I traveled with All Time Low for a week in for their UK Arena Tour earlier this month. I did this exact same tour routing with them at about the same time last year – only this time it was their headlining tour. Last year it was co-headlining- so they were sharing it with another artist, You Me At Six. This affects me because it basically means all of that production that was split between artists can all be directed towards a single artist. More production = better opportunities for nicer photos. I was ecstatic that they did not have a giant video wall backdrop this year. As much as I love video walls, they are pretty hard on me as a photographer. Sometimes they live feed content or play music videos, and last year every single awesome jump shot I would get would have this freeze frame close up of some faces.
This year was different- It involved four moving diamonds in the back, each outfitted with their very own LED screens. This was huge for me because it meant I could shoot from the back of the stage. I was warned however that if one of those giant diamonds moved right onto the top of my head, I would soon leave this planet. I offered to wear a hard hat- as I would happily do this, I don’t want to do die before the tour is over! They said I should be fine, just make sure to really take note of where they are, and to watch myself between the songs. In addition to this, they had added a lot of pyro/fireworks and all that jazz. This meant for a few songs during the set I would not be allowed on stage. It is for my own good, as people and the outfits they wear can prove to be rather flammable. Just how flammable? You know, I am okay never knowing the answer to this. At least I don’t have any hair to singe.
Jeff Maker is the mastermind behind all this. He designed it all. This is him silhouetted by his creation. I don’t know what he calls this setup – he always has names, but I need to ask. Probably Massive Metal Porcupine Machine. I’ll put that in the suggestion box.
If you want some prints from this tour- there are still a few left in my store.
Basically this tour was designed to look amazing. And this made my job a lot easier- while at the same time a lot more difficult. There were a lot of places I needed to be and a lot of photos I needed to capture every night. So now that I knew what my job would consist of- I needed to figure out which tools I needed to make it happen. Here is what my gear looks like all packed up.
Here is what it looks like inside my Think Tank bag.
Here is what it looks like nicely laid out- well as nice as I could make it look. If you have any questions on the gear, just go to my gear page. It will list out everything for you.
They want us to get fat. Or at least never be healthy. This was what I had to say no to every day.
REHEARSAL DAY – All Time Low UK Arena Tour – Cardiff
Rehearsals are my favorite. It is my best chance to get great candid shots of the band truly existing in their moment. They take rehearsals very seriously- probably more seriously than their live show. It is essentially a dress rehearsal or the only time they get to practice their set with all of their production. You see they aren’t really used to fire, or pyro, or fireworks, or whatever you want to call it- it is rather new for them. They are a big band- but not that big. Each year they keep growing in popularity, and as popularity increases, their budgets for their shows increase as well. I like a band that puts their profits back into the show. It proves just how much they care about the fan’s experience. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever – you don’t meet better people in the industry than All Time Low.
BUT FIRST. Before rehearsals for the All Time Low UK Arena Tour, they ran a mile with Greg James and sat in an ice bath with him. It was funny.
Rehearsals are so nice. The lighting is beautiful and it is nice being around for such a private important event. In the future ideally, I would love to attend each artists’ rehearsals and their biggest and smallest shows. I like all the shows in between, it is just quite time-consuming to attend it all so I rather just be in extreme situations.
Day 1 – February 10th, 2016 at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, UK
My goal for this tour was to perfect my ability. In the past, I would take more of a “run around and get some nice shots” approach. Now, it is a little bit more of a science. I still leave a lot of room for art and fun – but the important shots are dialed in well before the show starts and are an important part of what I provide my clients with. I am referring to my remote camera images for the most part. You will be able to tell which images are shot with a remote because… they almost look like a painting. Everything in the image should be perfect and intentional. In addition, there will be multiple images from the same show, from the exact same angle. And even though the angle is exactly the same, the images are still very different. The next three shots.
You will notice throughout this blog I had a few different interns- well, one per day. This was an amazing experience for me because I always learn the most from the people that are just starting out. It was an experience where we could trade what we knew, or what we thought we know- and learn from each other. To find out how these people became my interns- check out this blog.
Day 2 – February 11th, 2016 at The O2 in London, UK – All Time Low UK Arena Tour
So like I said, I was trying to make a science out of my images. Which to me means – I want them 100%, maybe it’s more of math. I like science though so let’s go with science. In addition to the science, every night I would also shoot for some lucky shots. This means bald me running around in the photo pit trying to get some magical moments. I have enough shots of them doing everything they do on stage – I need it to be what they are doing, with perfect light, perfect background, perfect framing, and perfect color- it all needs to be perfect…. and unplanned.
So we have science and unplanned perfection. Sometimes science goes wrong, it’s an experiment every time. I have done most of the experiments and I can repeat them and create perfect images. For example, my camera at FOH – I have got that down. If I set a camera up at FOH I will always get good stage images – just like in the photographs above. Shots from above the stage? Not so much. I am still running experiments for this one and so many factors change for this shot at every venue that it can make things very difficult for me.
So as you will see below… I only captured one good image from this show with my remote camera. I got a few more images I that I turned in to the band- but that is only because turning three images in for one show would not be acceptable. Don’t get me wrong- the images that I turned in are not bad. But they are not perfect, and I want to capture what I feel is perfect. So I got one from my remote camera up top, and then two from my handheld. Handheld images are mostly about luck. So the shot from the pit below was just luck, combined with a good sense of what goes on and when it happens during the show. The one from the backup stage with the whole crowd in it, I knew that was coming… so it is kind of half science, half handheld.
Day 3 – February 12th, 2016 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK
One of the coolest things about their stage was that the background moved throughout the show. Those giant diamonds I spoke of earlier- I could attach a camera to them, and I did. Now when I usually set up a remote camera it stays in the same spot for the whole show, but because these moved… it didn’t. So it allowed me to get different angles from the back of the stage. You can see this in the images below.
Day 4 – February 13th, 2016 at Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, UK
I shot this day all handheld- so it was a big day of *I hope I get some lucky perfect images*. Jack requested some jumping images with fire… so I had to get some jumping fire photos.
Rian is wearing a Rule of Thirds shirt!
Day 5 – February 15th, 2016 at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, UK
We usually choose one day during the tour to take some full band/crew images on stage. We start with everyone and slowly break it down into subgroups until just the band is left. It’s really hard to get a full band together when they aren’t on stage – because off stage they are doing their own personal lives all day. It comes down to scheduling a time nowadays in order to get photos like this.
That is all I have for now. I am working on writing more – but if there are any questions you have or anything you think I can do better. Please ask, please tell me. I never take any criticism as an attack and I am honestly just looking to continue improving and growing as a photographer. I would love to hear what you guys have to say. You know the drill, comment below.