First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition / by Jordan Hefler

First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler

So if you have been living under a rock and haven't seen my 58208 posts about it, I had an exhibition for my music photography and it went sooo well! I literally posted about this show an obnoxious amount for fear of nobody showing up and it ended up being about three times as packed as the photos you'll see below (which was awesome but also stressful but mostly awesome!)

First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler
First Three, No Flash | Music Photography Exhibition by Jordan Hefler

Here's a little run down if you weren't able to make it to the show or don't know anything about it:

It happened at Perkins Rowe, a beautiful and hoppin local outdoor retail area in Baton Rouge where I typically stroll around and go shopping at stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and J Crew. Basically one of their spaces has been empty for a while and instead of waiting for someone to lease it they started to utilize it for pop up events. They asked me to do a pop up art show there a few months ago and it got my wheels turning- I figured this would be a good time to do a show since I haven't done one in 4 years! I decided to do an exhibition of my favorite concert photos I've taken in the past 3-4 years and title the show "First Three, No Flash." More about what that means in a second.

First Three, No Flash| Music Photography Exhibition at Perkins Rowe by Jordan Hefler
Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Because it's a space originally intended for retail, there are areas on the wall with hanging rods and shelving units. My family got together and helped me drill holes in a bunch of scratched records and we put my logos on them and strung them from fishing line and tinsel to help cover those spots on the wall. This ended up being a perfect backdrop for photos and also added some fun shiny branding to the space!

Drilling holes through records for decorations
Hang records and CDs from fishing line in front of tinsel for a fun photo backdrop

The reception took place from 7-10pm on June 1st and it was a success! My mom and aunt bartended, my boyfriend helped stock the beer, my dad was the merch guy, and my brother used his truck to help move everything. Tin Roof graciously donated beer, Jay Ducote donated some of his Blanc du Bois white wine, and Capital City Records gave me some scratched records to use as decorations. We even had a rum drink we named "Mosh Pit Punch" but unfortunately spelled Pineapple wrong on the sign LOL which you can see in the photos below. Last but not least, my FAVORITE local artist Thomas Wimberly asked to do some painting renditions inspired by my music photography...obviously I said YES and he made some amazing pieces to put up next to my work!

Paintings by Thomas Wimberly inspired by photography of Jordan Hefler | First Three, No Flash
Thomas Wimberly and Jordan Hefler at the First Three, No Flash exhibition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thomas Wimberly and Jordan Hefler at the First Three, No Flash exhibition in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

One of my favorite things I got to do for the show was make a playlist of songs only from artists I've photographed and having it play over the speaker as people looked at the work. This wasn't that hard for me because I typically try to photograph artists that I listen to in the first place! I tried to exclude the heavy heavy heavy music and really tried to find edited versions of the rap songs haha (it was a public event, I didn't want to get too crazy!) You can follow that playlist on Spotify here!

BIG thanks to my friend Eric Garcia for offering to come take some photos at the start of my opening reception! It really was surreal to see my work printed large scale and have a ton of people come out to view it. My artist statement was printed on the wall next to the images, and you can read it below

ABOUT FIRST THREE NO FLASH

There’s nothing quite like photographing live music. Lights are flashing making it hard to meter your shot, crowd surfers are falling on top of you and your gear, the guitarist on stage is thrashing around, security guards are yelling at you to see your photo pass…. you’re completely at the mercy of what is happening in front of you as well as your surroundings and access limitations. Lighting is unpredictable, the fans are unpredictable, and most of all the performances are unpredictable. It’s an experience that is truly out of your control as a photographer. The adrenaline rush is insane as you are trying to get all of your shots in a short window of time for your assignment, while usually sharing a small space with other photographers competing for the same thing. Your time in the photo pit is intimate without being intimate at all. Being an artist documenting other artists is surreal, frustrating, rewarding, and liberating all at the same time.

"First Three, No Flash" is the industry standard rule for photographing concerts, meaning credentialed photographers can generally only photograph the first three songs from a specific area and utilize what light is available. These limitations affect what type of lenses you bring, how many cameras you use, and how you approach your assignment. This rule is widely understood by the music industry and generally applies to the press. There are exceptions and your access is dependent on who hired you, what the venue is, if you know the band, etc. but you’re generally only allowed in the photo pit or soundboard area for the first 15 or so minutes. That time goes by fast when you’re wrestling with all of the variables at hand. The “First Three, No Flash” rule is said to have caught on in the 80’s:

“Paul Natkin, one of Chicago’s best concert photographers stated in an interview that the rule started in the 80’s with bands playing in New York. During concerts, the photographers, only having 36 shots available per reel of film became concerned with the lighting and started using flash to light up the artists on stage. This caused many artists, such as Bruce Springsteen a bit of a headache when fifty or so photographers started flashing him as he walked on stage. The Boss became concerned with this practice and said something needed to be done. According to Paul, someone came up with the idea of just letting the photographers shoot for the first fifteen minutes, or first three songs as the average time per song is around five minutes. It was around this time when MTV appeared on our television sets and artists wanted to look perfect on stage photos as they did in their music videos.” -Fred van Leeuwen, Fstoppers.com

I have always been drawn to old film photos of Led Zeppelin concerts in the 70’s and have gotten such emotional reactions to images of young screaming girls chasing The Beatles in the 60’s. I grew up thinking how important it was that someone had captured those moments, and dreamt of being able to do the same with the bands that I loved. With a photography degree in 2014 and no idea what to do with it, I quickly got burned out from photographing everything people told me I should do…until I dove head first into music photography. 

This exhibition highlights the concert photography opportunities I have had over the past 3-4 years, as well as artwork by Thomas Wimberly inspired by these photos. All of the songs playing over the speaker are from bands and artists that I’ve photographed, many of which you will see on the walls today. Most images on display were photographed during the first three songs without flash.

The past few years have been SO much more work than you could ever imagine, but gave me experiences that have intensified my passion and appreciation for music, photography, and the art of the fleeting moment in general. Photographing live music is hands down my favorite, and I am eager to see what opportunities in the industry are next.

I just want to reiterate how thankful I am for anybody who helped support this show by donating something, helping me set up, letting me hang flyers in their store, or buying anything! I sold a ton of merch (if you didn't get a chance to scoop something I have stuff in my online store here) and am hoping to do more pop up shops like this in the future. I also unveiled two new products at the show- the Thank You Tee and the Do What You Want Record Bowls!

Do What You Want "Thank You" Tee
20.00
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Do What You Want Record Bowl
8.00
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