Bassist Victor Wooten & photographer Greg Kessler
Photographing Bass Camp and The Flecktones
November 09, 2000
|Greg Kessler took his camera to rock and jazz concerts, then sent his best pictures to band members. Members of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones--including bassist Victor Wooten--liked his photos. Now, Kessler chronicles their on-stage and off-stage activities, including Wooten's bass camp. Greg and Victor will share their pictures and stories at kodak.com.
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When Greg Kessler emerged from Syracuse University,
he brought a photojournalist's eye to the art of
photographing musicians at work. Kessler's camera
work impressed members of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones,
and has made him an integral part of their concert and
off-stage projects. Victor Wooten, the band's bassist,
recently invited Kessler to photograph his bass camp,
where aspiring and established musicians gather from
around the world to trade licks and sharpen their styles.
Tonight, Victor and Greg co-host the kodak.com chat room
to share pictures and stories.
Welcome Victor and Greg!
Hi everyone. It's great to be here. Ask away!
Glad to be here, and so glad to see many of my friends. Thanks for being here.
Greg, can you remember your first introduction to Victor? How long did it take for your friendship to develop?
It was in '94 at the Smith Opera House, and the Flecktones invited me to just photograph them for fun. They were really happy with the pictures and an instant friendship and connection happened.
Greg, when you began photography, were you drawn to rock and jazz concerts, or were you interested in other fields of photography first?
When I first started taking pictures, they really were for myself. And it naturally happened for me to combine two things that I love--photography and music.
There's a picture up now of three of the women that taught me and the rest of the guys how to play.
To get back to your question, Ed, I think you just need to become a good photographer first and just take pictures, and over time, you'll develop a niche for what you most love to take pictures. But I continue to take all sorts of pictures of many different things, and that's what keeps me so excited to do what I do.
Do you consider yourself a bassist or a teacher, or both?
I find myself in both roles. But I try to teach best by example. That's also how I learned.
Wow! That shot of you starting a fire with two pieces of wood is fantastic! How long did it take to do that?
If you have the right pieces of wood and good technique, it can take less than a minute. But for me, I still need a lot of practice.
This is one of the photos that for we could be used for various other things. It has this other-worldly quality that goes beyond what actually happens. It's a rare thing for me, and this is what really excites me about what I do.
How do you deal with the low light at most concerts?
Hi Carl. Low light is definitely a challenge. Using fast lenses and high speed film help. The most important tip I could give you is to have a steady hand when you use low shutter speeds, or use a monopod. It took me a lot of film and a lot of practice to figure out how low of light I can get away with.
Hayes Bass 119:
Hey Vic, this is Alex Hayes from camp (with the guitarist brother). I'm going to the Flecktones show at Beacon Theatre in NY (and Kelvin Theatre in North Hampton), my first Tones shows. We were wondering about the formality of the shows, if we'll have a chance to talk to you guys?
We usually hang around at the front of the stage after every concert, so I'll see you there. Alex, thank your brothers and dad for the nice letters.
How did your camp grow? How did it attract an international audience?
That's a very good question. I'm not really sure. Having Kodak as a sponsor was a big help.
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