For Drew Gurian, it’s not just rock and roll – it’s what he does for a living. Though he doesn’t currently play in a rock band (He was a drummer in a Philadelphia-based rock band for almost seven years), he’s made a name for himself photographing many well-known bands on the road as well as in the studio.
Based in New York City, a town in which if you specialize in portraiture you better have a specialty and be good at it, Drew Gurian’s niche for the last decade has been in the music and entertainment industry.
Backstage portrait of ‘Soulive’, a NYC-based soul/funk band
(Nikon D800, 24-70 f2.8 lens, Elinchrom Ranger, Elinchrom 74″ Octabank, triggered by a PocketWizard Plus II)
To date Drew has photographed over 300 artists and musicians on and off-stage for a variety of editorial and commercial clients including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Red Bull. His work has also appeared in PDN, Billboard, Bass Player, Kerrang!, USA Today, and other domestic and international publications as a contracted photographer for the Associated Press.
‘Pete Francis’, Solo Artist & former member of ‘Dispatch’
(Leica M Type 240, 35mm f/2 lens, Nikon SB900 Speedlight, Lastolite 24″ Joe McNally Ezybox, PocketWizard Plus II)
More than a stage shooter, many of Drew Gurian’s best images were captured in studio settings or outdoors under controlled lighting conditions. Even when photographing live performances, Gurian takes the time and effort to make sure the lights are just right and everything goes as planned.
Dubai recording artist ‘Fatiniza’
(Leica M Monochrom, 35mm f/2 lens, Nikon SB900 Speedlight, Lastolite 24″ Joe McNally Ezybox, PocketWizard Plus II)
Capturing the action from more than one angle at a live event requires planning and experience, and after a five-year stint as first assistant to world-renowned photographer Joe McNally, Drew has learned a thing or two about getting the job done under the most challenging conditions. (He once shot a studio portrait of a major rock band in 18-seconds flat!)
‘DJ Jay Daniel’, Brooklyn, New York
(Leica M Type 240, 35mm f/2 lens, Nikon SB900 Speedlight, Westcott shoot-through umbrella, PocketWizard Plus II)
Gurian is personable, which enables him to better connect with his subjects and develop their trust, which goes a long way when you shoot portraits for a living. This comfort level is reflected in many of the casual and more formal portraits in his portfolio.
Depending on the assignment, Gurian’s choice of lights range from Nikon Speedlights to Rosco LEDs, to Profoto and Elinchrom studio lights. Same can be said for his camera choices, which are currently the Leica M (Type 240) rangefinder, and Nikon’s D4 and D800. Regardless of which lights and cameras he’s using, Drew Gurian always packs his PocketWizard Plus IIs and Plus IIIs.
Unlike press photographers who are typically restricted to shooting the first three songs from the photo pit, Drew strives for full access to the venue, which enables him to secure secondary cameras to one or more positions above, to the side, or anywhere around the stage for that matter.Time permitting, his unlimited access makes it possible to test his lights and cameras before the lights dim and the show begins.
The three images below show Gurian setting up during a 2011 Dispatch Reunion Tour show. In addition to matching Nikon D3s bodies at his side in the photo pit, he also secured a remote camera onto a vertical lighting truss off to the right side of the stage to simultaneously capture secondary wide-field images of the action. To ensure all three cameras worked in concert with one another, each were equipped with PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers.
Securing remote cameras in place at one of the stops on the 2011 Dispatch Reunion Tour.
(Nikon D3s, 14-24 f/2.8 lens, PocketWizard Plus II (visible in Drew’s right hand)
Both cameras I had with me in the photo pit had PocketWizard Plus II’s mounted on them, so every time I took a photo, the camera I mounted on-stage was also triggered.
As Gurian captured the shot from the photo pit, the PocketWizard-equipped remote camera that he mounted onto a vertical lighting truss earlier, captured secondary wide-field stills of the same scene. If you look in the photo pit, just in front of the band, you can actually see me taking that last photo.
(Nikon D3s, 14-24 f/2.8 lens, PocketWizard Plus II)
As you can tell from the pictures, everything worked as planned.
Partly as a result of his shooting successes over the past decade, Drew has had several speaking engagements, and has taught workshops in the US, Asia, and the Middle East.Aside from the fun-factor of meeting new faces and interacting with others in the field, these seminars have given him an opportunity to mentor others as others have mentored him in the past.
To see more of Drew Gurian’s work visit his website.
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