Hail to the King

This is the inimitable King Diamond, the Danish-born banshee of Mercyful Fate, photographed at Sunset Station in San Antonio, TX on 14 May 2005 while fronting his eponymous band. This was during Sunset Station's peak as a concert venue; they'd just begun an agreement with House of Blues that brought in a ton of awesome metal shows over the course of three years or so. The Sunset Station photopit was one of my adopted homes during that time. 

 

  The first concert photo I took that made me proud. 

The first concert photo I took that made me proud. 

Some background info: I got into photography by sneaking single-use, throwaway cameras into concerts and snapping away. I enjoyed it at the time, but by no means are any of those photos worth sharing. I eventually acquired a Minolta X7A film SLR with a 50mm f/1.7 lens, which I used to shoot this image. Film was Fuji's amazing Superia Press, ISO 1600; exposure was f/1.7 @ 1/60. 

With some string-pulling and guidance from one Roy DoronI was able to bring my Minolta into this very pit to shoot the industrial band Ministry in 2004. It wasn't my first time in the pit with an SLR, but it was the first time I had even a modicum of knowledge as to what I was doing. The photos I took that night bear this out; I won't share them. But I'd been stung. 

I then linked up with a local music program called The Scene, which became instrumental in my growth as a photographer; my affiliation with The Scene let me into more photopits than I care to recount. I acquainted myself pretty closely with the Sunset Station photopit over the next few months, shooting such lumanaries as Slayer, Killswitch Engage, The Haunted, and Damageplan just a few weeks before Dimebag Darrell was murdered. 

Shooting Kind Diamond was tough. Those blurs you see flanking him were actually prison bars; they were removed at the end of the third song, which is when photographers are escorted from the pit. It's almost like they didn't want us to get great shots. 

I shot two rolls of 36 exposures each; this is the only image that was worth a damn. I loved it for so many reasons, but these days I love it because this was the first concert image I ever took that made me think I might not be so terrible at this.