Week’s best, Feb. 20-26

Glenn Donnellan talked with Rowan County High School Junior Chelsea Mays as Logan Dollarhide of Letcher Co. warmed up backstage at the Celebration of Music in West Liberty.

So this feature is going to be a little exercise in self discipline. Sometimes I get a little hung up on having to have a reason to shoot, like a Herald-Leader assignment, a client or something at MaxPres, and I can forget to just go work with the camera – play, grow, discover. So Rich, your challenge is every week you’ve got to post something here that you think is your best work of the week, meaning Sunday through Saturday. I don’t want the thread of this post to have images that look the same week after week or come from the same impetus. But I do want them to be images that I will be proud to say, like the kid at the end of X-Files episodes, “I made this.”

As weeks go for starting this post, it was not the greatest. Last week was just weird and very day-job intensive, so I didn’t get much chance to really play with the camera.

But I did work with it, and here’s what came into play with the image above: I was doing one-man-band coverage of a really cool event in West Liberty. A National Symphony Orchestra musician was coming in to do a little musical exchange with students who play traditional mountain music.  As the event transitioned from the presentation by the National Symphony’s Glenn Donnellan to performances by the student musicians, I continued shooting the students in performance. But there are moments as a journalist, whether you are writing or shooting, you sometimes say, “I’m not getting what I came for,” and I wasn’t, just hanging in the audience. I noticed that after Donnellan had sat in with some of the students for one number, he’d disappeared backstage. So I snuck around and found him peering out the stage door at student players and talking shop with them as they came off the stage. That’s the flavor I wanted, and what I felt like I got in the above photo of Donnellan chatting up a young mandolin player and singer after her performance. Click here for a slideshow from the event.

Now, if I had whipped out my camera off stage and started shooting this person who lives in my house getting ready to gig with her BFF at Common Grounds open mike night, I probably would have been wearing her acoustic guitar. This was personal, and I was obviously not on the job. But when they took the stage, the camera came out. Common Grounds at night can be kind of harrowing to shoot in – about as much light as a mousehole. But I dig grainy black and white, largely from old rock ‘n’ roll photos. So while my final set of pics from this shoot included some realistic and desaturated color, I took a couple shots like the one below and goosed the contrast and grain in post.

Common Grounds Coffee House open mike night, Feb. 21, 2011.

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