Music Photography Blog

by Adam Elmakias

Umm…Sweet Brag

I know it’s been awhile, you can blame the mass amounts of photos I had to process after I got back from tour. I apologize in advance for my flawed grammar.

The tour laminate for the Sweet Brag tour

Here is what my tour routing looked like ::

View Route

March 11th :: Madison, Wisconsin => Dayton, Ohio

decided to take the cheap, but time consuming route, a Greyhound bus. 6:35am Madison…10:30 Chicago…4:00pm Indianapolis…6:05 Dayton. It was definitely a long day, but no worries, because I read the only series of books I can really convince myself to read, the Bathroom Reader series. Five hundred plus fun filled pages of pure trivia and history, and there are twenty-two editions of these bad boys. Seriously, get one. The full name is Uncle John’s Extraordinary Book of Facts: (insert edition’s clever title).

Once I arrived in Dayton, Zac Fisher, being the nice guy he is, picked me up from the Greyhound station. We met up with Taylor Foiles and got some Panera Bread. I used to work at Panera, and I still eat there, because it is the best restaurant to ever be created. If you think otherwise, well you are wrong. Bacon Turkey Bravo for life.

March 12th :: Dayton, Ohio

Taylor was nice enough to put me up at his place. His house is an old hospital, so it has a bunch of different rooms, and half of them aren’t even in use. It’s a dream come true for any photographer that shoot on location. The next morning we rocked Steak n’ Shake. Which, for the record, is the second best restaurant to ever exist. Frisco Melt for life. What’s a frisco melt you ask? And I quote “Frisco Melt: Two Steakburger™ patties with American and Swiss cheese topped with our tangy Frisco sauce between slices of grilled sourdough bread. Served with tomato and fresh lettuce.” Unfortunately the closest Steak n’ Shake is fifty minutes from my house.

Now Taylor is in a touring band called Let’s Get It, so both he and I were getting ready for tour. We made a trip to Wal-mart, Target, and Office Depot to get some tour essentials (shirts, batteries, toothbrush). Next we were going to head of to the bus, so I could get all my gear loaded on, however no one was on the bus. To kill some time Taylor introduced me to Skyline chili. I thoroughly enjoy good food, and this place was perfect. Go there.
Any places you suggest eating on my next tour? (tour dates on the left) food is number one on my list.

March 13th :: Dayton, Ohio => Plano, Texas

Around 1:00am I got on the bus, and met everyone. I already knew all the guys in the band, however there were five crew members I had only met briefly prior to this tour. In total, there were thirteen people riding on the bus, not including the bus driver. The six guys in the band, Robert the tour manager, Ben the sound guy, Wiggly the guitar tech, Steven the drum tech, Vern the light guy, and Paul the merch guy.

Finally my first tour in a bus, I can start focusing on my hygiene in addition to my photography for once. We left for Plano, Texas at 2:00am.

I threw my backpack in in the back lounge, put on some Lydia, and passed out.

When I woke up and we are still driving to Plano, as it is a fifteen hour drive. I learned how to play Skate 2 during the drive, the game is real fun once you get into it, it’s difficult, but very entertaining. When we got to Plano, we ate at Cheesecake Factory as P. F. Changes had an hour wait. Our Cheesecake Factory wait was supposed to be twenty minutes, but it actually ended up being about an hour and twenty, go figure. I went back to the hotel after eating, grabbed a quick showed and then fell asleep on a more than full stomach.

March 14th :: Plano, Texas

I woke up in the Plano Centre parking lot, where The Devil Wears Prada was headlining South By So What?!.

It was going to be a long day, first show/fest of the tour, and I had four photo shoots to shoot.
Here is what I had to shoot:

  • A Day To Remember for Substream Music Press
  • The Devil Wears Prada for AMP Magazine
  • The Devil Wears Prada for Ferret Records
  • The Devil Wears Prada for SHiPSHAPE ROOLZ

Luckily I had some help with my shoots. Duncan Johnson, Jake Mengelkoch, and his friend Phillip all helped me out with a few shoots. I also met up some photographer friends, Sara Kiesling and Alexander Kinter.


photo by Jake Mengelkoch
photo by Jake Mengelkoch
photo by Duncan Johnson
photo by Duncan Johnson
photo by Duncan Johnson

The shoots went great, basically just a bunch of different locations around the venue and shot away all day. After I was done with the shoot I shot A Day To Remember and The Devil Wears Prada live. This was one of the most insane shows I have ever been to. there was somewhere between 4,500 and 6,000 kids there.

My manager was at the fest as well, and it’s always nice running into him, because we don’t really live that close together. I also ran into some old friends from bands I have toured with before. Part of being a photographer on tour, is photographing lifestyle images of the band. This means stalking their everyday lives and just snapping photos every time they take a breath. I was worn out by the end of the day, as I took hundreds of photos of the guys just hanging out.

March 15th :: Memphis, Tennessee

I woke up around noon in Memphis, and went to get some good BBQ with the guys. The BBQ was great, but I can’t remember the name of the place, something to do with a pig. On my back to the bus, the Harlem Globetrotter’s bus pulled up and unloaded giant human beings. Never before have I seen such tall people.

Turns out I left my charger/ two of my batteries, in the hotel from the night before, so I Razor scootered 5.4 miles (thank you google maps/ GPS on my phone) to a Wolf camera and purchased some rip off brand charge. I looked like such a fool razoring around the streets in Memphis, but felt like such a bad ass after, so it’s all good.

The show that night sold out, turns out they did 600 hundred pre-sale, and another 800 at the door.


line to pay and get into the show

The nightlife in the Memphis party area is probably some of the craziest junk I have ever seen go down. There were basically gang fights , and I am not exaggerating. Just huge groups of people fighting each other, and cops everywhere. We hit the road as early as we could that night.

March 16th :: Little Rock, Arkansas

The next day we were in Little Rock AR, with a whole day off. Had a egg, spinach, mushroom and bacon omelet from Ihop for breakfast. . We connected up the Xbox systems and played Halo 1, or as they call it “getting lo”, for a few hours. I forgot how awesome eight player halo is. Even more awesome when you have walkie talkies to communicate, and yell at the other team with from across the bus.
We also played some good ol’ parking lot soccer. I haven’t played soccer since the 7th grade, but I enjoyed playing again.

A good surprise came at about 4:00 in the afternoon, two Applebee’s employees came to the buses and gave us 12 free appetizer or dessert coupons. Free stuff, my favorite. Okay, alright, this was technically for the bands, but I go where the bands go, so yes I’ll indulge as well.

March 17th :: Little Rock, Arkansas

Alright back to another show day. We were playing a venue called The Village, it was a big dome in the middle of a bunch of store parking lots.

But first things first, I had to find 2 locations for two different shoots.

  • The Devil Wears Prada for Alternative Press Magazine
  • Re-shoot A Day To Remember’s cover shot for Substream Music Press

Location number one was behind a strip mall on the other side of a parking lot. It had a large area of concrete with long grasses growing through it. The bright sunny day with a clear blue sky played a huge role in this shoot. I really like how the shots came out and can’t wait to see the article.

The second location was on some random concert attendees motorcycle in front of the venue. He had parked in front of the venue while I was waiting for the guys to meet me for the shot. When they got to the location they saw it and asked if we could use it in the shoot. I went and found the guy in line and had him position it for us. Thanks concert guy, you rule. Here is a shot of us setting up.

Late night we walked over to Denny’s and got some food. We were running a little late because Denny’s was real slow, so the bus picked us up from Denny’s. I have never felt so badass, aside from the Razor scooter incident I mentioned earlier. Time to go to sleep again and wake up somewhere else. For the record, that is one of my favorite parts of touring- I always feel productive, even while I’m sleeping.

March 18th :: Houston, Texas

The next day we had our last real show of the tour before South By South West. I had one last shoot to do with the guys in The Devil Wears Prada, basically a back up concept for Alternative Press magazine. I borrowed the house sound guy’s Rottweiler, that went by the name of Ice Man. The dog was awesome, just waddled around and look like a killa. I don’t even think this dog really walked, more just fell a little bit every step.

The show pre-sold 1500, and 100 more kids were let in at the door. According to the venue, this was the biggest show they have ever had, so big they put it outside instead of inside.

That night we had Pizza, a good 10 boxes of pizza. Papa Johns. It was perfect.

March 19th :: Austin, Texas

Off to Austin Texas for two days at SXSW. I woke up and we were parked next to Emo’s, the venue, where the guys were playing that night. There was a line of over 4000 kids lined up around three sides of the block. It was ridiculous. The show was free, and only the first 500 of the 4000 would get in.

This is Patrick, he’s fly.

Our bus driver, Patrick, said that when we pulled in at 4:00am, there was already a huge line. They made the news that night so many kids were there.

First off in the morning (11am) I had a quick shoot with the band TV/TV. They have had a few member changes so they were in need for some updated shots. I used my 85mm 1.8 and shot them in an alleyway. The shots are not my usual style, but I am really beginning to love my ND filter, that’s for sure.

I walked around the streets/ SXSW grounds with a few of the guys from the tour for awhile to look for a place to eat. We were stopped numerous times as people kept recognizing the guys in The Devil Wears Prada. The guys were real nice to their fans, took pictures with a bunch of kids, and talked with them for awhile.

I don’t think I could handle that, I was stopped a few times on warped tour in 2008 because people thought I was the singer of pierce the veil. I had to show them my ID so that they would get on with their games. We ended up going to Stubb’s for some BBQ for lunch. I’ll tell you Texas BBQ is some of the best out there.

When we got back to the bus, to our surprise the victory van was getting towed. Pretty ironic if you ask me, as the victory van reads “We own the streets Victory”. The guys tried to call the Matt, the victory street teamer but he got there to late and couldn’t convince them to keep it there. Oh well, we have all had our bad experiences with getting towed etc etc.

Long story short, I walked 2 miles in the wrong direction, one mile in the right, got to the Alt Press party late enough that it was one out then one in, lines are boring. So I walked back to the Emo’s and watched The Devil Wears Prada play. Below is what the laminate looked like for the Showcase, and The Devil Wears Prada playing.

That night both us and A Day To Remember parked around the same park about 5 blocks from the grounds. At night I went out and “partied”, well as much as I could. Most of the parties are 21 and up so I walked around with fro for a few hours, people watched, and then passed out on the bus. The guys in A Day To Remember were nice enough to let me ride with them for two days, so I switched over to their bus that night.

March 20th :: Austin, Texas

The next morning I woke up and spent a few hours in a local coffee shop sending out some photos for a client, and washed my face/ brushed my teeth in their bathroom. Hygiene is the hardest part of tour, as it often comes last on my to do list, so if you ever meet up with me on the road, don’t give me a hard time, give me a shower. Also, Bring Me The Horizon parked right next to our bus that morning, and they had two of the guys from Pierce The Veil with them as well. It was great seeing all those guys again. That’s one of the things I like about touring, you randomly run into tons of different people you met at some other show, or on some other tour. For some reason A Day To Remember picked up a dead bird with his mouth for 50 bucks, I guess it was entertaining, and grotesque.

Bring Me The Horizon’s bus driver was a thug, chocked out their merch dude, Flip, with one hand.

Anyway, an old friend, Kevin Skaff formally in the band Four Letter Lie flew in to fill in for Tom on guitar. It was great hanging out him, played some halo and got some dip n’ dots. Dip n dots are the biggest mystery of my life, ice cream, in ball form, that costs 10 times as much as regular ice cream. However, its 10 times more delicious, so ill fork over a some shekels for the “ice cream of the future”.

Towards the end of the day I met up with a band from the UK known as You Me At Six. They are bunch of young guys who evidently draw crowds with upwards of 3000 people in the UK. However when they came here, no one really knows of them. It’s crazy how everything changes so abruptly when you travel over a water mass. Anyway, they were really fun guys and I hope I can meet up with them again in the future.

March 21st :: Austin, Texas

The next day was my last day on tour, and I had a few more photo shoots to finish up. First I shot A Day To Remember for Electric Zombie. I had to do something fun, so we utilized all the kids that were hanging around and couldn’t get into the show. We shot right where that octabox is in the distance…

The shots turned out really cool and I am sure as these fans find the shots they will gradually become their MySpace defaults for the next year. Sky Eats Airplane also needed some updated promotional images, so we shot for a quick fifteen minutes. I love shooting in the sun, and my style of photography switches up a bunch when I do. First of all, when I am on tour I usually just use one or three lights, and then the sun for rim/ fill. I like this style a lot more, so I try to shoot as much as I can when I am in warm/ sunny areas. The last shoot of the night was for A Day To Remember’s new press shots. Pretty simple and quick, just some hang out shots.

Chris Pichado was nice enough to pick me up and take me to the airport, he also grabbed this shot of me with the guys.

March 22nd :: San Antonio => Chicago => Milwaukee (photo shoot) => Madison (home)

You can check out more shots from this tour on