The Houston Metal Project

So much for those plans for an entry on Roy de Carava.  As I started looking at things, I realized I didn’t really know how to say what I wanted to say on the subject of him and my own work.  So, I’m changing my tactic a little bit.  I think this will be a multi-part essay regarding my work and then bringing in how I’m being influenced by Roy de Carava and other artists.

A long time ago in my own galaxy in my own city not so far away…

If it hasn’t become plainly obvious to any of my regular readers, I’m a fan of heavy metal music.  I remember my preteen years of listening to the radio, especially the Top 40 countdowns every Sunday evening.  I liked the songs that were played, but always found myself more drawn to the rock and hard rock selections on the airwaves, e.g. “We’re Not Gonna Take it” by Twisted Sister and “Round and Round” by Ratt.  I was 13 when I got my first true heavy metal album, Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil.” The rest, to borrow a cliché, is history.

So we fast forward a few years (ok, at least a decade, but that’s all I’m revealing) and I’m getting into photography.  I wanted to learn to how to use a DSLR camera to take better concert photos for a website I was trying to build at the time.  The effect was twofold – I learned how to use my camera and it reawakened the artist lying dormant within me.  I took photos of big touring acts when I could get a pass, but there wasn’t really any direction with them.  I was looking for that one image that could go on the website with an article, and that was about it. When I started my run at Coog Radio, the college radio station at the University of Houston (UH), I started scratching the surface of the local heavy metal scene in Houston.  What I found was a scene that was vibrant and relatively untapped.  Again, I took images when I felt like it (sometimes you just have to leave the camera at home and be a fan), but again, there was no real direction with my activities.

Given my love of heavy metal and art, it was a no-brainer to merge the 2.  Instead of designing logos or album covers, I wanted to use my particular skills to bring a new visual perspective to the scene, with my primary focus on Houston.  With a click of the mouse, The Houston Metal Project was born in the Spring of 2014.  Now what was I going to do with it?

The project was initially started as a depository for the images I created at local shows, with the focus being on local artists.  I also photograph national touring acts when I can (it’s not very easy to get photo passes to venues they play) as they add to the scene when they play in Houston.  The bulk of the collection, however, is made up of images of local talent, with some of them on their way to becoming national acts.

 

Jonathan Bayliss of Desecrate The Faith (2014)

Jesse Brisendine of Behelit (2014)

Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society on the Revolver Golden Gods Tour (2014)

The 3 images above are part of the early months of my activities.  These images to me represented the first steps I was taking as they seemed to capture the intensity of the live heavy metal performance, even if the focus isn’t as great as it could be.  I definitely noticed a style developing.

Depravis Nocturna of Spectral Manifest (2014)

It was this image of Depravis Nocturna that crystallized the style I was going to work to develop.  I wanted to stay in black and white and fill the frame as much as possible.  I would use the venue lighting when possible, but I wasn’t going to rule out using my external flash if necessary.  I couldn’t let all that time spent learning to effectively bounce light to go to waste, could I?

King Diamond (2014)

Nergal of Behemoth (2015)

Stage detail of Testament (2015)

Lit stage at Testament (2015)

The images above represent a little bit of a departure from my developed style – King Diamond was actually posing for his portrait on stage.  I also dabbled a little bit in storytelling and stage detail.  It usually happens more with national acts than local acts.  I’m sure the show budget has a lot to with that.

Helmuth Lehner of Belphegor (2016)

John Hull of Desecrate The Faith (2016)

Alice Lima Lovchik of Insolvent (2016)

The images above are part of an experiment in color photography.  I decided after this phase I was going to concentrate solely on black and white for this project.  I will discuss that in my next entry as it pertains to what I’ve been thinking about as I wind my way through this endeavor.  It’s not that I’m unhappy with these.  I wouldn’t put them out if I were.  They just don’t fit my vision.  As an aside – Ms. Lovchik is a graduate of the University of Houston Law School.  Last I heard, she was studying for her bar exam.  Best of luck to you, Alice!

Casey Howard of Suicide Pandemic (2017)

It’s 3 years into this project.  I have over 1000 images published (I haven’t counted) on the Facebook page for this project, whittled down from the tens of thousands taken over the past 3 years.  I have an endgame in mind for what I’m doing, but I’m not quite ready to take that step just yet.  I am, however, going to be taking a very critical look at what I have made so far, and charting a future based on that.

I promise my next entry will be sooner than later.  I knew there was going to come a time when I needed to start taking trips down the intellectual rabbit hole and charting out a more concrete direction for this project.  As for now, you can comment as you like below.

The published images can be seen on the project’s Facebook page.  Just click here.

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