “fan” camera since I am attending those shows as a paying member of the audience.

You’re another photographer I know that avoids flash during low light.  Why is that?

For me personally, I thrive on the challenge of getting a decent exposure and creating an amazing shot without the flash.  I think as well that forcing myself to shoot without flash, especially in places like The Haven, will ultimately give me a greater working knowledge of exposure control. And produce shots that more accurately tell the story of the concert as it is seen.  Most bands and fans alike do not want to be at a concert getting blinded every time a photo is taken.  I don’t personally even use the AF assist light so I don’t risk making either the artist or the fans feel that I have tainted the performance or experience.

Who are your influences?

I have a few people I really enjoy their work, but mostly I just like what is pleasing to my eye no matter who took the picture.  I love Ansel Adams; he is truly the master of exposure.  I like Michael van Gelder, who is a current professional concert photographer and someone I am studying under currently.  I also enjoy the work of David Doubilet.  He has some absolutely amazing underwater work!

What are your views on the current photography scene?

This is a tricky question.  I don’t know if I can answer in a completely positive manner.  The deeper I get into the local scene, the more resistance I feel from others willing to share ideas and discoveries.  There seems to be a tremendous amount of local photographers in Orlando who really believe they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It’s a little discouraging as an artist to feel the community is elitist.  Luckily not everyone is like that.

Living in Central Florida, what are your views on the Orlando art scene?

I love the Orlando art scene right now.  I think it is the best it has ever been.  So much talent in the area now. And more importantly, has been given so many avenues to display and profit from their work!  For me, a work of art just has to be pleasing to me.  I don’t care if it was created by someone famous or a 10 year old.  If I like it, that’s all that matters to me.

Some photographers still use film.  What are your views on that?

I think film is still the best form of photography, but we are getting close to that no longer being the case.  DSLR’s have given us the ability to “doodle” with photos and not worry about the cost of film.  The ability to immediately review your shots to make adjustments and check for composition is just amazing.  Although I love the look of real film, I wish I had shot digital underwater stills instead of film.

Does equipment really matters when it comes to photography?

Yes and no.  I have seen some of the most amazing photos shot with the cheapest cameras imaginable. However, I do feel strongly the glass is the key to great digital photography outside of the photographer’s creative instincts and knowledge.

You told me some funny stories about “pro” photographers.  Tell me and the readers about the two stories you recently told me.

I hate being negative, but these were mind boggling to me.  I was told by a pro that I am not an artist because I do not love ALL types of photography.  Sorry man…I have seen the sun set in the ocean all my life; I don’t need to take a picture of it.  I also had a seasoned professional tell me “good luck” using a 50mm f1.8 Prime lens at a small concert venue.  I have to assume he was trying to derail me.  The band I shot literally freaked out they liked the photos so much.  The lens was absolutely perfect for the low light and small space.  Another reason why the only critic I need is myself and the customer.

Robert’s website is Red Metal Photography

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Night Sailing Lake Monroe Located in Sanford, Florida

Some years back, I joined friends for an evening sailboat ride in Lake Monroe, a body of water existing in Sanford, Florida.  Two people dressed as pirates.  Sanford’s annual Pirates of the Saint Juans Festival was approaching.  I was to photograph people for advertisement purposes, advertisement for the pirate fest. For this, I carried my Canon Rebel DSLR.

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Seven Reasons The Photographer Didn’t Upload Your Photo

The photographer asked to photograph you for a website.  You agreed.  Afterwards, the photographer handed you a card showing the website’s Internet address.

Sometime during the week, you visited the website.  You saw the event you attended.  Yet, you didn’t see yourself.  What happened, you ask?   I shall give seven possible explanations.

1. The photographer may not be in charge of the website.  The person in charge of the website owns final say on what gets uploaded and what doesn’t.  This person’s reasons range from the smart to the downright ridiculous.

2. You pissed off the photographer. This rarely happens.  Yet, some folks behavior annoys others so damned bad, the photographer just might be spiteful enough to delete your photo from his or her camera.  Or see to it that the photo never gets uploaded.

3. Someone photo-bombed your photo.  Many times this happens.  After taking your photo, the photographer realizes too late someone was making funny faces behind you in the background, or some other nonsense.

One time, in a nightclub photo, I noticed too late a dude’s hand reaching out in front of a young lady’s private part.

4. The photo doesn’t fit the website’s guidelines.  That obscene gesture you thought was cool to flash in the photo?  Some websites don’t allow that.

Some guidelines are outright stupid, tho.  I’ve read about websites not wanting to include people because of looks. They prefer spotlighting the beautiful people. This usually includes no “big women”. Also, some websites are racist. To please bigots, a website may limit the photos of certain racial groups.  Or they just might not upload photos containing these groups at all.

5. The photographer was looking out for your best interest.  In the pic, your eyes might have been closed. Your pants zipper may have been down.  Your toupee may have been falling off. A white powdery substance might be showing under your nose.  Looking out for your best interest, the photographer sees to it that the photos are never uploaded.

6. Someone you posed with asked for the photo to be removed.  The photo may have already been uploaded.  Yet, someone you posed with may start worrying the photo could ruin their career. Or they find the photo unflattering. So, they asked the website to take it down.  Usually, this happens to me on Facebook, especially after the person has been tagged.  Yet, I can imagine this happening with websites.

7. The photo was crap. Usually, this is the main reason a photo don’t get uploaded.  The pic may have appeared too fuzzy and out of focus.  Also, some photos are overexposed and have some people appearing extremely white, so white a person can barely see details in the face.

Things like this are why some photographers take more than one pic.  Yet, sometimes, even that don’t do the job.  The second and third photo may come out looking like crap also.

 

So, these are the main possible reasons your photo didn’t get uploaded.  Out of all seven, the more likeliest reason is the photo being crap.

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Six Central Florida Water Fountains at Night

Some of my best times for using my camera phone is at night.  I enjoy the challenge of finding different light sources besides the flash on my camera.  The following photos are of various water fountains around Central Florida, all photographed at night with my iPhone.

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11 Tips for Nightclub Photography

For over a decade, I photographed evening events.  Yet, this year marks my first year as a nightclub photographer.  The following tips involve what I’ve learned so far about photographing in nightclubs.

1.    Definitely use a DSLR camera:  With a DSLR you have better control over exposure.  Because lighting varies in a nightclub, having control over the exposure is a must.

2.    Carry a wide-angle lens or a telephoto lens containing wide-angle: I hate photographing full body shots.  Yet, patrons ask for them.  This is one reason I use mostly an 18mm to 35mm lens.  Plus as I plan on photographing maybe four people, six more people would sometimes get into the shot, another reason to carry a wide-angle lens.

3.    Use an external flash:  Three reasons exist for why I avoid on-camera flash.  For one, the camera takes forever to focus. Then, during focus, it gives out a burst.  Folks think the burst is the real flash.

Second reason I avoid on-camera flash relates to flash sucking up the camera’s battery power.  This explains the need for using a flash containing its own power source.

Third reason I avoid on-camera flash is because external flash is more powerful.  An on-camera flash cannot light up an area that even the cheapest external flash can do.

4.    Ignore the words of critics who hate flash: The problem with flash is people’s overreliance on it.  Too many times images and image details are washed out because of flash.

Also, like photographer Marcus Adkins said, flash can be annoying at times.  Many musicians hate flash going off in their face as they try to perform.

Yet, this does not mean a photographer should frown on using flash.   During my nights, I attempt gaining ambient light. Why gain ambient light?  For one, I love seeing the nightclub lights in my photos.  Plus I enjoy seeing background.  Using flash the typical way won’t gain this for me.

To gain ambient light, one can set the ISO to 400 or 800 when using flash.   Background can be achieved by slowing the shutter speed.  I usually lower mine to 1/10, the lowest I can hold the camera without gaining fuzzy images due to camera shake and movement of the person posing.  Notice I use the word “posing”.  Unless, a photographer is going for an artistic look, I wouldn’t recommend slowing the shutter speed for moving people.

Many photographers bounce the flash’s light.  For this, many use a white bounce card.  Here’s my humble opinion.  Bouncing light works best inside small buildings, or in areas where walls are nearby.  In a huge nightclub, bouncing light doesn’t always work well.

5.    Learn the nightclub’s photography guidelines and stick to them:  More than likely, the photographer’s photos are uploaded to the nightclub’s website.    Seeing folks enjoying themselves encourages more people to attend the nightclub…hopefully.  One of my guidelines is photographing people in the VIP section, a reasonable guideline because VIP photos advertise a service the nightclub offers.
Also, owning a nightclub requires owners to be image cautious.  (Luckily, I don’t work for a place that is image cautious for superficial reasons.)   The wrong photo may invite unnecessary trouble, even a visit from the local authorities.

6.    Carry a thick skin and hold extreme patience:  Twice on two different nights, an incident involved a confrontation from some dude.  One night, a guy asked was I photographing candid shots of his niece.  I wasn’t and I proved it to him by showing images on my camera. On another night, as I photographed dancing people, some guy took it upon himself in letting me know some folks don’t like being photographed.  Both carried a nasty attitude.  (Oh yea, Mr. Informer later posed with his friends for me.)

With me being six foot and weighing 236 pounds, the uncle protecting his niece would have gotten stomped if things got physical between him and me.  A short guy talking trash is the last thing I needed.  Yet, a fight would have gotten me fired.  Plus later on, outside the nightclub, the uncle could have shot me dead. Me avoiding a conflict was a wise choice.

Another thing on thick skin and patience is dealing with rejection.  After asking can you photograph them, some folks will definitely say no.  Like Mr. Informer said earlier, some people just flat out don’t like being photographed. It really isn’t personal.  They just don’t like being photographed. After photographing in bars, photographing house parties and even photographing weddings, I receive far more rejections in nightclubs.

Okay, some rejection is personal.  Through no fault of your own, some patrons just will not like you for whatever reason.  Is that your problem to worry about?  No, just move on to the next patron.

Right along with bars, nightclubs attract the worst kinds of people: troublemakers, phonies, gold diggers, etc.  In order to deal with these people, you definitely should carry a thick skin and hold extreme patience.

7.    Inform patrons the reason you’re photographing them:  Some people worry about where their photos may wind up.  In this day and age, you really can’t blame them.  Usually, when I inform people the photos are going on the nightclub’s website, they usually allow me to photograph them.

8.    Vary the shots:  Not only do I photograph portraits, I also photograph scenery and candid shots.  Once,  the nightclub asked me to photograph patrons waiting in long lines.  Plus some of my shots involving dancing crowds under nightclub lights are displayed in front of the nightclub.

Besides the patrons, I also photograph the DJs, bartenders and other nightclub staff.

9.    Leave shyness at home:  Actually, this is a tip I personally remind myself of every time I photograph the nightclub.   Understand, this is the first time I’m photographing night events sober.  A nice Long Island Iced Tea usually works wonders in getting rid of shyness.  At the nightclub, the only thing I drink is Sprite.

How can I be shy as I attempt photographing nightclub people?  I can’t.  When it comes to approaching people I don’t know, anxieties have to be ignored, especially if a potential photo shot looks promising.

10.    Remember what I tell you about photographing women:  Being a heterosexual male, I enjoy photographing attractive women.  On some nightclub websites, attractive women are all you see.  Yet, remember this: Sometimes, attractive women hang-out with not-so-attractive women.  When it comes to getting a photograph, the attractive woman wants her not-so-attractive friend in the photo with her.  Okay, in some cases, the woman’s friend could be outright ugly.

Usually, I go ahead and take the picture.

Believe it or not, when it comes to views on the website, some photos of attractive women don’t get the many views one would think.  Sometimes, photos of not so-attractive-women get more views.

Personally, I believe always placing the beautiful people on a website leads to false advertisement.  Expecting to see lots and lots of beautiful women like the ones he saw on the website, some douche may be in for a rude awakening when he actually comes to the club.

11.    Edit the photos:  Like I mentioned earlier, the photos usually wind up on a website.  A photographer should at least attempt presenting the photos in the best possible way.  Exposure is the last thing I’m worried about.  Yet, I don’t want to be known as someone who puts out bad product, either.  How can someone know if my product is any good?  By looking at my work on the nightclub’s website.

I truly enjoy nightclub photography.  Being a night person, it’s the perfect photo gig.  Also,  I meet interesting characters, people you never forget.   For the most post part, the nightclub vibe is always positive.

Hopefully, this blog helps photographers who are entering the exciting world of nightclub photography.

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Central Florida Photographer Marcus Adkins: Interview and Photos

Back in 2010, during a DJ gig I performed for a local artist, I first met Marcus Adkins at Orlando’s The Peacock Room.  His wonderful camera showed every detail of my face, details showing how much weight I recently gained at the time.

At my request, Mr. Adkins granted me an interview.

 

Can you explain your history with photography?

I have had a camera with me most of the time for the last 10 years. Friends and family were my first subjects, and have remained my favorite subjects to photograph (esp Candid Photographs).

When I get a chance, I love to take trips to some of Florida’s beautiful coastlines and natural preserves to capture Landscape Photographs.

I started spending time looking for Art shows in Orlando for inspiration.  Over time, I met a lot of local artists who became close friends. Their work, and more and more they themselves, became very inspiring to me.

What is your usual camera equipment?

I use a Canon 7D with a 50mm lens most of the time.  I also use a super wide 10-22mm for Landscapes.

What subjects do you choose to photograph?

Mostly nouns.

When it comes to low light, I notice you usually avoid using flash.  Why is that? Or am I getting the wrong impression?

I don’t care for what direct flash looks like. It’s cold and doesn’t capture the moment as well as available light. I can take more Candid Photographs without interrupting the moment with flash and calling attention to myself.

Who are your influences?

Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, many more…

What are your views on the current photography scene?

The Photography community here in Orlando is getting better. We have been home to a World-Class Photography exhibit called “SNAP” for the last four years. Now they are opening up a year round space called “SNAP Space” in The Cameo Theater, one of the only Art-Deco buildings in Downtown Orlando.

Living in Central Florida, what are your views on the Orlando art scene?

The Art community in Orlando is very interesting, there are some very interesting people doing some very cool things. Orlando is a young, small city that has a long way to go with our Art community. The great thing is there are more and more galleries opening up and exposing more talents to more people.

Some photographers still use film.  What are your views on that?

Film is cool.  However, I have always shot digital. It’s all I really know.
I want to start experimenting with Wet Plate Photography.

Does equipment really matters when it comes to photography?

No. However, depending on what you are Photographing, the right equipment makes things go smoother.

You got a show coming up soon.  Give the readers and me some details about that.  This is your first show, right?

My first solo show was at Crooked Bayou back in April 2010. I also had a solo show at a place called The Bar in Lake Mary,Florida.

I showed work at two group shows at SUbstance: “Arugula” and ” Mamona”.  At the Mamona show, I also assisted with the Curating of the Photography.

I currently have work hanging at OLV Cafe and Sandwich Bar. Also, I have an upcoming show at The Falcon on September 28th.  I’ll be showing My Portrait Project titled “Our Red Chair Project”.  I have been Photographing local Artists in a series with an old rocking chair someone threw out.  Each artist has painted a spot red and signed it.
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A Dark Scary Alley in Orlando

One night, as I walked down Orlando’s busy Mills Avenue, I noticed a lighted, thin alley.  Thinking of the creative things I can do with the image, I photographed the alley with my iPhone.

I later edited the image in a phone app called Pixlr Express.

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Creepy Halloween Props at Orlando’s Peacock Room

Every year, creepy Halloween props go up in The Peacock Room, a Central Florida bar located near Downtown Orlando’s edge.

David Rich, one of the two owners, gave the low-down on the props.

“They are made by a man that works for a local theme park. They were made for us. We own them. And they are not ‘leftovers’ from a theme park exhibit.

“I have always considered myself the king of Halloween. I wanted Carmen’s (co-owner) and my bar to reflect that. Wow! I soon realized my theme park guy was the true king!

“Custom-made. Cold storage because they are made of latex. I come up with concept. The designer and I meet in June for this year’s event. About 25 percent of our props stay in hiatus every year because of space restraint.”

I photographed the following pics with my Canon Rebel DSLR. Unlike other photos, I placed my camera on a cheap tripod. I wasn’t using flash. Without flash, the camera attempts gathering enough light for exposure. This can take up to more than one minute, too much time to hold a camera and not get a blurred image. So, that’s why I used a tripod.

All DSLRs have something called ISO. It’s a leftover from film cameras when referring to a camera’s speed. The higher the ISO, the more light. The more light, the stronger possibility of me being able to the hold the camera without a tripod. Yet, there’s a drawback. High ISOs cause grain. So, that’s what I still kept using a tripod and put the camera on a low ISO for better photo detail.

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Orlando Rules Halloween (includes photos to prove it)

In his Orlando Weekly article, Seth Kubersky had it right. When it comes to Halloween, Orlando rules. This is the same city that hosts Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event attracting visitors from all over the country. I think Halloween Horror Nights starts the first week of October and lasts until the first week of November.

The following are Halloween pics I took of Downtown Orlando over the years. Some were taken with my Canon Rebel 2000 film camera. Others were taken with my Canon Rebel DSLR. The rest were taken with my Olympus Camedia digital camera.

Hopefully, you now see why Orlando rules Halloween.

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Sepia Tone Photos from a Western Theme Party

Last year, I DJed a Halloween house party hosted by friends.   The theme was western.

With my Canon Rebel, I photographed the event.

Nothing against the ghosts and goblins who showed up. Yet, I decided to get creative with the western folks. Someone suggested sepia tone photos. In Photoshop Elements, I did just that with the western folks. I learned it from an online article.

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Downtown Orlando’s Cairo

Cairo existed in Downtown Orlando, Florida.

Being over thirty, I considered myself somewhat too old to be hanging here.  Yet, from 2001 to 2002, I showed up anyway.

I really didn’t know if cameras were allowed or not.  Yet, I wasn’t taking any chances on finding out.  So, I sneaked a camera in anyway, a small compact film camera.  (A year later, someone broke into my car and stole that camera.)

Three performance spots existed in Cairo. On the first spot, DJs played the current hits. The other two performance spots existed upstairs.  My friend DJ Bonilla spun in one of them. There he played older hits.

Outside on the rooftop, reggae bands played.  Unfortunately, I never photographed them.

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Rivership Barbara Lee of Sanford, Florida

Lake Monroe exists in Sanford, Florida. Many times when I visit Lake Monroe, I would come across Rivership Barbara Lee, a boat owned by St. Johns Rivership Co.

Hosting live entertainment and serving food, the boat leaves Lake Monroe and travels upstream on the St. John’s river. According to the rivership’s website, the schedule is Wednesdays to Sundays. From Wednesday to Saturday, the boat leaves Lake Monroe at 11 AM. On Sundays, it leaves at 12 PM.

I had never been on Rivership Barbara Lee. I always either see it docked or cruising the riverfront.

On different days, the following photos were taken with my iPhone.

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A Charismatic Young Woman Outside Orlando’s Will’s Pub

One night outside Orlando’s Will’s Pub, I was heading towards the entrance.  I really had no plans to go inside.  I was going to exchange a few friendly words with the door person, my friend Heather.  Before you go inside, you come across Heather first.

Suddenly, a charismatic young lady exited Will’s.  Because I couldn’t stop watching her, I decided to photograph her backside with my iPhone.

Normally, I don’t photograph booty with my iPhone.  The risk of getting my ass kicked by some woman’s butch girlfriend is too high.  Yet, because I couldn’t resist, I photographed the young lady’s backside anyway.

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Political Words on a Condom Vending Machine

In the bathroom at Wallys (located in Orlando), I spotted these beautiful words on a condom vending machine: No War but Class War!

When it comes to spreading a message, I guess a bathroom would be one of the best choices, especially with all the traffic a bar’s bathroom receives every day and every night.

Fascinated, I photographed the political words with my iPhone.   As usual, I avoided flash and photographed using the already available light.

 

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An Alice in Wonderland Costume Event in Sanford, Florida

Back in April 2010, Little Fish-Huge Pond hosted an Alice in Wonderland event.  Little Fish-Huge Pond exists in Sanford, a forty-five minute drive away from Orlando, Florida.

For those that don’t know, the original name for Lewis Caroll’s book is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Stage, film and television shortened it to the name most people recognize.

I photographed the following pics with my Canon Rebel DSLR.

In 2012, Little Fish moved to another Downtown Sanford location.  Plus the place still hosts costumed theme events.

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