Like in real estate, location is what it is all about in photography. Often I am given about two minutes when I walk into a venue or hotel to find a location to shoot a portrait. Sometimes it just comes to me.
Walking around on stage during a television taping with Count Basie, I looked down into the piano and thought, “Wow, that looks cool!” I picked up my camera and shot a few frames. One of the best selling photos I have ever taken!
I walked into the Riviera Theater to do a photo shoot with a new artist named Sheryl Crow. I was leaning on some ropes used for stage sets during her sound check, and thought, “That would be a good background!” I set up some lights and waited for her to finish sound check, brought her over and shot for about two minutes. Done.
Sometimes the pressure is pretty intense. Every year at Farm Aid, someone comes up to me in the morning and says, “After the press conference, wrangle the four board members )Neil Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews) and get them in one place for a photo. YIKES! I have to find a location in the shade so no one is squinting, and drag them there before they can get away to go to their dressing rooms. And then I have to get them to all pay attention! Not easy, but it kind of makes the day for me. If that shot happens, the rest of the day is easy.
About Paul Natkin
Paul Natkin learned photography in the trenches, working with his father, the team photographer of the Chicago Bulls. He shot sports in the Chicago area for five years before he discovered music photography in 1976. Since then, he has photographed most of the major music stars of the last half of the 20th century, shooting album covers for artists such as Ozzy Osbourne and Johnny Winter and magazine covers for Newsweek (Bruce Springsteen), Ebony (Tina Turner), People (Prince), and music magazines around the world. See his work online at natkin.net.