Six Pounds of Camera


I had a vague sense of how Keegan and I would shoot the performance, but the specifics were unclear as I drew a mental map of the room and considered multiple angles and the limits of our gear. We stood off to the side against the old paneled walls, the room loud with the electric energy of fifty conversations between a hundred and fifty guests, our two tripods behind us, and I knelt down to look at the lenses and cameras and think for a bit.

I was anxious to have a totally workable plan already finalized. But I just didn’t. Instead, I talked through a few ideas, asking for Keegan’s advice. Despite the fact that I was in charge, ultimately he had far more experience shooting than I did.

We worked the problem, and eventually, the collection of cameras and lenses and positions sorted themselves into a simple and good plan. We’d take opposite sides of the stage, and he’d shoot with a monopod because all of the other lenses were unstabilized, and I’d take the larger lens that I was the most familiar with, and would take the brunt of the physical labor.

Which, after the second song, full of just the best lighting, I remembered again how difficult it was to hold six pounds of camera in front of my body continually, with little movement and no breaks and a precise grip along two points, while simultaneously rotating a focus ring to pull focus.


The Green Room


Dan called me, and after a long unexpected conversation about his interest in writing publicly and how that was met inside of himself with a stronger force of resistance mired in the competitive nature of social media, his scientific profession, and how everything is fucked, we eventually landed back on the original purpose — an invitation up to Berkeley at the last minute to shoot his band at a good venue. “Brand new venue,” he said, “with great lighting.”

Twenty-four hours later, all of that great lighting collected, I sat on one sofa with a camera pointed across the green room as the two bandmates rehearsed and recorded a half-dozen versions of a message that would announce their remix album release sometime in the fall. There was a freshly-packed glass pipe and lighter next to the lead singer on the sofa, out of frame.  I nearly considered keeping it in the frame — it was a reggae band, after all.

No longer on stage, the lead singer Michael fumbled a bit over the words they were writing into the air. But he kept at it, holding onto his energy between his outstretched hands despite the occasional blank spots and brick walls of recorded speech. He kept wanting November to be October. November was too far away.

The keyboardist, my friend Dan though, dang. It was as if he was November. He’d been sitting very quietly, nodding, in agreement and making comments and suggestions without too much demanding, as he normally seemed to do. But after he clipped the lapel microphone on and slipped the cable underneath his shirt, he spoke one seemingly perfect paragraph of speech into the camera, with a coherence and emotional cadence that I knew he was capable of, but still completely surprised me. He’d managed the whole thing just right there, straight in my direction, with the camera between us rolling, just perfectly on the first take.

The lead singer turned to him, equally impressed, surprised and perhaps more than a little envious. Was it just luck? I had Dan do another take, not because we needed it, just out of curiosity. It was even better than the first.

Maybe this was a bit of selective evidence with some confirmation bias, but yes, I thought, he totally should write.







Other Names

With height, survived the dawns in which the deer broke their fasting.

Then stood between the light and the trees.

Under a shadow of heartbeats.

With chemistry, as if illuminated by dyes and magnetism before the neurosurgery.

Bloom, temporary as everything else, all at once.

Like an Annie Dillard eclipse.

Like a marriage, but perhaps more like a kiss.