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Behind the Lens With...

Behind the Lens With Becky Yee

By Published: July 3, 2012
During live performances they usually do not allow flash photography. Focusing is always a problem and artefacts, and noise is an issue. You need a fast lens, but even with a fast fixed lens it can still be a challenge to get the shots you need. I sometimes make an image black and white so the blurriness as well as the noise and artefacts add character to the photo.

Your biggest challenge when shooting outdoor events:
The biggest challenge I have ever had shooting outdoor was shooting in the middle of a Typhoon. It was on Ooshima, a beautiful island and I was shooting a three-day outdoor rave for Edwin Jeans, who sponsored one of the side stages. At first the sun was shining, it was warm, and we could swim in the ocean. Everyone was dancing under clear blue skies and, then that night, around midnight a typhoon struck and it was miserable.

I was supposed to be shooting till 2-3AM, but the stage I was shooting on was taking so much water that they had to cancel the show because of all the issues with electricity. There were over 10,000 people there and most were camping but because of the typhoon they wound up being evacuated to a Junior High School Gym.

The next day we couldn't work during the typhoon. The rain was coming down so hard and the winds were so strong that we would walk with our backs to the wind because it was so painful to have the rain hit your face. The last day of the rave the weather cleared but the main stage was completely destroyed so the main acts shared the stage I was working at and I had to shoot till 5am. I watched the sun rise on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean and the skies after a typhoon are very different, it was deep reds and vibrant pinks. It was tough but the experience was really worth it.

Favorite venue to shoot:
I don't really have a favorite venue to shoot. I like shooting anywhere I can listen to great music and capture some great moments in time. I have shot everywhere from a big stadium with Metallica to a small basement jazz club in the outskirts of Tokyo and they are all wonderful places to shoot.

Favorite festival to shoot:
I love all the music festivals, the gathering of so many musicians and fans and the outdoors. But I guess New Orleans Jazz Festival and Spoleto. I love Charleston the food is so amazing there. So good music, good food—who can beat that? I also like Fuji Rock Festival and Summer Sonic in Japan.

Where was your first assignment location?
My first location assignment was for Sonar, a three-day music festival in Barcelona, Spain. I love Barcelona and I love music so the combination of the two was heaven. Not only did we have to shoot the music festival, we also had to shoot an 8-10 page fashion editorial with clothes from selected Spanish designers in the festival. It was a lot of work, we had to scout cool people and convince them to model for us, then get them to change right there in the middle of the festival. We borrowed a sheet from the hotel and just held it around them as we didn't want someone walking away with an expensive designer outfit.

It was a real challenge, we had the summer Balearic sun beating down on us and we were surrounded by tons of people. We wrapped up at Sonar by Day and then we had to shoot Sonar by Night. So I took off my fashion photographer hat and put on my music event photographer hat and shot Björk, Underworld, Jeff Mills and other world famous DJs, and in between tried to capture the energy of over 20-30,000 people dancing till 5AM. Very long day and no sleep but it was great experience I learned so much and some images were also published in Oyster magazine in Australia.

Your favorite musician(s) to photograph:
Favorite musician would be my boyfriend, Joe Beaty
Joe Beaty
Joe Beaty
. He is a trombone player and Mike Corrigan of BAC Musical Instruments made this custom trombone with a heart on it. It's very distinguished and very cute. You can do a lot with that dynamic shape and also when he plays he turns crazy colors he gets so red and looks even purple sometimes and veins pop out on his forehead, I think he is going to explode.

I also loved shooting Esperanza Spalding. I was shooting video at that time so the lens focused on her the entire time and she was so charming I felt like I wanted to climb through the camera lens and get closer to her. She has that special sparkle that you feel really drawn to her and you can't take your eyes off of her.

Did you know...
I am a fourth degree black belt in Kendo, Japanese fencing and have practiced for over 20 years and won tournaments in Tokyo and have been East Coast Woman's Kendo Champion. I also teach kids kendo class in Union City NJ.

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