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Beyond the Frame: Ignacio Alvarez Barutell

2 years ago

Music photographer Ignacio Alvarez Barutell shares how he envisaged this shot half an hour before he pressed the shutter. He tells us more in this weeks Beyond the Frame. 

‘I was waiting for quite some time, with the telephoto lens mounted, and focusing on any head that was moving slightly towards me until it appeared.’

This photograph was taken during the Coca Cola Music Experience festival, an event that was held in Madrid, in September, which is normally a hot month with pleasant and sunny weather. I was hired as the director of the photography team for that festival and I assembled a team of five photographers and a photo editor. I love working like this, with each photographer dedicated exclusively to their section and with an editor who is in charge of receiving the photograph, editing them on the spot, and then sharing them with festival management and social media teams.
This gives us photographers time to do what we are good at and what we are hired for: to take photographs that relate and describe the event. Working in this way means the photographer has time to search for and take the best shots. I had an idea for this shot and the moment took more than half an hour to happen. 
As I said previously, Madrid in September typically has calm and sunny weather, but that weekend the conditions were terrible. Storms raged on from the night before the festival and throughout the weekend. There were especially difficult and challenging moments: the festival was almost suspended on several occasions due to the occasional torrential downpours and the nearby presence of lightning and flooding.  
I was taking panoramic shots of the stage and the audience from a high vantage point – above the sound system, about 20 feet high. Since it was raining non-stop and I was in the open, I attached an umbrella to my photography vest so I could have my hands free to focus and hold the camera. My look was not very cool at the time but at least I kept the equipment safe and my hands were free to work.
The view was very curious, since all the public were wearing raincoats that the organization had distributed. They crowd looked almost all the same from my viewpoint. The pale red of the raincoats contrasted with the grey, dark weather. I looked at the composition and the panoramas that were unfolding and searched for a moment that would break the repetitious scene.
I had two cameras, a Nikon d500 with a 70-200mm lens and another camera, a Nikon d810 with a 14-24mm lens. I was exchanging the cameras but with the angle it looked too open and the essence of the scene was lost a lot, so in the end I opted for the d500 and the telephoto lens.
The whole audience was obviously looking at the stage and focused on the concert, so they did not turn to face me. I was waiting for quite some time, with the telephoto lens mounted, and focusing on any head that was moving slightly towards me until it appeared. A girl turned around, took out her phone and started preparing to take a selfie. I focused and waited. When she was ready, she called her friends, they got in place and took a selfie. At that moment, I took the photo.

Ready, set, go!