In the 2 1/2 years before the arrival of the pandemic, I was shooting live performance events at the House of Mood, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, cabaret, pole dancing, and burlesque.
Unfortunately, the most lovely proprietor, Jennifer Kennedy, or as the audience knew her, Ms. Maple Devine, has decided to close the operation; sadly, all good things must end.
The House of Mood was the most challenging venue to photograph; most of the show was a floor performance where the performers could engage with the audience; it was dimly lit for ambiance, and the spotlights were small, which meant that the performers would be moving in and out of light.
Many of the images in this gallery were shot at ISO6400; this gives the photos a gritty presentation that fits the subject matter well.
I used a Canon EOS 1DX paired with a combination of either an EF L 70mm to 200mm f/2.8, EF L 135mm f/2.0, or the excellent EF L 85mm f/1.2.
In many cases, f/2.8 was just too slow (it did not let in enough light), which resulted in the majority of the images being photographed with the EF 85mm f/1.2. There are always trade-offs, and while the 85mm was fast, it was slow to focus, especially in the dimly lit conditions but to be fair, all of my lenses struggled to focus. During wedding receptions, I use a focusing light to permit my lenses to focus, but during a live performance, you have to work with what you’ve got.
I also used lower shutter speeds to let in a little more light, but that also was a trade-off as I would miss fast action; ugh!
After I photographed my first show – The Spy Who Loved Me – on the 14th of April 2018, Jennifer asked me if I could shoot more shows. The subject matter was visually awesome, but the fact was that lighting was a struggle even with the very best equipment. I had such a difficult time with consistency, but I knew that I had to, I had to master the lighting.
And so, from that show to the start of the pandemic, I would shoot a show every two to three months with the simple goal of trying to make myself a better photographer; if I could shoot performance art here, I could anywhere!
I hope you enjoy this selection of images.