I seek quiet, subtle, symbolic moments—when the spotlights are dimmed and the artist is no longer on stage performing, when one drops his guard and for a few fleeting moments is alone with their person, their thoughts, their reality.
Watching 85-year-old bluegrass music legend Ralph Stanley in concert, I made predictable, on-stage performance pictures and even a few images of him signing autographs after the show. When others left the auditorium, I stayed and kept my lens fixed on the one small wink of light left on the quiet and dark stage, hoping Stanley would pass through it in a symbolic gesture of ending his career. He did.
It is this photograph made after the band had left the stage and the frail singer shuffled away alone that best communicated what I saw and felt—a fleeting moment that speaks to the reality that each of us is ultimately alone when the lights are dimmed.
I didn’t want to change the natural scene by using flash. I wanted to make an authentic photograph of a real, passing moment that represented a man moving gingerly through the end of a long and celebrated career.
Reader Challenge: Before or After
Regardless of the size of the venue, performers usually wear a different face before or after a performance. Anticipate where a performer—famous or not—will drop their guard and reveal an unrehearsed moment. Before one is in the limelight, we often see anxiety. Afterward, relief. Where will they walk? What light will they pass through? What will be the background when they are not on the stage or at a podium?
To respond to this challenge, and share your work, email your best image to firstname.lastname@example.org with a caption and photo credit. We will share the best submissions on our website or social media channels.