Robert Redfield's Blog

A 50-Year Ph.D in Nature

The things you learn with new clients!

Loacom, a marketing and branding company for "better-world" organizations, wanted to help the University of California Natural Reserve System (NRS) tell their unique and inspiring story – 50 years of stewardship of 39 undisturbed reserves in California. We focused on three managed by UC Santa Barbara that top the wow chart for beauty and diversity. Read more about the NRS here and see the story.

by Robert Redfield

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By The Numbers

I like music festivals. And when you’re in the sea of humanity at one in Coachella, Austin, San FranciscoChicagoLos Angeles or any of the other 143 U.S. festivals, it seems the rest of humanity adores them too.  So it’s interesting to think of the festival experience from a pure statistical point of view. This, from Nielsen*, the ratings people:

  • Approximately 32 million people attended at least one music festival in the U.S. last year
  • Nearly half (46%) are ages 18-34
  • A third of festival fans attend more than one festival in a year

Like any human venture, festivals present us a myriad of peep holes into human nature. One angle I love  – the singular private coves people find in the thunderous ocean of crowds.

Another angle I love? The beach balls bouncing slow-motion above the crowd, but that’s another post.

Music festival season is kicking in. See you there?

*From the Nielsen’s Music 360 survey and report last fall that you can browse here.

From Sonoma With Love

For the 15th Sonoma International Film Festival, the delightful Kevin McNeely (exec director) and Claudia Mendoza-Carruth (programming/PR) asked me to photograph/film this year's festival while also lending a hand to managing the pipeline of incoming photo/video media from other shooters. 

I love telling the festival's story afterwards by marrying the reams of captured photographs and video to a glove-fitting soundtrack.  A highlights video.

The festival is renowned for its friendly and fun vibe, scenic surroundings, good eats and fine wine (no surprise there!). Actors are refreshingly at ease and approachable, while the filmmakers become your friends by the end of the five days. 

The filmmakers and their stories inspire everyone and it seems the whole town of Sonoma lends a hand in and around the quaint tree-lined city-center square to help them in any way – from a cup of coffee to a complimentary guesthouse. Close to my heart are these quiet filmmakers, yearning for their films to speak to a larger audience. I tried to pay homage to four of them with a few extra seconds of slow-pan screen time.

And the parties … oh the parties.  You’ll see.  Enjoy.

Best of Sonoma International Film Festival 2015 video.

Best of Sonoma International Film Festival 2015 video.

Special thanks go to contributing photographers Cristian Isbrandtsen and Kevin Carruth.

Shadows & Silhouettes

Sometimes, less visual information is better. Less function, more form.

Shadows and Silhouettes. I wonder if our eyes are relieved to occasionally be guided to the water like a tired horse.

In the late 1700's in France, cutouts were "invented" and all the rage as low-cost quick alternatives to painted bust portraits.

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

I find silhouettes refreshingly simple and clear, like a well-written haiku. 

Donald Glover of Childish Gambino

Donald Glover of Childish Gambino

Shadows, on the other hand, feel altered and sneaky, leaving me feeling I'm not getting the straight story. Right?

Me.

Me.

Friendly people. Spooky shadows.

Friendly people. Spooky shadows.

The band Hosannas.

The band Hosannas.

by Robert Redfield

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Edit Please

The journey of a photograph from the camera to your eyeballs is a twisty and perilous one. 

Every image is born with a click with high hopes of being loved. But most don't make it. This Darwinian fact of life is especially harsh when I must be the one (not the client) to choose a single image of a scene or a project or a person. Sometimes, the choice is easy and if there's time, I can bounce the candidates off my trusted won't-pull-punches advisors and they'll usually agree in blind taste tests.

But the edit becomes excruciating when I've pushed and pulled and sliced and diced and yet can't decide. And my advisors are split down the middle like Congress. Time is running out. Two images, both deserving. Both with something to say. How do choose!?!

This happened recently for a portrait of Nils Frahm, a gifted musician and composer. I photographed him after his sound check before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Check out his music, it's gorgeous and moving. 

Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. 

The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

I couldn't decide. I liked #1's tinge of edge, his nonchalance for the camera. The blurred car and glow of the fire. But his face is half-hidden and one of my advisors didn't like the cigarette one bit. I liked #2 for the full view of his face and tone of light from simulated car headlights. I wasn't crazy about his right hand and the stopped cars and I wanted more from his expression. But some of my advisors liked this image more. Ugh!

I did what I often do if I have time. I walked away from the screen and busied myself with washing the dishes to complete forget the images for a few minutes. And when I returned, I did what one must do ... I went with my gut. 

Portraits, Selfies & Guitar Jumps

The ACL Music Festival 2014 in Austin Texas last month was a big success again, drawing
over 210,000 to see 130+ performers on the weekend I photographed it.

Performances are fun and exhilarating for sure, but nailing a good band portrait is very
rewarding. I've photographed the irrepressible Fitz & and The Tantrums five times over the
years (Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Austin) but this was my first portrait opportunity, made possible by the band's helpful publicist Peter Quinn of BB Gun and tour manager
Aaron Glas.

Fitz & The Tantrums at ACL Music Festival 2014. Band members are left to right Noelle Scaggs (vocals), Joe Karnes (bass guitar), Michael Fitzpatrick (lead vocals),  Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), John Wicks (drummer) and James King (saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar).

Fitz & The Tantrums at ACL Music Festival 2014. Band members are left to right
Noelle Scaggs (vocals), Joe Karnes (bass guitar), Michael Fitzpatrick (lead vocals), 
Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), John Wicks (drummer) and James King (saxophone,
flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar).

 

Mac DeMarco delivers jizz-jazz mellow rock with a goofball raunchy style, including 
crowd-surfing and guest impromptu singers from the crowd. One of his lovable traits is the
way he goes out of his way to spend time with waiting fans after a performance – signing,
selfie-posing or just hanging and sharing a smoke – instead of escaping the Austin heat for
the peaceful artist lounge and dressing room with A/C. Special thanks to manager and booking agent, Michelle Cable of Panache Booking.

Mac DeMarco and fan shoot a duet selfie after his performance at ACL Music Festival.

Mac DeMarco and fan shoot a duet selfie after his performance at ACL Music Festival.

 

Now here's a different kind of band portrait. After every show, The Glitch Mob takes
the ultimate selfie with a most interesting background - the entire audience!  Thanks to
publicist Courtney Ridgway of Magnum PR and tour manager Justin Basch for inviting
me in for the fun.

The Glitch Mob's signature end-of-show selfie at ACL Music Festival. Left-to-right are Ed Ma, Justin Boreta and Josh Mayer.

The Glitch Mob's signature end-of-show selfie at ACL Music Festival. Left-to-right are
Ed Ma, Justin Boreta and Josh Mayer.

 

Like a rare animal in the wild, catching the guitar-jump on film requires luck and timing.
Here are two fliers from this year's festival. 

Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers gets some banjo air at ACL Music Festival 2014. Don't worry ma ... I'm tethered. 

Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers gets some banjo air at ACL Music Festival 2014. Don't worry ma ... I'm tethered. 

Upper tent stratosphere exploration by My Brightest Diamond.

Upper tent stratosphere exploration by My Brightest Diamond.

 

Three days of ACL Festival is good, but enough. It ended well with Pearl Jam, which started
like this for us photographers walking into the photo pit before their show. 

The show before the Pearl Jam show.

The show before the Pearl Jam show.

Was there more to ACL Music Festival 2014 than just portraits, selfies and guitar-jumps? 

Yep.

Enjoy here.

by Robert Redfield

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Block Party Cocktail

I'm drawn to neighborhood block parties. The kind where a community raises their creative barn to show off – and to be shown – everything they can be. The quintessential New York City neighborhood block party comes to mind. So does the up-and-coming California dreamin' New Noise Block Party in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone.

Jeff Theimer, mastermind of the New Noise Music Festival, asked me for a 30-second teaser video showing off the festival's Block Party. The ingredients were there ... curious children, artisan vendor stalls, dancing crowds, food trucks, warm on-your-face sun ... a vibrant cocktail splashed onto a music backdrop growing through the day from humble local bands to strutting nighttime headline acts.

New Noise Block Party video

New Noise Block Party video

Special thanks to FMLYBND for their perfect "Far Away" sound track; to Art Fisher, Tom Long and JB Brookman for quality stills; to videographers Victor Rocha, Dylan Cauchon, Tom Judah and to Samy's Camera for their generous filmmaking gear sponsorship. They all made my footage shine.

The next New Noise Block Party is coming again to Santa Barbara October 18!

The Black & White of FYF Fest 2014

In the beginning, there was Black & White ... and it was good.

Claire Bouchard as Grimes

Claire Bouchard as Grimes

These days, we are very lucky. We can effortlessly convert any image to Black & White.  A Black & White treatment can be rich and dramatic, forcing the eyes to see form and composition ...

Thomas Mars of Phoenix.

Thomas Mars of Phoenix.

... or it can disinfect an image suffering from ugly stage lighting ...

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

... or it can simply be a welcome change from the ordinary (and expected) world of color.

Carlos Dengler of  Interpol

Carlos Dengler of  Interpol

Curious to see the color originals of these Black & Whites from FYF Fest 2014? Just click the image. And let me know which version you like best ... you might be surprised. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Matt Mondanile, Real Estate

Matt Mondanile, Real Estate

Out Of Outside Lands

Jenny Lewis plays the intimate Sutro stage.

Jenny Lewis plays the intimate Sutro stage.

When I'm dashing between stages on a crowded dirt path under the trees of Golden Gate Park, I think the Park is smiling ... looking down into its cupped hands as it were ...  at the crazy guitar antics and dust and VIP canbanas and swarms of smiling faces that is Outside Lands. 

Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius, moments before going on.

Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius, moments before going on.

It's my favorite festival because of its visual diversity and infused SFO vibe.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at stage edge of a thunderous crowd.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at stage edge of a thunderous crowd.

by Robert Redfield

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Into Outside Lands

Outside Lands is in a few days and I’m looking forward to photographing its performers and festival shenanigans (August 8-10 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco). It was at that exact festival a few years ago – stage view obstructed by the crowd, senses intruded by wafting armpits – that I swore to myself that I would never again simply watch a live performance without my camera. The outcome of that self-fulfilling prophecy was wonderfully ironic … my press/photo pass does indeed now plop me in the front of fronts, only now I jostle with linemen-size photographers … also with active armpits. Close to the sound? You betcha. But only for the tantalizing first 3 songs (unless you’re buds with the stage manager) and then you’re herded out of the pit to the back of the sea of crowds. Wash and rinse about 15 times a day. 

Matthew Bellamy, frontman for Muse at Outside Lands 2011.

Matthew Bellamy, frontman for Muse at Outside Lands 2011.

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees at Outside Lands 2012.

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees at Outside Lands 2012.

Jack White at Outside Lands 2012.

Jack White at Outside Lands 2012.

Fitz and the Tantrums at Outside Lands.

Fitz and the Tantrums at Outside Lands.

At times, I’m able to prearrange a 5-min band portrait for promotional purposes. Finding a visually appealing (or at least neutral) spot backstage, posing the distracted band in an interesting way and lighting it with minimal gear at hand … ah that is the challenge. Does the resulting image tell a (brief) story about the artist(s) … yes?  Success!

STRFKR at Outside Lands 2012.

STRFKR at Outside Lands 2012.

Reggie Watts at Outside Lands 2011.

Reggie Watts at Outside Lands 2011.

Zola Jesus at Outside Lands.

Zola Jesus at Outside Lands.

But wait … there’s more! The technicolor ecosystem of the festival itself – a show in itself rivaling a busy New Delhi intersection! Might not match the epic proportions of a Woodstock, but the Outside Lands organism is one strange and colorful and wonderful animal.  

Outside Lands creature, last spotted in 2012.

Outside Lands creature, last spotted in 2012.

[RESEND] Freaky Artists & Sunburn

[RESEND: Fixing the missing video thumbnail at the bottom of blog - me in jester costume.]

For years, the quirky and creative in Santa Barbara have produced a controlled-chaos parade celebrating Solstice Day. No boring floats allowed. Instead, over-the-top ensemble costumes, pumping Congo drums, performance art floats and synchronized Brazilian skin.

I was lucky enough to be involved in 2 ways this year ... first, helping set up an onsite studio for the uber-talented photographer Kevin Steele as he documented the wacky creative costumes of the parade participants. (Buy his book ... it's his 5th year of the project.)

Assistants Jeremy James Roloff and Nico Steele test the highlights while I hold down the shadows Photo: Kevin Steele. 

Assistants Jeremy James Roloff and Nico Steele test the highlights while I hold down the shadows Photo: Kevin Steele

Second, working with the the Parade management, I mounted my 5 trusty embedded GoPros on floats, helmets and poles to film the camaraderie of the Solstice Parade People building their floats before the big day and then their colorful steps through downtown. 

My favorite part?

The costume requirement!

                       Me adjusting the helmet camera on the parade coordinator.

                       Me adjusting the helmet camera on the parade coordinator.

Do You Want To Be There?

Working with the talented Keith English, we made this 30-sec promo piece to excite and invite filmies to the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival 2014. Keith is an accomplished animator with feature film creds, but on this piece, he expertly directed the key message ... you want to be there! I filmed about half of the material at last year's Festival. Cody Westheimer scored the perfectly suited soundtrack.

by Robert Redfield

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Saul Hudson, better known as Slash

Slash

Saul Hudson, better known as Slash, photographed during a fundraising event to raise money for free instruments and recording studios for kids. The stage was packed with talent – another good story for another time. What struck me was this stoic presence. Slash was born in Hampstead, London. His mother was a costume designer whose clients included David Bowie; and his father an English artist who created album covers for musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. He came to Los Angeles, taught himself guitar, and went on to be the lead guitarist for “Guns N’ Roses” and later “Velvet Revolver”. 


In a 2011 interview Slash revealed he's a cat lover, a pinball machine collector, 7 years clean & sober, doesn’t eat anything from the sea, has a pet anaconda named Sam, and has flat-lined 3 times (he has an implanted defibrillator).

Panache Booking and Banana Pancakes in Brooklyn

I could see my breath and feel winter on my ears as I climbed up the Bedford subway steps last week in Brooklyn. The crunchy sidewalk on Driggs Ave. took me past school fields of snow to Enid’s, a delightfully shabby neighborhood diner with the motto stamped on their pens:            

“Enids, since before you moved here.”  

I was in love.

It was nearly empty on this Thursday mid-afternoon and I gratefully sat along the wall-sized window of warm sun. Banana pancakes were the obvious menu choice as I edited a video until Michelle Cable arrived. Michelle is the founder of Panache Booking, a boutique talent agency with offices in Brooklyn and San Francisco, with a roster of 126 bands playing the globe.

Michelle and I first met backstage at Mac DeMarco’s performance at the FYF Festival last summer while I clicked a quick burst of press portraits of Mac and his irreverent band buddies in the warm dusty LA sun. 

Mac DeMarco and band.

Mac DeMarco and band.

Mac DeMarco surfing in LA.

Mac DeMarco surfing in LA.

At the time, Michelle impressed me with a calm, casual professionalism. No wonder that now Michelle also personally manages Mac and Ty Segall, both rising indie stars.

We sat at the old faded wooden table in the quiet sun – she with green tea and me with hot chocolate – and chatted about bi-coastalness, touring and imagery. She generously gave me Panache Booking’s brand new mixed tape of 25 songs from her artists. As it turns out, one of them, Thee Oh Sees, gave me one of my favorite rock photos.

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees 

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees 

She must have seen it in my face and asked if I had a cassette player. I stammered “umm…” and we smiled.

The Panache series volume 1 mixtape.

The Panache series volume 1 mixtape.

I was relieved no low-fi 'sters were listening in. 

Hello 2014

Barreling into 2014, we glance back at 2013 ...

JANUARY – Artist Zackary Taylor for Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara  

JANUARY – Artist Zackary Taylor for Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

 

FEBRUARY – Versus The World promo band portrait  

FEBRUARYVersus The World promo band portrait

 

MARCH – Nerfherder in Mayor's Office gallery  

MARCH – Nerfherder in Mayor's Office gallery

 

APRIL – Demián Bichir for Sonoma Film Festival  

APRIL – Demián Bichir for Sonoma Film Festival

 

MAY – Otojoy customer testimonial ad campaign  

MAY – Otojoy customer testimonial ad campaign

 

JULY – Video biography for Bob Redfield  

JULY – Video biography for Bob Redfield

 

JUNE – Nicole Larsen, fashion  

JUNE – Nicole Larsen, fashion

 

AUGUST – New promotional portraits for the Mac Demarco band  

AUGUST – New promotional portraits for the Mac Demarco band

 

SEPTEMBER – product demonstration videos for Green Hills Software  

SEPTEMBER – product demonstration videos for Green Hills Software

 

NOVEMBER – FMLYBND band portraits and videos for ATM Artists  

NOVEMBER – FMLYBND band portraits and videos for ATM Artists

 

DECEMBER – Product launch video for  Flea Market Rx  

DECEMBER – Product launch video for  Flea Market Rx

 

by Robert Redfield

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Versus The World Promotional Photos

A fun and experienced bunch of musicians they are, from Santa Barbara and LA. They asked me for a simple authentic look. I wanted to make sure the images fit their music and personalities. So, in between their tours in Australia and Europe, we nailed these images in the studio, outdoors & in their favorite bar.

Versus The World is Donald Spence, Mike Davenport, Chris Flippin, Tony Caraffa and Bryan Charlson. Check out their latest album Drink. Sing. Live. Love. featuring thirteen fist pumping tracks that fuse elements of post-hardcore, pop-punk and rock.

by Robert Redfield

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Have you licked your guitar lately?

It started with my photograph ... then ... Justin Hauser, graphic artist extraordinaire, brought his eye and pen to the game. 

His interpretation adds the texture, mood and essential free-spirited vibe that IS San Francisco's Outside Lands Music Festival.

See the transformation from photogragh to final graphic.

See more of Justin's work here.

by Robert Redfield

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The Little Music Festival That Did

The music festival and conference that delivered a refreshing artisan treatment of the mega-festivals of today – New Noise 2012 Music Festival and Conference – in Santa Barbara, California in October 2012.

See the music, speakers and celebration ... created by Robert Redfield and the staff of talented festival photographers and videographers Ishmael Amin, Sandra Berntsson, JB Brookman, Art Fisher, Amanda Peacock, and Thomas Long.

by Robert Redfield

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