If you are here for prints – here you go
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. Twenty One Pilots has been an interesting gig for me. Interesting in the best way possible. Usually, I photograph a band over and over in one location- so, for example, San Diego (my hometown). And then eventually we become friends and if we get along well they let me go on tour with them. It has had to change a lot recently. Over the past few years, I have been traveling frequently, and thus I have taken more of a guerrilla approach to my photography career.
Sure I could take the route where I hit up managers and labels and try to get paid gigs, but it’s much more fun traveling around and secretly stalking bands until they let me in as one of their own. That is what I BELIEVE has happened with Twenty One Pilots. I do know for a fact that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for their very own content creator/ videographer Mark aka Reel Bear Media, but I also like to think my efforts contributed as well.
You can see where and when I have photographed them based on our dropbox contents.
The first time I photographed them I was at a festival in Florida with ADTR and I snuck away for a few minutes to catch their set.
The second time in Ohio while they were playing the APMAs.
The third time I had a day off in Cleveland with A Day To Remember and they were playing across the river from us. So, I ran over and they let me shoot their show.
The fourth time I was at a festival in Las Vegas shooting for some DJs and I had some time off to photograph them.
The fifth time was in Diego, they needed someone last minute to cover their show and it was very close to my house.
The 6th and 7th time was the most recent in London- which I will tell you about… now.
Looking back at the first time I photographed these guys, I had no idea I would still be shooting them now. It is just not possible to predict these things. But I can say that if I didn’t photograph them that first time, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to photograph them any of the other six times. You have to start somewhere.
It’s important for me to be able to tell a story. This usually means starting with a band when they are small and checking in on them every so often to snag some nice photos. I like when the relationship grows steady. I have learned to recognize that every band works differently. In addition, they also want to work with photographers differently. I just try my best to make it work, no matter how easy or complicated the relationship may be.
Twenty One Pilots are great guys. Sometimes you love a band’s music and then you meet them and never want to work with them again. I can without a doubt say that this isn’t the case for these guys. After I photographed their San Diego show they both texted me to say thank you. Its small gestures like that that make me feel genuinely appreciated and are more rewarding than any amount of pay could ever be.
So this was the first time I was able to photograph their whole set, at a real venue, in a major city. To me, this is the best. London, New York City, Chicago, or hometown shows are always the best. On tøp of all this… it is a Twenty One Pilots concert. Their fans are some of the craziest.
I have been staying in London for a little bit. I am actually on my plane home from London right now. I headed over initially to photograph All Time Low’s UK tour and remained there for another month kind of doing my own thing and photographing a few shows. My girlfriend lives there so if I get a chance to stay there, I will. The Twenty One Pilots concert was only a short tube ride from my place. I headed over for the first show and left my gear there overnight, came back the next day and photographed the second show.
My gear for the concerts has become pretty routine now. I shot with one remote camera and one handheld. My remote camera lived on the balcony ledge for the first show, and at front of the house for the second show.
Twenty One Pilots are very theatrical. I would put them up there with Slipknot, however, they are just a step to the left in terms of audience and presentation. AKA they don’t wear scary masks, they wear fun ones, and there are not 94 band members, just 2. But their show has the tendency to make photographers look a lot better than they are. I mean how hard can it be to take a bad photo of a backflip? Or a drummer on top of the audience? It’s easy to get a good photo- the challenge is getting the perfect photo. I still don’t think I have gotten a perfect one, but every show I am trying a bit harder, and tweaking my technique a little bit more.
In addition, you have to look back at the big parts of the show (backflips, crowd surf, drumming on the crowd) and dig deeper. Obviously fans don’t just go to the show for these moments. The show would only be 2 minutes and then over. What are the fans there for? What else can you tell the world about their concert? What other moments can you freeze and help sink into the viewers’ soul? If you’re a fan- you probably don’t want to see the same backflip shot every show. You want to see other photographs that take you back in time to the Twenty One Pilots show.
So here is what I gathered this time, I think I did a pretty good job but I am excited for the next time I get to photograph them. As of now, it is looking like Reading and Leeds will be my next chance to photograph them.
SO help me, help me learn – the next time I photographer TØP
What can I do better?
What did I miss?
I want to get it all, I want to get the best. And although I may not have the luxury I am used to shooting this band every night on tour- I don’t think that is an excuse to not try and get the shots I really want.
I hope you enjoy, and thanks in advance for your help.
This was taken on the remote camera- I was in the pit, you could see the same shot from another angle at the end of the post