As 2008 comes to a close, one simple sentiment sums it all up for me: it's been a great year. 2008 has been filled with fantastic events, exciting opportunities, and the chance to connect with great people. Here's a rundown of some of what we've been up to at ishootshows.com in 2008.
2008 was off with an exciting start with my first gallery show in January, a solo exhibit where I had the opportunity to display ten pieces of concert photography. I couldn't have thought of a better way to kick off the year than the exhibit's opening, which was the first of many events that made this year so memorable.
In May, I had the pleasure of photographing Radiohead, an event that was exceedingly good to me in terms of opening doors and gaining publication. The high point of this coverage was placement of an image from the show as a double-page spread in SPIN's Soundcheck section, which marked my first major publication.
Other highlights to follow in 2008 included placements in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press, and Harper's Bazaar.
House Photographer for the Chaifetz Arena
In April, I was contacted by the general manager of the newly constructed Chaifetz Arena, a 10,600-capacity, multi-use venue, about the position of house photographer. A week later, I shot the arena's inaugural event, Barry Manilow, as the house photographer.
Over the rest of 2008, I had the opportunity to photograph artists such as Lil Wayne, Carrie Underwood, and Stevie Nicks in the new position.
My first shoot of 2009 will be at the Chaifetz Arena, once again photographing Lil Wayne on his “I Am Music” tour.
My First Rolling Stone Assignment
At the end of June, I was contacted by Rolling Stone to photograph Warped Tour for an online feature. Aside from getting to introduce myself as a photographer for Rolling Stone (I have to say, it felt good), one of the best and most interesting parts of the assignment was the task of delivering a number of backstage portraits.
These portraits, many of which were arranged and shot under very tight schedules, would later spur me on to pursue band portaits with a keen enthusiasm toward the end of the year.
My First CD Cover
September Will Kick Your Butt, Part 1
In terms of interesting twists, September was the full of the most dramatic. During that month, I wrapped up negotiations with Live Nation and Dave Matthews Band for use of one of my images as album art, which marked my first CD cover.
The image was made when Dave Mathews Band performed at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. After shooting the first three songs, a few photographers were allowed to shoot from the upper deck, looking back over the field to the stage and the skyline.
Official Festival Photographer
September Will Kick Your Butt, Part 2
A few days later, I photographed Pointfest 23, an all-day radio station-sponsored music festival, where I acted as the event's official photographer.
In addition to photographing a number of live acts, this gig was a great opportunity to do quick portraits with a number of bands, including Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, Apocalyptica, Puddle of Mudd, and others.
The Best Job In The World
September Will Kick Your Butt, Part3
The day after Pointfest, I flew out to New York City to photograph the Laurie Berkner Band at Avery Hall in Lincoln Center. I covered the group's two back to back performances and delivered a set of images for promotional use. The Laurie Berkner Band makes fantastically catchy music for children and the two performances marked the release of their latest CD.
While I was short on sleep from the festival job the day before, and spent as much time in airplanes and in airports as I was in NYC, the assignment was an incredible experience for a number of reasons.
One aspect of the job that made it so incredible for me was that I had no prior contact with the band, their label, or publicist. Rather, it was word of mouth that connected the group to me. When I found this out, I was a little blown away – I think I owe someone a very fancy business lunch.
While Laurie Berkner Band rocks a slightly different demographic than those at my normal events, the Avery Hall gigs symbolize where I'd love to be in the near future in terms of contracted event coverage, and makes me excited to see what 2009 will bring.
Encouraged by experiences at Warped Tour and Pointfest, I set up a number of portrait shoots toward the end of the year. Rather than backstage festival sessions, these were scheduled with bands farther in advance and negotiated with management.
One great thing about the experience of setting up these shoots was the higher level of access and trust granted by the bands' publicists, and it was a pleasure working more closely with the people representing these groups.
While I feel at home in the pit, band promos and group portraits are new territory for me, and I'm incredibly excited about the opening to expand my experience in this area in 2009. We're going full-service, folks.
In all, I photographed about 103 events this year, ranging from small basement shows to multi-day, multi-stage festivals. Among the larger acts I covered this year, I had the privilege of photographing Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, NIN, Bruce Springsteen, and Metallica.
While it's impossible to include images from every show or even all of my favorites, here are a few images I made over the last year.
Articles and Tutorials
In addition to the regular write-ups of the events I cover, I posted a number of articles and tutorials on concert photography. Thanks to you, the readers, I've had the great pleasure of watching ishootshows.com grow to host some great discussions on these posts.
Here's a selection of some of these features:
For 2009, I have a number of new articles planned, including a comprehensive tutorial on concert photography.
To everyone who comments on posts, helps answers questions, and is otherwise engaged in this site, I owe you my sincerest thanks. You make ishootshows.com a joy to write.
To all the publicists, managers, and editors I've worked with over the last year, thank you for all you've done; my work wouldn't be possible without you.
Happy new year from ishootshows.com!
PS: If you have any suggestions for features or other content you'd like to see here in the new year, I'd love to hear from you!