…the beautiful art of sound.

You and me in the photobooth, waiting for the flash, close the curtain urgently

I’d totally forgotten about my plight with these shortbread cookies until I was cleaning out the memory card and found photos which my mum took of them. These were the nicest batch, and dare I say, my batch that I’d mixed from scratched and made myself. I know, I know, shortbread is freaking easy to make, but it was more the fact that I actually went to the effort of making them that’s really worth something – I’m really lazy and generally don’t enjoy much baking/cooking, etc…

Anyway, the story behind these Christmas shortbread cookies was that I’d made them to give to friends who I simply couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for. The problem was, at some point, mum took over mixing the ingredients, and she’d doubled all the ingredients except the flour! But being the amazing cook she is (and me the shitty one), she didn’t like the idea of me entertaining the idea that perhaps she’d done something wrong in the process, as the mix was just faaar too soft to even cut up! Thus began the tedious task of refrigerating them back and forth until I had finally shaped them all and baked them. It wasn’t until much later that she suddenly had a lightbulb moment and went “OH…” haha.

Those who managed to eat some in the end said they were good anyway; but I felt a little bad that there were many friends I’d failed to deliver to, just because we were never home when I was free or had the shortbread with me!

In other matters, tomorrow I’m driving down with a friend, my sister and her friend to Raglan for a couple of nights. We’ll be camping at the local holiday park, and who knows, I might even brave it out and attempt to surf. Maybe. I’ve always wished I could surf… although unfortunately the weather at the moment isn’t looking too fantastic, I’m just hoping it clears up soon, but it’s a guaranteed good trip in general! In fact, this is shaping up to be an exciting week overall: Tues-Thurs is Raglan, Thursday night I will be photographing the Peaches gig (I’m actually quite gutted that I’m missing out on The Mint Chicks because it’s on the same night), and Friday will entail about 14hours of photographing Auckland’s Big Day Out. Not to mention I can’t get out of shifts at work for both Saturday and Sunday…

To be honest, I just can’t wait to see what whacky shots we come up with on the trip and how good proper stage lighting will make my gig photos; so please, please, please all have your fingers and toes crossed for me that my sore throat gets better ASAP!

Hello, how are you?

My grandmother flew down from Taiwan a week ago and is spending Christmas with us this year; so in between my erratic Christmas shifts and gigs, my nights have been slotted full of silly banter whilst playing Rummikub. Work has been more stressful as of late, as the mall’s been far busier than usual (and I only get called into work on the hectic days). According to today’s newspaper front page, Christmas sales have been down significantly since last year, but at work it seems to be that most people are resorting to cafes to catch up with people, instead of actually spending money on presents for one another.

I’ve been stuck on the till for somewhere between 15-20 hours in the past 4 days alone, and so many things are really making my nerves tick. You know when you enter a store and the sales assistant greets you and ask, “Hi, how are you?” and if they linger for a response you usually respond with “good thanks” and keep browsing? Or, if they’re awful at their job and completely ingenuine, they’ll simply ask and move on before you respond… that’s all very well because it seems to be the routine for sales people. But what I truly cannot wrap my head around is about the 2/5 customers that approach me at the till and go “Hi how are you I’d like a flat white… etc…” – the painful lack of punctuation reflecting the exact way they speak – not even pausing to make their words a question or proper sentence. WHY do they open their sentences with “how are you” without really even making that a question?! Furthermore, even when you totally disregard the fact that it’s a completely redund
ant thing to say, it also makes me feel like a right prick because I’m the one who is supposed to be asking such things, and I don’t know whether or not I should even acknowledged that they’d said it at all?! On top of this, I think the usual 80% of people who say medium when I ask whether they’d like a small or large coffee (whilst pointing to the small, then large cup), has grown into about 90%. Is it really so hard to figure out that a middle-sized cup will not miraculously appear out of thin air, just because many womens’ conscience (or stupidity) seems much more satisfied when they think that they’re not getting a “large”. I give up, I truly do.

I’ve got so many more pet peeves accumulated from work over the past year, but it’s all been heightened over the last few days. It didn’t help that on Saturday morning I started work at 7am following a very late night out in town watching Yacht, who were supported by a crazy set by The Sneaks, and the alien-headed Kazaam Blam. The mere three-hour nap I took before rolling out of bed to get to work on time was simply not enough to refresh myself from having to get quite pushy and block the view of other people in order to get a decent shot of Yacht; their dance moves and craziness kind od reminded me of Karen O, but definitely nowhere as wild. Overall it was a good show, but it was a shame that my friend and I couldn’t stay until the very end of it, just because we were both sooo exhausted from work and Saturday the following would be much worse and busier.

I’ve picked out some photos from Yacht, click here for the full set:

and I want to walk around with you

It’s taken me two days to recuperate from my excitement-filled 18-hour day out on Tuesday: I’d spent the day lounging in the sun at the beach, followed by one of the best gigs of this year –Animal Collective playing at the Powerstation (scroll down for gig details).

My Tuesday kicked off bright and early with a wake-up txt message from my friend making sure that I had indeed gotten out of bed by 7.40am – which I personally thought was a little over-the-top, but considering for the entire year I’d rolled out of bed at 7.55am for school on the days which I didn’t have training nor rehearsal… it seemed understandable that they wanted to make sure the driver was awake.

Nine of us decided to head up north to the Shakespear Regional Park, and set up site for the day on Te Haruhi Bay. Ironically the best part about the whole trip for me (asides from how early they’d made the departure time) was the drive up north. Good friends, decent music, great views through the sunnies and an effortless swift drive for just over an hour was definitely my cup of tea. The biggest obstacle of the day was when the people in my car disagreed with those in the other car as to where we wanted to set our towels down for the day. I’d personally vouched for the sand and didn’t understand why we’d drive all the way to a nice beach with decent, soft sand (Auckland is full of overly shelly beaches that don’t really have decent sand) only to spend the day sitting on the grass; but eventually we compromised, moved around a bit and got the best of both worlds when we threw a frisbee around on the sand and I even attempted to use a soft bat on a foam ball. It either went too far or in whacky directions or both – the foam ball didn’t stand a chance against the wind!

At some point in the afternoon after several hours of swimming, lying in the sun with music and pigging out on buns and a roast chicken that we’d bought from Countdown, we decided that we’d bury Euan in the sand. Well, actually he’d volunteered himself, and made sure that we made the sand wet and compact enough that he couldn’t escape. And soon, what do you know, one of the boys suggested (how typical) to make the buried-Euan into a giant penis. I felt somewhat guilty for having encouraged the use of dried seaweeds as pubs around his head, followed by Michael’s cam-whoring antics as the owner of the giant penis once he saw me whip my camera out!

The real fun began when I got to surpass having my bag checked at the door of the Powerstation simply because I was being given a media photography pass and got to dart through the door. My obligatory drink of a Monteith’s Original led to my vow of never ever drinking beer out of a plastic cup again, regardless of how good and cold the beer was. It just tasted vile… with a slight tinge of that smell of plastic which mixes in with your taste buds at the back of your throat. Nasty. $8 for plastic beer? No thank you. The bartender looked at me with great distaste when I asked if he could just give me the bottle – I imagined in my head that he was thinking something along the lines of “Didn’t you get the memo? No glass bottles in this venue!”, good lord. Not surprisingly the rest of the evening only went uphill from there – Bachelorette’s set (or what I caught of it) was enjoyable albeit the couple of technical difficulties which caused her to even restart a song. Boy was I wrong when I’d expected to see a duo on stage – obviously my friend had misled my beliefs to this “opening band” idea, and apparently I’d also missed her best song. Nonetheless, thanks to the mellow tone of Bachelorette and the use of my camera, I easily settled myself in a comfortable, just off-centre spot in the front row. I’m pretty sure I was allowed, if not supposed to be in the pit in front of the railing, but I simply didn’t want to have to leave the front after 3 songs – which turned out to be a priceless decision.

In a strange way, I’m grateful for the photography for 3-songs-only rule, as it meant I was forced to set my camera aside and fully throw myself into enjoying the show. Otherwise, I know I would’ve been far too torn between thrashing around during the set or staying affixed behind my camera. I applaud them for their set list, especially with slotting in tracks from their latest album evenly throughout the set – opening with In the Flowers, ending the encore with My Girls, with an extended “just a sec more in my… beeeeeed” from Panda Bear nicely placed in the middle. Pure magic. For quite a few of my shots I’d purposely used a slower shutter speed and aperture to capture the atmosphere and buzzy movement of it all.

Here’s my favourite, followed by some highlights (click here for full set):

Tell me where it hurts, amnesia

I’m just going to add this at the top of this post, since I’m lazy: but how the heck did i forget to mention that i got accepted into jazz school?!! I’m so excited, this means I don’t have to fall back on doing law (it sounds a bit backwards, I know), but it’s what I wanted.

I usually take a lot of joy in photographing gigs, especially the really challenging ones in some stupidly dark venue, with rugged band boys that like to move around far too much – but last night was a totally different story. For some reason, despite being a Saturday night, I just wanted to curl up at home and stay that way. It didn’t help that I’d developed a headache, then shown up only to discovered that the “doors open” time had been postponed by an hour (thankfully I always show up very late anyway), but it still pissed me off. To add to this, as I was getting stamped off the doorlist, the promoter/organiser of the gig tells me that no flash photography is allowed. This is usually music to my ears (no pun intended), as it means no one else should be annoyingly flashing also, except that the only other time I had been to the venue, the band had been lit from the back of the stage – silhouettes get old. Quickly.

Lo’ and behold, my worst fears had been confirmed – the stage was indeed lit from behind, and very dimly so, might I add. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I simply thought the first band was rubbish… and faaar too loud. I’d forgotten my earplugs. And in my attempt to photograph with as much light source as possible, I had to be stuck right next to the stack of speakers. Great. I think the only highlight of my night was the fact that the 2nd supporting band had greatly improved since the last time I saw them at their EP release a few months ago, and I actually thoroughly enjoyed their set last night, despite the literal headache plus the one of trying to find some damn light!

Sometimes, I feel like all my photos could end up in one big blur of the same thing. I don’t want to become one of those perfect photographers that has perfect lighting in each shot, with the musicians all in their standard stances and poses of playing their instruments… I try to capture some essence of the moment – something that is only there for that flicker of a second and will never happen again. Even throughout my daily excursions I have this really bad habit with looking at everything twice, or for too long; it’s because I think I will never see it again, which is true depending on if you look at it in the (somewhat) pessimistic way that I do. So i hope these aren’t boring.

Here are some of the pics from last night, the rest are all here:
My favourite is actually the first picture, a reflection of the sky tower that i saw in a puddle whilst waiting for doors to open.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments letting me know about problems regarding my comment form, the gravatar appearance, etc… i should get around to fixing it soon, hopefully along with a new theme.

When our palms meet it feels like symmetry

On Thursday night I went to the prettiest album release concert ever – Teacups , a friends band, released their first album, Forest Fiction . They’d chosen the Hopetoun Alpha as their venue, and decorated the place with fairy lights and Christmas trees. I’ve inserted some below, but for the full set of photos, go here .

I’d drafted up this post like 10 hours ago and completely forgotten about it until now (3am)… between then and now I’ve been at a friend’s sister’s 21st, where 3 of us (piano, drums and me on bass) were hired to play jazz for a couple of hours as it was a garden party. Although, it was all a bit fail for about half an hour because it started raining on us and we had to rearrange everything to get us some shelter! For some reason I found the set way more relaxing and easier than the one I did on Wednesday, at a dinner event where we had piano, trumpet and bass – we couldn’t have drums because it was a tiny venue and it would’ve been too loud – but Liz (coincidentally, from Teacups) couldn’t play trumpet for us tonight since she had a gig in town already. I’m not sure, but I think the fact that I got to sit on the amp instead of having to stand with my 5kg bass weighing down on my left shoulder helped a great deal; as well has having drums do half my job for me, meaning much less brain activity required, haha.