In an earlier blog, I mentioned that by shooting concerts, I’d found a way to merge my love of music with my love of photography. It many ways, it’s like the perfect cocktail. A little sweet, a little bitter, and the experience leaves your head feeling light and buzzy for a few hours after the lights come up and the last cables are rolled and in their travel boxes.
Through the years, I’ve gotten to shoot some amazing artists, like George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, George Porter, Jr., Adrian Belew, and Drivin’ n Cryin.’ Those experiences have a lot of fun, and sometimes a lot of stress. No matter how it ends, I’m always looking forward to what comes next. So, the question now is:
WHAT COMES NEXT?
This seems like a great time to write it all down and talk about the kinds of shows I enjoy shooting. And, to talk about the shows I’d love to shoot this year and in years to come and why they’re on my bucket list.
There are two distinct kinds of concert shoots that I like, and I like them for different reasons. First, there are the concerts. These are headliner shows that take place in venues of all sizes where we might get one or two opening bands before the headliner performs the last set or sets of the night. Then, there are the festivals, where lots of artists perform on several stages and the music goes on for several days in a row. Each of these is an experience unto its own, and I love both for different reasons.
Headliner shows are usually one night, one venue, and the biggest challenge of the night is catching just the right shot in unpredictable lighting while not blocking the crowd’s view of the show, and doing that in three songs or less using no flash. That’s right, three songs or less. Can it be done? Absolutely!!! Is it easy? Nope! That’s what makes it fun.
Festival shows are an entirely different animal. There are lots of bands, usually two or more stages, sometimes it’s a hike between them, sets can overlap, the crowds can be maddening, and the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Sometimes it rains, and you just have to bag your camera and put on a trash bag before you slide through the mud to the next stage. Festivals are about planning, being flexible, getting super-creative, and working with what you’ve got. There are a lot of moving parts. There is also a lot of personal reward when you find that perfect shot of the event.
I’ve got a giant bucket list of “SHOWS I’D LOVE TO SHOOT.” Where do we start? Let’s just put the first 10 on the list (in no particular order) up here to ponder.
SWEETWATER 420 FESTIVAL – The SweetWater 420 Festival began as a way for the SweetWater Brewing Company to celebrate its three biggest passions at one time – beer, music, and the environment. The three-day festival is celebrated near Earth Day and has been inviting some of the most prolific touring artists in music to grace its stages. This year’s lineup includes Primus, Snoop Dogg, Gov’t Mule, Cage the Elephant, and Moe., and there’s something for everyone on the bill.
SHAKY KNEES FESTIVAL – Celebrating its third birthday in 2015, Shaky Knees is a pretty young festival, but the lineups they’ve been able to attract are top-notch. With Flogging Molly, Tame Impala, Mastodon, Neutral Milk Hotel, Social Distortion, and The Pixies in the lineup, this is a festival that’s crammed with more photo opportunities than a photographer will know what to do with. This year’s Shaky Knees will be held in Atlanta’s Central Park in the Old Fourth Ward.
EARTH DAY BIRTHDAY – As one of Orlando’s longest running music festivals, EDBD is in a prime location at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Sponsored by 101.1 WJRR Radio, the lineup for EDBD 22 is loaded up with face melting music, and features All That Remains, Buckcherry, HELLYEAH, Bush, Slash, and Five Finger Death Punch. Who doesn’t want to be in the photographer pit for a show like this? Not only is it primed for great music, but the crowd surfers and mosh pits are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Photo opportunities galore abound!
DUMPSTAPHUNK – In a single word – FUNK. If I get to add two more – TWO BASSISTS. There’s not much better than that.
HALESTORM – Lzzy Hale, of course. She has an interesting, unique, and irreverent way of looking at things and I think she’d be a blast to shoot (and to interview).
2CELLOS – Hard rock and metal music. On CELLOS.
RUSH – As a bassist, I’ve been a Geddy Lee fan my entire life. To be able to shoot a RUSH show would be almost as good as seeing each of my babies for the first time.
PRIMUS – A Primus show isn’t just a concert, it’s an art installation. The show, the music, the sets, and the atmosphere don’t duplicate, but they’re always entertaining.
PAUL McCARTNEY – To shoot a McCartney show would be, in my mind, to shoot an historic event. Sir Paul is an icon in the music industry, and I’d love the opportunity to capture a piece of his magic for posterity’s sake.
That’s a good start, I think. It’s most definitely not all of the shows I want to shoot, but they’re the ten that are first up on the list. Keep an eye out here to see who else makes the list and who says yes!
Also, keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming series of blog posts that are all about the bass. The ten minutes of awesome that I was able to spend with Lige Curry from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic whetted my appetite for more of the secrets behind the sound that makes your butt shake. I’ve already started lining up interviews with some pretty amazing bassists that’ll be coming shortly after my return from Gerald Veasley’s Bass Boot Camp. If you’re thinking that Mr. Veasley might be on that interview list, you might be right! Stay tuned to see what’s coming.
If you’re a bassist who would like to participate in this series, send me a message and let’s talk. Bonus if you’re going to be playing in Atlanta and we can talk about me shooting your show in addition to an interview. You can find me here at my email, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.