Earlier today, the great gospel quartet The Fairfield Four graced the stage of the Coolidge Auditorium, and I was fortunate enough to take photos of them. I thought I’d share a few of them here as “pics of the week.”
A Cappella singing groups are often hard to photograph, because they stand in a straight line behind their microphones. Images shot from one side do a great job of capturing the singer closest to the camera, so you’ll often see us photographers hanging out for half the show at stage left and half at stage right! I’ve also found that shooting with the camera held at an angle not only adds some drama to the shot, it can sometimes get all the singers in the frame in situations where a right-angle shot can’t. Although some of the singers will be obscured and out of focus, the technique still helps the photo tell a story of teamwork rather than individual singing, harmony rather than soloing, which is often what these groups are all about. In the first shot, bass singer Joe Thompson dominates the shot as he leads in singing the group’s hit from the film O Brother Where Art Thou, “The Lonesome Valley.”
My second shot, from the other side of the stage, captures Leveret Allison pointing toward heaven to give thanks to God, another big part of the group’s gospel message:
These shots from one end of the stage do have a disadvantage: they leave the “men in the middle” out of focus, so I’ve included a shot of each of them below, out of respect for their great singing and forceful stage presence: Bobbye Sherrell is on the left and Larrice Byrd Sr. is on the right.
It’s a fun fact that, in their concert today, The Fairfield Four sang one of the same songs that the great gospel group The Golden Gate Quartet sang on the same stage in December 1940. When the video of their performance becomes available, I’ll write a blog presenting both versions to compare. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!