Travelling light…with a light!

This is a follow up from my previous post regarding traveling light.

A recent visit to Barcelona left me thinking I should have brought more lenses with me.

After asking what the best set up is for a photographer to travel light, a few people have suggested a 35mm lens for street style photography and it is looking increasingly like a prime 35 is going to find its way into my kit bag.

However, sometimes its about taking an image that is further away and needing at least a 200mm focal length.

I also found that in some places I wished I’d had a tripod. Huh! I actually took one away with me but then I didn’t want to carry it around everywhere.

So moving on from the holiday snaps to gig photography. When I read about concert photography it seems to me that the ideal set up is two cameras with two different focal length lenses. After all there are numerous reasons you don’t really want to be changing lenses in front of a stage.

At gigs the light ranges from less than ideal to total crap and in many mid to large sized venues the general rule is “Three songs – No flash”. Non the less I have learned a valuable lesson…… Take a bloody flash with you!

When do you get invited back stage to hang out with a band?

When do you get an opportunity to photograph a band getting ready back stage?

When do you get a chance to get a good back stage portrait?

Not often but it can and did happen…. The Adicts are a punk band that have been around for years. I am in my mid 40s and I remember some of their songs since my late-ish teenage years.

I’ve always said that until I started learning to play bass and guitar that I was blinkered in my music taste and preferred old ska, two tone and the more heavy punk bands such as The Anti-Nowhere and so on.

I only really knew The Adicts from songs on the radio, friends mix tapes (Mix Tapes a thing of the past!) and one or two compilation albums. I liked their stuff but unfortunately they were never on my radar as a band I had to see.

I say unfortunately because I have missed out on years of great showmanship. A friend recently asked me to go and see them at The 100 club in London but I couldn’t make it. So I first watched them perform live in Berlin this year and was blown away. Musically tight, a bunch of lads on stage looking like they were loving every minute of it and visually…. How do I describe them visually?

A mix of clockwork orange and the joker, with a hint of mardi gras they were colorful and theatrical. Maybe it would be best described as comedia dell’arte.

I didn’t take many photos because I was so distracted I just wanted to watch the show unfold. Simply Brilliant!

I’ve been keeping an eye out for them performing in London since that first live show… Nothing.

So, my wife and I had some time off, we had plans to see a bit more of Germany at sometime and The Adicts were playing in Wiesbaden. That was it. We didn’t need another reason, tickets booked and off we went.

The venue was heaving and I had no chance of making my way along the front of the stage to try and get any images. As with the previous gig, the lively crowed were all singing along and the show was spectacularly spectacular.

There was of course the added bonus of being invited back stage with permission to take some images….. Great but guess what? I was travelling light with no bloody flash!!!!!

I took a handful of images back stage but the light was so dim it required a high ISO setting which left the images extremely noisy. Some could be saved with a quick black and white conversion but others will require a bit more practice with the post processing fine tuning.

I managed to get a few reasonable shots of the gig but it was difficult not to put the camera down and go and join in the fun with the audience. I have to say that I will definitely be seeing The Adicts perform again and they are at the top of my list of bands as a “Must See Band”.

Back stage with The Adicts. The only half decent light was over a broken seat.

Back stage with The Adicts. The only half decent light was over a broken seat.

IMG_3686 IMG_3690 IMG_3703 IMG_3704 IMG_3891 IMG_4328

On a personal note, they couldn’t have been more friendly, welcoming and engaging.

Sincere and warm hearted thanks to Monkey and the rest of The Adicts for their hospitality.

(Gents, if you happen to see this and you need a UK based photographer….)

Lesson learned: Travel light but take a light!

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James.


  1. Flash or not Jimmy, I think you managed to get some good atmosphere in these shots. I actually like the darker ones, especially the B+W head shot, but that’s just my preference. Adjusting flash exposure in these conditions can be very tricky as well. How about an 85mm f1.8? Expensive, but good in low light, and doubles as a superb portrait lens. Under £300 at Jessops.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. I have an 85mm and I get some fantastic portraits with it. But some venues are funny about cameras with changeable lenses. Some even get funny if its a bridge camera so it can be a bit of a risk.

      I’ve not been turned away yet but I do know someone who was refused entry even though the venue website had nothing about cameras.

      I took along and used a tamron 24-70 mm. As this was the most flexible lens I had with me in Germany.

      I know I could have got some really nice back stage shots using a bounced flash. Gutted!

      But hey you never know if they see my work and like it, they may get in contact if the do a London gig?

      As always, thanks for your input and I am looking into getting a prime 35 in the January sales.



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