ryan pirog, photography
ryan pirog, photography


Empire Drift

Empire Drift was the first band I ever shot… My best friend Shayna worked with one of their diehard fans (a 60 yr old guy and his wife) who talked to the band, who wanted me to come shoot one of their shows… I was still new to photography and didn’t’ have many lens, and knew going in that the kit 18-55 lens that came with my D60 wouldn’t’ cut it in a dark bar… So I did some research and bought a used 1970’s manual focus 50mm 1.4 off eBay for $100... I messed around with the lens a little bit beforehand, shooting some pictures with Bridgett one day, and I took it out one night to see how it’d do in low light… I wasn’t’ great with manual focus, since I have auto focus on all my stuff why shoot manual? Well I’d learn when I’d get there; it’s not as easy as you’d think when you have to do it… I got to the bar and was ushered past one bouncer at door by the owner “he’s with the band” he said, i finally felt like one of the cool kids… I found my friends who were set up with the bands family and Girlfriends off stage left, they had a beer waiting for me… I dialed in my setting on the opening act “Switch Lefty” who weren’t half bad... Empire took the stage and I started clicking away… I shot everyone in the group from every angle I could, and tried some shots from the back to get the crowd in the foreground, which posed difficult standing one leg on a swiveling bar stool the other on a table… It gets hot in any bar, especially when you’re crawling around and not breathing trying to keep your already blurry pictures still… This is where the manual focus posed a problem… I’m 85% color blind and don’t have the best night vision… So trying to focus on moving people in a dark room with random lighting was a trip… I’d find the angle I wanted and would start shooting as I’d turn the focus ring… For every 6 pictures I took 1 was in focus, and after scrutinizing the framing, I had maybe a handful of keepers out of the some 1500 I took, but it was well worth it… I took home about a dozen of their CD’s to hand out to people, and got free drinks all night and a shout out from the band (which made me incredibly awkward since everyone looked me and as I was standing in the back on a stool)… All in all it was a really cool experience, I wanted to shoot bands again, and would...


Barefoot Truth

The Barefoot Truth concert was a brainchild of my buddy Troy (BG13 & Skater troy)… They were one of his favorite bands; a sort of Jack Johnson meets Phish sound to them… His goal was to be a music writer so having the opportunity to bring his favorite band to perform and write an article about it for the BGNews, was a dream come true… He asked if I could shoot the show for his article. Of course I obliged, not only because it was a concert but he skated/threw himself off countless ledge for me, this was the least I could do… The show was free at the Clazel, which was an old movie theater that was converted into a bar with a good sized stage, and had lofted VIP side seating which made for unrestricted views of the stage… It was a good show, though their style was pretty chill which made for “unenergetic” pictures, but they sufficed for what troy needed… My favorite part of it though was the shit eating grin Troy had the whole time, especially after they called out thanks to him for bringing them in… I give troy a lot of respect for all of it, he saw what he wanted… and got it…


Extra! Extra!

This was definitely the most inebriated that I’ve been trying to take pictures… A friend & I got to the bar about an hour before the opener so I could set up before I had to shoot… Well the blue moon was just flowing that night and I put down 5 pint draughts before the opener even took the stage… By the time Extra played, I was hammered… It was a nice bar, well kept, dark and had the small concert venue feel to it yet was well light… The only problem was the stage was barely a foot higher than the floor, meaning unless you were in the front row and limited yourself to angles and subjects, you had a terrible view, also meaning I’d be standing on chairs a lot… Well they started and so did I, climbing around people trying to get good close-ups and standing on chairs to try and shoot over the crowd… They wrapped up and met me in the back of the bar for a group shot, which I quickly posed behind a pool table, it was spur of the moment and I needed something… To be honest that was the first time that I’ve ever taken pictures and not known afterwards what I just shot... I don’t’ remember looking at my screen to see if things were focused or framed right, I just shot… It wasn’t’ till the next day when I looked over them did I see how it turned out... Won’t do that again… maybe


The Black Angels

The Black Angles are my all time favorite band… Started in Austin Texas in 04’ they have a 70’s psych rock throwback sound, reminiscent of the Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin… They were playing at the Grog Shop in Cleveland and without question I was going… I talked Troy into driving out from Toledo and writing an article about the show for his blog to accompany my photos, and sent him some of their songs since he’d never heard of them before… Parking was a bitch and we ended up 6 blocks from the bar, with Troy getting a ticket for going a few over in a 25mph zone on the way into town… The bar was full of hipsters and sweaty long haired rockers, with skinny jeans in no short supply… The opening bands were ok... Just ok... So I pushed my way to the stage politely asking couples if I could squat in front of them to get a shot of the band walking up (people are quite accommodating when they see a camera and you’re nice to them)… I picked the right spot as Christan, Alex, Stephanie, Nate & Kyle brushed right past me to get on stage… The first few songs I didn’t even shoot, taking pictures separates you’re from where you are and I wanted nothing more than to be wholly there, Its amazing feeling your favorite songs reverberate in your chest and making your ears cringe from the sheer volume of it all… Again with the 70’s manual focus 50mm 1.4 lens I had, getting a clear shot was a crap shoot, but when the lights hit, and the lens was in focus it all came together… My favorite shot of the night is a picture of the guitarist Christand Bland, and his Screaming Afro Haired woman shirt which you can subtly see in the shadows… I’d been to a lot of concerts and festivals, but nothing has ever compared to that night, in that sweaty little hole in the war bar…