On February 14th, 2020, I photographed the Dave Kelly Live Valentine’s Day Special at the Bella Concert Hall in Calgary, Alta. Event photography is something I have been doing for almost twelve years now. But this was a different kind of event for me because it was outside of my usual genres. I was hired for the gig just 24 hours beforehand – limiting how much time I had to prepare.

When I receive a request to shoot a concert in Calgary, I know the venues I’m working in, I usually know the music (I stick to heavy metal), and in some cases, I know the lighting tech or other crew members so I can ask questions. This prior knowledge and research allows me to be as prepared as possible and plan out my shoot a little bit. There is always a lot that could be unknown, though.

To prepare for this shoot I had two useful resources. I had a Show Flow (schedule) along with advice and previous material from the photographer I was covering, Ben Liard. I made sure to arrive at the venue early to scope out angles, lighting, and the stage set up. The Kelly Brothers Production crew was extremely helpful and pleasant to work with.

I utilized the Show Flow to help me decide which side of the hall I should be on. At the Bella Concert Hall, the seats go all the way up to the stage. To move from one side of the Hall to the other, I would have to exit to the foyer and then enter through another set of doors. I spent most of my time on one side of the hall, and moving to the other side twice.

I kept a close eye on how Kelly utilized the stage as I photographed the various components of the show. This included watching for how he interacted with his team and guests. I tried to capture the interactions, the banter, and the emotional moments. The selection of images I delivered tells a story of the night and show the connections between everyone involved.

Dave Kelly and Jim Button sharing a moment on stage at the Bella Concert Hall
Sean Jones singing at the Dave Kelly Live Valentine's Day Special 2020
Dave Kelly walking down concert hall aisle and interacting with guests
Jim Button and Sean Jones play the xylophone
Mandy Stobo handing Dave Kelly the sponsor list which she made disappear during magic show
Jann Arden holding a Valentine's Day card from Dave Kelly
Bella Concert Hall aisle leading to stage with Dave Kelly Live on stage
Sean Jones and Dave Kelly talking on stage
Mandy Stobo and Jim Button hugging and watching a short film on projector screen
Dave Kelly and Sean Jones picking raffle ticket winners
Dave Kelly and Jim Button presenting the Button Award

If you’d like to try your hand at event photography, or improve your skills in low light situations, I have a Low Light Photography Workshop at Bolder Climbing Community on April 5, 2020. We will be working in “competition” settings with climbers under stage lights.