The incomparable Tina Turner

Art Meripol

This shot is from Tina's 1985 "Private Dancer" tour. I thought I'd post this since she died this week. I shot a lot of concerts back in the 70's and 80's. I always went with two Nikon FM2 bodies and usually a 24mm and a 180mm and Tri-X for B&W and Ektachrome 400 for color when needed. The rule was that you got to shoot the first three songs. Credentials came via the record companies back then. It was rare that there was another photographer at a show. For this specific show instead of just shooting whatever happened on stage I went with a specific image in mind, some version of this shot. I wanted her looking down the barrel of the lens right at the viewer. I borrowed a friends Olympus 350mm 2.8 that had been modified to work on a Nikon.
This show was set up different. Instead of the usual photo pit there was just a small open area between stage and front row seats. I was 'provided' a handler and allowed to shoot the first 10 minutes instead of first three songs. I had to stand off to one side so I didn't block anyone. The handler made sure I followed the rules. That lens weighed 8lb and 10oz. or just over 4 kg. I could have pushed the Tri-X to 800 or 1600 but back then I just didn't want to sacrifice the quality for the speed. That left me hand holding this lens at f2.8 and trying like hell to keep her face in focus as she manically raced, kicked and danced across the stage. I knew I would be sacrificing a chance for a larger variety of shots but didn't care. I feel extremely fortunate I got this frame. She was strutting away from my position when she suddenly stopped and looked back across her shoulder at me. Since I was the only shooter at most shows it was not uncommon for an artist to spot me and check me out. I loved those shots where the subject is staring back at the viewer. I ended up with a lot of other shots but this one is the one that has always stood out to me. The pose, the mane of her wild wig, the lighting all conspired to work out for me. And even better, with that limited DOF I managed to get it in focus. So many of the artists I shot had been shot by so many great shooters and I always wanted a shot that was distinctive from everyone else's work.


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I can't imagine how I managed to focus this lens manually back then. I wouldn't dare try that today. TG For autofocus! My old eyes just don't work that way any more.
I know that feeling all too well. Mind you, I don’t think my reflexes were anywhere near as quick as yours even when my eyes were in good shape lol.
thanks Brian. Here's another from that show. Different but still Tina. Enjoyed looking at your site. Beautiful Architectural B&W.
That red in her hair and lipstick, plus the passion in her face,! Great stuff again, Art. (Thanks for your comment about my site. Much appreciated.)