The Sophomore Slump

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M83 at FYF Festival in L.A.

For a long time, you, my followers and commentators, have complimented my pictures. I can acknowledge the great feedback and I accept it all, to an extent. It’s just that I look at pictures of other blogs, esp. from professional photographers, and also those who can “create” images, and I always feel like most of what I got is still incomparable from theirs. This time however I’m going to own it. I thank you all for those who appreciate the images I have shared. I love these pictures I took and I pride on all of it.



It was tough and rough to take these concert pictures. The crowd was shoulder to shoulder. M83 brings an amazing set and that people were responsive to it. Everyone is actively taking in the explosive performance. I have to wrestle as I tried to keep my camera in focus and steady. Against riotous attendees, moving bodies and elevated raising hands, it was hard accomplishing a clear shot. Include the band’s hyper movements, and the spectrum of light and dispersed smoke, taking action shots was really a challenge.

Obviously, I also wanted to absorb their music, and to be with the crowd. M83’s sound is as elevating as it is overactive. That’s exactly what I wanted to get from listening to their music live. I would put the camera down and just feel their music. M83 did not disappoint, I was elated and I was high-strung. This (right above) is one of my proudest shots. There are errors here and there. It’s not the most accomplished, and it may not be the most favorable judging from other images here but I really love it. I constantly had to find time for the band to dial down the frenzies before I bring thr camera back up. Here, I caught Anthony Gonzalez tuning his guitar during a break from one song to another. The small amount of smoke and illumination was just perfect.



Anthony Gonzales was the easy one to capture. Other members, I have to improvise. Guitarist/Bassist, Jordan Lawlor, was the most transient.




Jordan Lawlor doesn’t stay put. Never I have really seen a bassist taking over the stage, he leaps around the stage from one end to the other. I think it’s a good thing. Here he is again dominating the stage, he stood up at the center before the big bang of the performance end.

Here Morgan Kibby is heavily striking the cymbals. Her melancholic vocal parts never ceased to surprise and astonish me.

The best part of their performance is during their most popular song “Midnight City”. Completing the ensemble, the entering of saxophone solo to the stage when most of the songs were already played was a very pleasant surprise by Ian Young.

FYF Fest, though often ugly and full of disorders, is aboveall a lively event that brings live acts and fans together to celebrate music. It was nice having a good enough spot to capture these images among the raging and equally eager music fans who wants to see them perform live. Taking concert shots, esp. bands like M83, is always painstalking. You can never be accurate, you always have to adjust camera settings, and that it requires patience. In the end, no matter how it turns out, catching an event of something you are passionate about is worth all the difficulties that you have to go through. It was a magnificent experience that I get to put both of what I love together.

M83 is a band playing retro synths with layers and layers of sounds that swoosh around the space and drop its turbulence from unreachable heights into a halt like a tornado. They can be exhausting, gritting and exuberant. All the while, their music floats blissfully. It gets so entrancing. As much as their sounds, and their performance, are full of energy, the vocals and the lines of their songs echo and that it never gets overshadowed. Like their album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming it was, for lack of a better word, EPIC.


  1. adinparadise says:

    These are truly wonderful captures. I felt as though I was actually there with you. Well done.๐Ÿ™‚

  2. tarnished space says:

    The pics are great. : )

  3. jixxer17 says:

    I really like the soft, smokey light in the first image and how it highlights the black telecaster, really cool !

  4. i loved going to concerts and gigs and take pictures of my favorite bands too! great photos here! ^^

  5. The Word says:

    Wow. You’ll have to share how to capture photos in the dark like that. Love the smoke effect.

    • rommel says:

      Hmmm… No flash. AV or A-Dep/auto depth. I have to wait for the camera to register and generate stillness before I click it. Sometimes, I do continuous shots but that eats a lot of memory space.

  6. Debra Kolkka says:

    The photos are excellent…very difficult to get good shots like this from the audience.

  7. You have a talent that capture’s photo’s that are enjoyable to look at…:)

  8. Jo Bryant says:

    these are great – they look good enough to be featured in a magazine

  9. Sunshine says:

    Not only are the photos dynamic but your review is smashing! I say, someone hire Rommel…he is your man!๐Ÿ™‚

  10. cobbies69 says:

    Brill collection, hope the sounds were as good as your pictures. looked good to be there. I miss my days of doing…thanks for share. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • rommel says:

      Yeah, I haven’t gone to a concer for a very long time. That’s why I went to this. It was a nice return to live music experience.

      • tclearyn3 says:

        I love a live show and am lucky to go to 8-10 a year! Love your shots, I am NEVER successful in decent live shots for some of the same reasons you mentioned and that I’m using a smart phone, too lazy to “work it”! You’ve inspired me to try harder!

  11. tokyohamster says:

    These photos are so dramatic and have great composition. It’s so hard taking concert shots especially with the lighting and fighting with the crowds. I admire your work a lot.

  12. Amy says:

    These great shots deliver much of the excitement and movements, …in the concern. The smoke and lights are just wow!

  13. LuAnn says:

    These shots are exceptional Rommel! Have a lovely week.๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Gilly Gee says:

    You absolutely nailed it Rommel! Respect๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Ave Valencia says:

    Were these taken with a professional camera? I’m never allowed to take my camera into concerts, that’s why I ask.

    • rommel says:

      Most of the indoors, like theaters or one stage music arenas, yeah, they really don’t. You can still do something about that. You just need to learn the tricks and trade in the camera street.๐Ÿ˜€ The major one is bring the camera anyway if you really want to take pictures. If they don’t allow photography, still bring Point and Shoot. Once the music or any show starts, they won’t be sble to police the audience taking pictures with their cellphones and point and shoot. If it’s theater, you probably won’t get to able to bring “professional camera”. The least thing they can do is hold for you.

      This one is a relatively large space festival. So….๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Solo says:

    Your pics suck bro, just retire!!!!


    but dude your blog is one of the few I follow with this pic thing, you nice. I love this, as a guy who has crappy cam and takes tons of “dark”(i.e. club) pics I love your attn to detail, what other bloggers you read who flick it up?

  17. […] want to thank everyone who appreciated the challenging photography of M83 that I took during FYF Fest in LA this weekend. James Blake’s set is tamer so I was able to get even more better shots than […]

  18. You should own it – the pictures look great. Love the ‘feel’ of the concert shots – puts me right there with you.

    • rommel says:

      I love tamer or more intimate stage. This one is energetic, I’m surprised to have accomplished captures with all the movements. I love all kinds of music anyway so it doesn’t matter how tame or energetic a performance would be. Thanks for the compliments.

  19. I love m83 and WILL see them live one of these days. I love your hi quality pictures on the blog and will definitely be keeping an eye out here!

    • rommel says:

      I failed to do a 2011 Best Album post last year. But if I did, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming would have entered somewhere in top 3 spots. I did include their video as one of the bests last year.

  20. tchistorygal says:

    You know what I think is most awesome about this entire article is your opening statement. ” This time however Iโ€™m going to own it. I thank you all for those who appreciate the images I have shared. I love these pictures I took and I pride on all of it.” Your pictures ARE great!! Bit, I love you humility. Keep up the good work/

  21. Fergiemoto says:

    Even with the crowd, you took some great photos! It looks like you are right up there on stage with them, given how closeup the photos are.

  22. great pics!!! It is my wish to catch them live๐Ÿ™‚ you did a great job of taking good pics and still enjoying what their music is all about!

    • rommel says:

      Thank you! But of course, I was feeling it. M83 has some of those magnetic, captivating sounds … To be honest, I can’t let that pass over photography.

  23. You should own it cos you nailed these shots!๐Ÿ™‚ It’s amazing how you kept a steady hand in the crowd and in the dark – well done!

  24. themofman says:

    You should be very proud of your photography, including these. Any pro shooting a concert would try to capture images as though the viewer is brought right up on stage. You’ve done that very well. You’ve created an initimate experience through still photography.

    Remember that the ONLY difference between a pro and a dedicated hobbyist or novice is that pros make money from their work. If you concentrate on sqeezing every bit of creativity, and technical know how, out of yourself and your equipment you’ll make wonderful photographic images.

  25. […] I am proud of my captures of James Blake and M83 night performances. But, I knew even as I review these images I took during the day that I was […]

  26. amb says:

    Great shots! Made me feel like I was right there at the show๐Ÿ™‚

  27. […] Music: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming by M83 – Elevating! I’ve seen them in concert …. here. […]

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