Three Days With Major Lazer

Three Days on Tour with Major Lazer…. I’ve been working on this forever. Kind of. When I start working on something, I never know what it is until I end up at wherever I am now. So for example when I photographed him for the first time in London is wasn’t because I wanted to tour with him- I mean I did, but I photographed him because I want to photograph him. Make sense? I think if you do things because you want something to work out a certain way you have already lost. It’s a tricky balance though, because you have to have drive to succeed – what is your success? For me it’s shooting and enjoying what I am shooting. That is is my favorite. So weather it’s my first of many or my last of just a few, I enjoy each one regardless of what may or may not come next. Say I did everything I have done up to this point but I didn’t get this small three day tour. That’s chill. I am not let down- I wasn’t expecting anything.

November 9th, 2013 – London Brixton concert – and DJ set – blog

Major Lazer in London

July 15th, 2014 – San Diego Sun God Festival

Mysteryland in New York July 24th, 2015 – blog


September 25th, 2015 – Life Is Beautiful Fest in Las Vegas

There it is. Now we are here. That is how my job works. I had to explain this to my Uber driver on the way to the airport and it was fun. I think we came to the conclusion that you just have take steps that send you in the right direction, you don’t know how they will work out in the end, but you know you are at least headed in the right direction and that is all that matters.

I get all of my jobs through word of mouth and friends. I value this way of working and tend to try and stick with it when possible. Very rarely will I take a tour that is just a random person requesting my services. I just don’t enjoy it, and I want to work with people – not for them. I want people who are familiar with my work and I, familiar with theirs.

Pack a little, shoot a lot

Pack a little, shoot a lot

That makes it worth it to me, it makes it valuable and meaningful and it is in within these emotions that I find my passion for photography really explodes – blossoms? Blooms? Flourishes? You know what I’m saying.

I am happy. I haven’t been happy for awhile, or liked my work for a long time, it comes in waves. Right now is a good one. I don’t know how long it will last but I’m gonna soak it up while it is here and try my best to keep it around indefinitely.

Outfits for tour

Outfits for tour

Anyway tour with Major Lazer.

I haven’t actually done it yet. I am currently on the flight to Miami. I don’t know what to expect really. I am excited to witness their lifestyle and learn about the culture I know very little of. I look forward to all the mistakes i am going to make and everything I am going to learn.

My flight was interesting. Well no it wasn’t, that is a lie. Or rather, it’s an incorrect to say but not technically a lie. I was sitting in the back of the plane and by the time they got to me, they had ran out of chicken caesar wraps. I was very hungry but the lady next to me was kind and gave me two bags of veggies.

It’s been two days. I am still on the road. Well… I’m in the air, I’m on a flight from Tampa to Boston. It’s been amazing so far. I am not very close with the artists as I have just met them, but I feel I can relate to their lifestyle choices. I am not talking about what people usually refer to with lifestyle choices, I don’t mean cigs and alcohol or whatever else falls under the umbrella. I am talking about their go! go! go! attitude. If we have off time we are doing something. If we have a few minutes before getting food we are going to snap a photo in the street. I can really relate to this mindset. I like it.

In the streets of ... Tampa

In the streets of … Tampa

I don’t know how to fit this in the blog. But the afternoon before our first show we hung out in the pool at the hotel. It was a nice pool.

Pool life with Anita

Pool life with Anita

Poolside with Diplo

Poolside with Diplo

So we did our first show in Miami, it was a private event for Bacardi, terrible for shooting but did manage to make Wes a tiny bit late for press so we could grab some photos. We walked over the the water before his press appointment and I said let’s go out on this half submerged walkway and take some photos. Usually an artist I work with would object as they don’t want to get dirty/ wet etc. Without hesitation he was ready to jump in the water with his shoes on. I told him it would probably be a better idea to take em off…and pointed out the fact he shouldn’t get them wet as he, well – he needs to wear his shoes! He went over the moves that would take to get to the walkway – ”it’ll be a one, two, three steps and I’ll jump on it”. We eventually decided together that we would go shoeless and roll our pants up.

I dont look cool, but this at least gives you an idea of where we were at. Photo by my friend Kyle.

this at least gives you an idea of where we were at. Photo by my friend Kyle.

Portrait on the water with Diplo

Portrait on the water with Diplo

Careful now

Got it. We are off to a good start. I was excited. I love working with people who like to work. And it’s not even work, it’s the desire to be better, desire to do more – purpose to …life. Did we just get a bit corny? And with this purpose in life you are never bored. I like not being bored. Don’t you?

So the party that night was cool. I enjoyed it. I had no idea what to expect but it was a fun time. A fun time in which I created absolutely no photographs that feel stoked enough about to share.

You see – with most artists when we get back to the hotel I usually edit photos and go to bed. With Wes it’s a bit different. It’s “wait until he falls asleep” cause you never know when he will want to keep doing life.

That night we went to a club. I call it a club but I learned later it is called a Dancehall. I apologize in advance if I get anything wrong here with terminology or something of the sort- I honestly know nothing about this type of music and culture. I am learning. We get picked up at the hotel and meet up with someone at the club, walk in through an alleyway and eventually enter a dimly lit, humid club packed with people dancing. I brought earplugs cause otherwise my ears hurts so I put those in and I had no idea what kind of music they were playing. I mean I could hear the music. But I didn’t know the genre it belonged to. All I know is everyone was very happy and having a good time.

Dancehall with Diplo

Dancehall with Diplo

People were dancing amazing dances. I don’t know anything about them but it looked beautiful and spontaneous. After a hour of so of hanging out I noticed a few things…

– Dance moves weren’t random, was all intentional
– No one there judged you, everyone just having a good time
– This fire thing they were doing was amazing but when I asked to do it they said no haha… probably a good idea

I love this photo

I love this photo

I had 3 sips of beer. The night was rad. Ill let the photos do the talking.

Back to the hotel after this by 4:00am and I was asleep by 5:00am, up by 9:00am. I thought I would have trouble not sleeping much but I was so amped on what we were doing it didn’t even phase me.

We went to some press stuff for lunch.

Lunch candid during an interview

Lunch candid during an interview

Then a museum. I wasn’t able to shoot in the museum but we took a few photos outside of it. I wanted to do a full band shoot but we got kicked out of that too.

Walshy Fire

Walshy Fire

We drove to Tampa that day and stopped at a gas station on the way.

Circle K snack stops will cut down on your life expectancy

Circle K snack stops will cut down on your life expectancy

We arrived around 7:30 – did the photo shoot in the street I mentioned above, ate at 8:00, hotel by 9:00, hotel room by 9:15 – and then we left for the shot by 9:30. I love the pace of everything.

Street of Tampa, Black and White version

Street of Tampa, Black and White version

Crew

Jillionaire

Jillionaire

 

The fest was chill. We rolled up, went to stage, and then back to the dressing room for everyone to get ready. I ran into some friends of mine – a guy from my gym back in San Diego, an old tour manager for ONE OK ROCK – and actually that is it.

The show was very difficult for me to shoot. I made away with some ones. DJ festivals have a lot more things for me to climb on, on stage. So I loved that aspect of it.

Major Lazer live at Sunshine Festival in Tampa, Florida

Major Lazer live at Sunrise Festival in Tampa, Florida

we do this for each show

we do this for each show

Walshy Fire

Walshy Fire

After the show it is back to the hotel to edit images and hang out, be ready to go out , should we go out. We didn’t go out.

If I had never toured before this, I would be kicked off before the first day was over. Maybe it is just me who takes forever to learn – but touring is very difficult for me. I still struggle with it daily. I have a hard time reading people, or maybe I read too deeply into them sometimes. But some of the things over the years that I have found to be very important are on tour-

It all comes down to how you handle yourself. You always have to be ready for the next two things that will happen. For example if I am working out in the morning, I also need to be ready for breakfast, and to leave. And by the time I go to breakfast I need to be ready to travel to airport and shoot at airport. Once I am at the airport I need to be ready for security and sitting on the plane (what gear will stay with me, what goes overhead). I need to figure out if I take some time to myself on the flight or do I have any work to do. All the while I need to be shooting and making sure I am not too invasive while at the same time documenting what happens. Travel can be tricky, people need their space, but everything also needs to be photographed as well. I also need to make sure that I look presentable for the day, I am healthy, I am carrying my gear correctly, I don’t talk with people too much, while at the same time coexisting. These things come natural to some people – but they don’t come natural to me. A lot of them are social, and socializing can be rough for me. I say embarrassing things sometimes – it is never intentional. I just say things that sound correct in my head but when they come out the unintentionally insult or come off as rude to someone. I constantly struggle with this. How did I end up here? The gist of it is there is a lot going on internally and externally at all times and it doesn’t make for a very easy job. You always have to be ready for what can – could – and will happen.

I woke up early and got a run/ swim in at the hotel, ate a good breakfast, missed seeing John Cena in our hotel lobby but met some of Wes’ family and that was cool. We headed to the airport and it was an easy flight to Boston and my first time flying with the whole team. I am not used to having everything taken care of and down to such a beautifully coordinated math. Rides to and from the airport are always there exactly on time, no time is spent waiting anywhere. Hotel keys are ready when we get to the hotel and… this team is very pro. I love it.

How to dry your swimsuit in a hotel room

How to dry your swimsuit in a hotel room

We stayed at a nice hotel. I am used to nice hotels, but this one had a fire place and that was quite pleasant as it was cold and the fire was relaxing. It also had a chocolate dipped dried apricot which I would gladly eat everyday of my life.

That afternoon I went to the gym with Wes – he is very good at working out, I am not. I look up all my workouts on my phone before I do them because I struggle with learning workouts. But I love it and I love how it makes me feel.

Walk stroll

Walk stroll

After we got food… well we got lost, then we took a Lyft, then we got food – then I spilled Indian food all over myself and it legit looked like someone shat on my chest and smeared it all over my stomach and lap. I had a moment where I thought damn. I don’t actually give a shit that this happened to me. It just happened. I don’t even care. I’ll walk around with this all day. Wes didn’t care, he laughed, but it is what I is. When i was younger, and by younger I mean everything before that moment – I think I would have cared. I don’t know why, but I think I just cared more about what other people think. I just don’t care anymore.

Indian food in Boston

Indian food in Boston

After that I went back to hotel and got ready for the fest. We went to the grounds and watched Cage The Elephant. I love Cage the Elephant. I didn’t know I loved them two weeks prior to this, but I did. Set time after that.

Portraits of the very talented Major Lazer dancers

Portraits of the very talented Major Lazer dancers

Portraits of the very talented Major Lazer dancers

Portraits of the very talented Major Lazer dancers

Damn, it is hard to shoot. This was my first time shooting a full Major Lazer set with all their production and dancers. Holy crap there is a lot going on. I love it. I learn so much. I hadn’t been practicing for the past ten years, I don’t think I could do this. I have a lot of respect to his other photographers. The set was fun. I ran around a lot. I love dancing. I used to Israeli folk dance when I was a kid and my mom tells me I was really good but I think it was just incredibly easy which may be a reflection into my skill or could be just that it is very easy. Anyway, I respect good dancers and Major Lazer has some of the best and most interesting dance moves.

Anita

Anita

Helen

Helen

Sara

Major Lazer live at Boston Calling festival

Major Lazer live at Boston Calling festival

I only work with bands who crawl over the crowd in water walkers

I only work with bands who crawl over the crowd in water walkers

Not my favorite shot (for photographer reasons), but necessary image

Not my favorite shot (for photographer reasons), but necessary image

Back to the hotel right after the set, download photos, set up my gear for a party that night. It was a private party for the Harvard Lampoon or something of the sort. It was otherworldly, I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the inside, but the area where he was DJ’ing was allowed. It felt otherworldly. I don’t really even know how to explain this place but I’ll take a jab. 4 story Harry Potter-esque building with a force perspective table, a bunch of self-run bars, a lot of young Harvard students smoking cigarettes inside. The DJ booth was on the top floor, and one floor below were about 100 of them dancing on a table. It felt otherworldly. They got mad at me and demanded my SD card but I am not trying to get fired on my third day with Major Lazer so I kept my SD card and that was that. Usually Diplo is scheduled to play for about an hour at these event, but it usually goes for about 3:00 – I had a lot of fun. His friends are always so welcoming and kind it is really just a good group of people to be around. I have a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it.

The next morning I took a flight back to San Diego. It was a long travel day but was happy to be home. I like Major Lazer.

POSTED BY Adam Elmakias

Adam Elmakias is a music photographer based out of San Diego, California. He spends most of his time doing stuff with cameras. Adam wrote this himself, not someone else. I am Adam.

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