A few weeks back, when I was four days out from heading to Shanghai/Hong Kong for a round of ad agency meetings, I get a call from my buddy at Rolling Stone asking if I was around the following Monday. The call went something like this..
Me: “No, unfortunately, i’ll already be on a plane, but just out of curiosity, who were you going to ask me to shoot?”
RS: “Roger Waters rehearsing for an upcoming show in New York.”
Me: “Wow, well thanks for thinking of me anyway.”
…and I hang up.
…5 minutes pass…I realize I’m an idiot…I call them back..
Me: So you haven’t found anyone yet, have you?”
Long story short, I was able to change my flight without too much of an issue, and had the opportunity to spend almost an hour and a half in a NYC rehearsal studio, with Roger Waters, GE Smith, and about thirty injured military personnel- who were all great musicians in their own right.
The project was for a benefit show at Madison Square Garden, called Stand Up for Heroes- a fundraiser to help support veterans who have returned home battling physical injuries, depression, unemployment, substance abuse, etc. A very good cause, to say the least.
Whenever shooting editorially, it’s rare that more than a single frame or two are used, so wanted to share a few more of my favorites here…
Earlier this Summer, I headed out to the All Good Music Festival, in Thornville, OH. The plan was to set up a backstage artist portrait studio, and I somehow convinced my good buddy Jeff Harmon, to come along for the ride.
Our setup was essentially a daylight studio, but I also packed a large Octa and Ranger pack, just in case I should need it. Though I had most of the bands confirmed for a shoot, I hadn’t completely nailed down a time for Primus. Their management responded to my request, but was unsure of their schedule on the day of show (as often happens- especially with headliners).
I introduced myself to Jay Lane (Primus’ drummer), as he was the first band member to arrive– and actually ended up crashing in his RV, when a violent storm hit the festival grounds- Thanks Jay!
Once the rest of the crew arrived, I introduced myself their tour manager and explained what I was hoping to do. (Note: I always stress that I won’t take up much of their time, and can have them in and out as quickly as they need to be– especially with the bigger acts). He was happy to try and help me out, but said that the guys would really prefer to only be photographed in their stage attire..meaning that they’d come over to my set just before going on.
Their set time was 10:50PM, and I was told he’d bring the band over at 10:40. Of course, this wasn’t exactly ideal (so much for the daylight studio), but I thanked him, and started testing. Unknowns like this are exactly why I packed the Octa and Ranger pack.
(There’s one of my first tests with Jeff. The Octabank was up about 9′ high, camera right, at about a 45 degree angle).
As with any important shoot, especially of someone notable, things can sometimes get a bit tense as the time approaches, and before I knew it, 10:40 had come and gone. Then comes 10:41, 10:42, 10:45, 10:46….this is when I looked at Jeff, started shaking my head and basically said that it wasn’t happening.
All of the sudden (at 10:47), the tour manager and band walked out of their RV, and over to me. He apologized, and said, “We’re running really late, and it’s not gonna happen..sorry man. Maybe we can do it after the show?” Though I’m sure I didn’t look overly amused, I of course said that I’d keep everything set up til after their set (1AM).
He walked back over to the band, had a quick conversation, then looked back at me, and said “Can you do it NOW?” I of course answered appropriately, and ran over to wake up the Ranger pack.
The guys walked right over to my set (only about 20 feet from their RV), stepped into place, and I shot…8 frames in 17 seconds.
At this point, their tour manager clapped his hands, and the guys walked off set with a quick thank you, and directly to the stage.
It was undoubtedly the quickest formal portrait shoot I’ve ever done, but ended up with a couple of frames I’m really happy to have.
Though I barely got to introduce myself on-set, I did get to grab a beer with Les and Jay afterwards. They were genuinely great guys, and I can’t thank them enough for helping me to make this happen.
A HUGE thanks to the amazing Alan Hess for throwing me a bone, and bridging a well-needed introduction