When I get the e-mail to go and photograph Twenty One Pilots because my good friend Brad Heaton was not available, I jump at it. Brad and I go way back, I am a huge fan of is. I always tell all my music photographer friends – if you need someone to come cover for you, leave a good impression, and not steal your job, I am the guy. I love helping my friends and feel honored when they hit me up. It means they trust me as much as I trust them, and what a nice relationship to have with another creative. Anyway, thank you Brad – and thank you to the band’s visual everything, Mark Eschleman for working his ass off to get me out there.
I was doing an interview the other day and she asked me “So do you sign contacts when you work for an artist?”. I responded, “No”. She responded confused, so how do you know what you are going to do when you get out there? I was unexpectedly just as confused as her. How the hell do I figure out what I am supposed to do? Haha. I thought for a moment and explained to her, they just know what they are getting when they hire me. They tell me where to be and when to be there, and how many images they want each day. See the thing is, I just get hired to document whatever the hell people are already doing. I don’t actually interact with what is happening (except for the occasional shoot for a publication) I just exist while it happens. Direction is not something I need much of. Now I don’t say this in a cocky way, just with confidence. People know what they are getting when they hire me. I make their jobs easier, and they do not really have to worry about me.
Anyway for this job it was. Come to London, photograph two rehearsal days, shoot a cover for Kerrang! And shoot a live show. We need content for publications and socials. So that is what I did. I have been working with Twenty One Pilots for awhile now. Just catching a show here and there when I can. I also took a moment to visit my friend in Parliament and have tea with him. He even took me to see Theresa May speak, it was awesome.
My gear for the two days. I had a few other lenses as well. I went with a Sigma 20mm f/ 1.4 Art for wide shots and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 for my zoom images. In addition, I had the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and 85mm f/1.4 Art for rehearsal shots. I always try to use primes when time is not an issue. The rehearsal was all day for two days, so plenty of time for me to geek out and use em. However, when it came to showtime, I stuck with a reliable 70-200mm because I just could not afford to miss shots. Remember, lenses are tools and you always need to use the best tool for the job.
September 10th & 11th – O2 Academy Brixton – London, UK
Rehearsals are my favorite. I think I enjoy them more than the live show for just about every selfish reason possible. Don’t get me wrong – Twenty One Pilots are nothing short of amazing. But give me mood lighting and a room full of haze and only two subjects to focus. Holy crap this was a blast.
During a normal live show or rehearsals – there is a lot of junk on stage. There is a bunch of it, but it is such beautiful junk with them. Everything, even the lights – just look so perfect. The haze also adds a wash of light over every surface. With enough fast movements of my feet combined with being in the right place at the right time. I am really able to create the images I want in these settings.
This venue is a blank stage. Meaning everything on the stage is pout there by the artist. The sound system, the lights, the instruments – nothing is provided. So I walk into this room where they had most of it set up and the band goes to rehearsing. Rehearsals consist of artists running through songs with their team to make sure everyone is on the same page with the production and fire and lights and all that jazz. It is very fun for me to witness. It is quite the opposite of a normal show setting. It is slow, relaxed, the lights do not change as fast. Like I already said – as long as I can move to the spot I want to shoot from quick enough, there isn’t any reason why I can’t get all the shots I want in these scenarios.
Sometimes when I am with an artist I get asked to do their publication shots for them. Some publications send out photographers, some artists provide their own. It really varies on a client by client basis. For this particular situation, I was doing the shoot. We did the shoot in about one hour in various areas of the venue. I only had speedlite and a flash disc for light. I ended up using natural light for this first setup and artificial for the other.
Trench Live Show
September 13th – O2 Brixton Academy – London, UK
Twenty One Pilots live show is bonkers. I have a setlist with so many notes on it from this show. The plus side of being there for rehearsals, is I get to map out the show. Of course, a bunch of things are not planned during the live show. But if you are going to have fire coming out of a car, you better know where you can and can’t be during that time – and I take note. It helps me during the live show. I can then plan okay do I want to be in the pit for this shot, or at front of house zoomed in to the full stage. Is this a good time for me to run to the top floor of the venue and try to get a full crowd shot?
Alright, we have to shout out to Tyler Shapard here. All of my photographs are possible because of him. He is just amazing and his work is so beautiful. If he doesn’t exist, none of my images could even begin to be where they are at. His taste in color is so on point, I feel guilty if I even touch the hue slider in lightroom. I just have to let his colors show. So thank you to Mr. Sharpard, I appreciate you. The fans love you, and the band needs you. Coffee on me next time I see you. Please join me on my podcast sometime. Let’s talk about lighting a show as magnificent as this.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed viewing the images as much as I enjoyed creating them. I know I am a music photographer, but more importantly – I am a lover of all photography. Let’s be friends. Hit me up on some social network. Tell me about your work. I would love to see it.