Austin Pysch Fest began in 2008 as a way to honor the psychedelic rock scene of Austin. It was created and organized by The Reverberation Appreciation Society. The three-day festival this year was held at Emo’s East, Beauty Ballroom and Red 7, and included over 50 bands.
I was asked by the Emo’s East blog to attend Austin Pysch Fest and shoot the festival using analogue cameras. Shooting live music is nothing new and neither is shooting analogue but combining the two was a slightly new pairing for me. I tend to use my DSLR when capturing a live show due to the low light and ever moving musicians so from the start I knew I had a good challenge.
Emo’s East gave me a press pass for the 28th and the 29th of April, which allowed me entrance to the hustle and bustle of the press pit. The rules are that you have the first three songs to get what you need and no flashes are allowed. The “no flash” rule is what made me a bit frantic. I had chosen to bring with me my Diana F +, La Sardina, 210 Fuji Instax, and a Horizon S3 u500. Out of all those cameras, the Horizon is the one that can handle low light the best with its f/2.8 lens. I started off playing by the rules and not using my flash. I set my Sardina to bulb mode and stabilized it on the stage and I would also watch the lights carefully and wait until they were at their brightest point. I quickly realized though that I wasn’t going to be able to survive the entire festival without a flash. I took my chances and turned on my Fritz the Blitz flash and started popping it off and to my surprise no one bothered to tell me to turn it off. This took a lot of stress off my shoulders.
After resolving the flash issue there was still the time limit of only three songs. Of course I didn’t want to spend the majority of the time waiting for that perfect shot but I also didn’t want to blow through film and waste any shots. I also wanted to be able to rotate through the cameras I had during those three songs which added to the time pressure I was under. Knowing what kind of photo each camera takes helped with deciding on which one was best for the time being. If the whole band was spread across the stage, I chose my Horizon, if there was someone right in front of me I would use my Instax or Diana F +, and then the wide angle and powerful flash of the Sardina helped me when I couldn’t be right up on the stage.
It was interesting being a part of the photo pit. The rock music photography scene nowadays is overrun by digital cameras and here I am with my multitude of analogue cameras hanging off of me. And also every time I entered the pit, I was surrounded by photographers all looking at the backs of the cameras and sorting through all their photos after they had just taken them. The rules of Lomography were definitely on my mind the entire weekend. For example in this case, Rules #8 and #9 “You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film or afterwards either”. Then Rule #6 “Don’t think” and Rule #7 “Be fast” were also a big part of my thought process.
At the end of the weekend, I had definitely learned how to operate at a faster pace level with my cameras. I learned to adjust to the ever-changing lighting situations and to act quickly. At first I was a tad bit nervous working for someone else with the uncertainties of film but I realized that I really do trust analogue cameras and that they are reliable and will not fail me. So what started off as a hectic analogue weekend turned into a fabulous learning experience and created memorable images of an Austin tradition.