Music Photography Blog

by Adam Elmakias

Warped Tour 2012 stories – Days 1 -> 5

Day 1 – June 14th – San Diego, California > Las Veagas, Nevada

Travel Day with Pierce The Veil – I took 321 photographs today

It all started in San Diego, California. I slept for a few hours, just enough so I was awake enough to not forget to pack anything, but still tired enough to want to pass out again.  I snagged a scheduled cab ride at 3:30am from my apartment in North Park, San Diego to our bus in Pacific Beach at the Fuentes’ rents house.

Tour bus picking us up in hometown San Diego

I got there before anyone and the bus arrived shortly after. I met the bus driver, he was a cool guy with a Mexican name I have forgotten. I think it was Carlos. It was perfect. All of the Pierce The Veil members are Mexican, our driver was Mexican, and the bus company they used was called Mexi-something. Once everyone arrived the bus moved to a better location and we started putting our stuff on the bus. I just grabbed the last remaining bunk and put all my stuff in it- everyone had their normal location.
I had a top bunk. They are in columns of three, so top, mid, bot. Middle is good cause you are at about chest height and it’s easy to get in bed. The bigger or smaller people usually get bottom. The top are hardest to get into and worst for me cause I need to get into my gear all day. That’s okay though, I understand everyone would have a mid or bottom if they can, not many like the top. But I am the photographer, my job is the least important when it comes down to it- I don’t make the show go on, I just display how it happens. So it makes sense to me that everyone who has to work all day to make the show happen gets first dibs.

Half of my back lounge office/sleep area

Everyone else arrived and long story short they had a person with them that was supposed to take back lounge… but he didn’t. So I got bumped to back lounge. This bummed me out cause it wasn’t the plan, and I had packed preparing for a bunk. I have rode back lounge many times before, but I like to think I am *past* that. It wasn’t anyone’s fault really, as there were 15 people on the bus, it can be hard for us to all be on the same page.

Regardless, I was bummed. I am totally okay with sleeping back lounge, that’s not what worries me. I am proud of my ability to sleep anywhere at anytime. The back lounge is actually more comfy than a bunk in my opinion. The part that sucks is that is the only table in back area of the bus for people to put their drinks on, food on, etc etc. This can cause a problem cause I need to download all day/charge and have my gear available so I can come in and switch up quickly. It’s hard cause it was always in people’s way and I felt bad, but I had no other option. In addition people would sit on my cases and lean against my backpack with my computer in it. No fun can be had when you have to worry about your gear you invest all your hard-earned cash into. But, I don’t blame the people sitting back there, they didn’t realize this and they shouldn’t have to. It was just an unfortunate situation. I tried to make the best of it but for the most of the first week it was a main contributor to daily stress that I didn’t need. After all, this is Warped Tour! My favorite tour, and my best friends were letting me ride on their bus. I was thankful.

Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, see how image was taken at 22 seconds

Once the crew was done transferring all of our gear into the trailer and everyone had placed their baggages in the bay beneath the bus, we were off. Everyone settled in, organized their stuff and passed out.  I slept back lounge with no blanket. There was a blanket sleeping somewhere on the bus, but I decided to challenge myself, why not. The back had its own air control so at night I just turned it off and it became warm like an air blanket all over. I was exhausted and I quickly passed out to the ever so familiar growl of this mobile million-dollar metal home.  First stop: Vegas. We had a whole day to drive out to Salt Lake City, and while our driver took a break and rested for a few hours, we would be parked in the wonderful-in-small-doses-city known as Las Vegas.

I woke up as soon as the first person was up- another perk of sleeping back lounge. No sarcasm here, if people are up hanging, I want to be up shooting.  There is a cabinet in the back wall of the bus where people keep their backpacks at night, so as soon as they wake up they have to come and reach over me to get their stuff. Sometimes everything would fall out while were driving, you know in the event that we stop suddenly or something. When I rode with Bring Me The Horizon back in 2010 I had absolutely no room in back lounge. It was like someone had just finished all their laundry and dumped it on my bed. Only it was the laundry of 10 people and it was pre-wash aka stinky. I literally had to use two arms to dig my way into a bed that year, it was wild.

Vegas was Vegas. I got out of the bus to a giant concrete wall on one side and it was sunny as hell. Sunny everywhere, that’s what Vegas is good at, lots of blinding sun. Everyone was having their morning beer outside enjoying the laws of Vegas- drink always everywhere. I snapped some pics and hung around. We played some poker on the bus and eventually headed out for some blackjack at the casino/hotels. The guys helped me play and I won $60, ended up losing it all in the end… but that is pretty much my story everytime I try to do Vegas. I have an insanely addictive personality, so I know not to gamble more then $50-75 a time or I’ll just lose all my money.

After we were done gambling for a bit we hit New York, New York for the roller coaster.  Some guys drunk, the rest of us stoney, it would be an adventure. The walk took about 15 mins. The whole way there Mike was saying how not down he was for this- but he was doing it anyway. Scope the video of Mike not being stoked at 1 Minute and 55 seconds. He hated roller coasters which I totally understand but it is still fun to give him a hard time for it. When I was younger (I mean four years ago) I wouldn’t go on a roller coaster ever at all. I went when I was in middle school and cried. Very manly I was. But yea, not my thing. I attribute my new found love for them to Warped. In 2010, we got free admission to a total of four theme parks while I was on Warped- and line jumps! I had no excuse to not start liking them, free shit trumps all.

Anyway we got to the ride, no line, all paid the 15 bucks and on we went. I hid my GoPro in my sleeve. I am very good at sleeve-hiding. I did it all through 7th grade with my math homework everyday. See it at 2 minutes 29 seconds

I still get scared as shit going up the ride but man that is a good roller coaster. Afterward we went and got some food at a nicer restaurant. I wear tank tops all the time and always forget it’s considered indecent for men to wear these at restaurants. They made me put on my hoodie. Fair enough, I have intimidating shoulders.

Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil see photo at 3 minutes 34 seconds

Bus call was at… I forget. It was sometime at night so that we could drive to SLC and be there right about when we woke up. It was a good first day of getting thoroughly wasted in Vegas and not even staying the night.

I should probably just clear this up now. I don’t really drink at all because I can’t shoot when I drink. However I smoke a few times a day, so I won’t really cover that in the blog, it’s just how I was living at the time. Love it, hate it, do as you want. I have really bad anxiety and get nervous just talking to most of the people I meet everyday, without it I would barely be able to shoot at times.

My cat just came up to me and started rubbing his head against my feet. I am face down in my bed writing this with my feet hanging off the bed and I can feel his face just rubbing against my toes…. Mark I’m writing working. Come back later.

Day 2 – June 15th – Salt Lake City, Utah

Production Day with Pierce The Veil – I took 429 photographs today

Wake up, so excited. So many homies. Production day, what is production day? It’s basically a day set aside to figure out all the kinks, meet your stage crew, put you gear on the semi trucks, count your merch and say hello to everyone. I woke up and for a good few hours just walked around saying hey to everyone. This is the first time in the past five years that I have known this many bands on the tour. All the bands I started working with years ago are now headlining the fest and it felt good to finally be at a point where I could walk around and pretty much aim my camera at 40% of the people on the tour and snap their picture. We killed a bird accidentally the night before and it was stuck in the front grate of the bus. It was a blue bird, and our bus was blue, they went together perfectly. It was in perfect condition so my theory is it was chilling there, then we started driving and it kept chillin’ there and then just got scared as shit and died.

First day of Warped, everyone gets Vans!

Everyone on the tour gets a bunch of free Vans swag. A pair of shoes, a hat that is way too massive for anyone’s head, some socks, and something else I can’t remember. But yea I kept walking around, saying hi to people, taking photos and I didn’t really get any good ones but it was good to say hey to everyone. I knew a bunch of the crew people and a good number of bands I had worked with in the past were on the tour.

  • Mayday Parade
  • Of Mice & Men
  • Pierce The Veil
  • Breathe Carolina
  • Four Year Strong
  • All Time Low
  • Yellowcard
  • We Are The In Crowd
  • Memphis May Fire
  • blessthefall
  • Mod Sun
  • T-Mills
  • Miss May I

Everyone in the bands started drinking pretty earlier as they didn’t have any work to do really- they were just all excited to see friends. The crews had some gear-loading to do and the merch guys had to count in every T-shirt, so they were working late.

I left with Of Mice & Men to a signing at a Van’s store in a mall nearby around 5:00pm. They had a van escort at the venue, it drove us to the mall. It was chill, they signed 200 kids’ posters/cds/shirts/skin for a few hours and then we headed back to the venue. By the time we got back everyone was pretty drunk and outside playing games/hanging out. It’s so wonderful that everyone just got along on this tour, and it made for some great pics, after all- where else can you get 50 bands slishsloshed together evvery night?

David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina, view video at 5 minutes 44 seconds

The Breathe Carolina guys go hard, and when I say go hard- I mean they party non-stop always. I have done two tours with them in the past and both times I was blown away. Actually, I first rode with them on Warped Tour 2009… for one day. I still remember that day very clearly… You see I needed a place to stay for a night or two. I ended up staying on their bus. I sorta knew them cause I had done a shoot with them and we had a bunch of mutual friends- but I didn’t really know them. Their bus was crazy, drinks, clothes, food everywhereeee. I didn’t have a bunk because they were just doing me a huge favor and squeezing me on the bus, so I slept front lounge. I didn’t drink at the time, was exhausted, dirty, out of clothes and just ready to go home- only two days left! Around midnight I laid down on one of the couches in the front lounge before the bus started moving. Almost everyone was passed out but a few were still up hanging. As soon as the bus started moving this bottle of vodka creeped its way right off the ledge above my head and spilled all over my hair and chest…. and the bus was out of water. I had vodka all over my face, hair, and shirt. Haha it was hilarious, luckily my eyes didn’t get any in them and same with my mouth. But my nose was going all kinds of crazy. It smelled terrible.

So every time I ventured over to Breathe Carolina they were going crazy. Dave is incredibly hammered in the above picture, and I took a few before it that didn’t look the greatest but I love how this came out.

Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil and Eric Lambert of blessthefall

I kept doing as before, walking around with my camera, snapping photos, and then migrating towards another social group. You can see how I snagged the above picture in the video at 5 minutes 57 seconds

Everyone counting merch and organizing their trailers

This image gives you an idea of what it’s like behind the buses. Everyone hangs out under their tents and leaves their trailers open all day. You can also hang out in the trailers to catch some shade.

My big ass octabox setup

I set up my softbox by Pierce The Veil’s bus, it was far away from the rest of the buses. The setup below isn’t where my box was at first… I moved it to this location. But I wanted to show you what it looked. Anyway I set it up and spidered. Basically I just waited there until people I knew got close, and then asked ’em to take pictures. Once we started going, other people came over and we got a few more shots. All of the following start on the video around 5 minutes 44 seconds

Eric Lambert of blessthefall, Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens
Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil, Eric Lambert of blessthefall, Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens
Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, Eric Lambert of blessthefall, Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil

Halfway through I moved my way to the area pictured a few photos up. It was closer to everyone’s bus, only problem was almost everyone was just too wasted to take photos haha, or they didn’t want to bother. Which I understand, 11:00 at night isn’t exactly the time everyone wants to be photographed.

A few things to keep in mind when setting up a really bright light in peoples personal area/sleep area. I want to make sure to….

      • not blind people
      • not be in anyone’s way
      • not fire into other peoples windows/ vans
      • not be too far out of anyone’s way

This usually means shoot with the lowest power light possible, that’s why you can see some of the ambient light in the images, I had my aperture pretty wide open. I ended up moving my light back over to where it started, and took some more photos from there.

Gretchen and Kyle Even of Breathe Carolina
Myles Elliot, Kyle Even of Breathe Carolina, Casey Ervin and Forest somewhere in the back
Me with Kyle Even of Breathe Carolina
Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil
Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil

Back over by our bus there was a street hockey game going on. People also played corn hole, soccer, that frisbee game, cee-lo, poker, blackjack, and drinking games. It was good, you were basically with your friends cookin’ out every night and playing games.

I think I went to bed early that night, would be nice to get off and start the tour on a good foot.


Day 3 – June 16th – Salt Lake City, Utah

Show Day with Pierce The Veil- I took 644 photographs today 

Ahh morning on Warped Tour. For the rest of this blog I’ll be honest, it might be a little scatter-brained. I did a lot everyday and most of which was hanging out on buses or walking around looking at random stuff. I only really remember what I snapped photos of. Thus more photos! Less text.

There was catering everyday on Warped. Historically the line took forever, we’re talking 30 minutes minimum. This year’s was no exception. I went with the Pierce The Veil guys to the catering area, we had heard the line was long, but figured it would be normal. NOPE, this line wrapped around the room almost twice, I would estimate over 200 people in line. Not happening, too hungry. So we walked to the edge of the venue and snuck out through a fence. We walked a few blocks to a McDonald’s and everyone got some food. I went to a gas station next store and got a bean and cheese burrito. I just needed something to tide me over until dinner and I don’t technically consider McDonald’s food.

Mike fit out of the fence fine, it was going back in he had some trouble with. He must have at a lot of Micky Ds.

Well I was with Pierce The Veil so I had to go introduce myself to the stage crew. The stage crew didn’t like me and the sound dude and stage manager were repeatedly rude to me throughout the rest of the tour. Wheather it be chewing me out in front of the people I work for or telling me to fuck off, they did it. It sucked, but I sorta just ignored it and moved on. I am just trying to do me and stay out of your way. I believe do a good job of never getting in anyone’s way.

Moving on, first day there were a lot of technical issue. Everyone was stressed and I figured it was best for me to stay of stage. I shot some shots of the guys before getting on stage. Sometimes when people aren’t in the best mood I try to either stop taking pictures of them… or just take pictures of them from farther away. It’s just like being with someone in regular life when they aren’t in the best mood, you gotta give them space. I also don’t want pictures of people pissed.

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Pierce The Veil
Pierce the Veil right before going on stage, view video at 15 minutes

I tested my C-stand setup before the set backstage. It worked out great. I don’t know how high up the thing went. But it was pretty high. I had the C-stand with a boom arm on it extended straight up into the air. On top I had my 5D classic with a PocketWizard on it. I then fire my camera with a PocketWizard that I had in my hand.

Testing my C-stand system

I put my C-stand by the front of house before the set started. The front of house area is located about 100 feet from the stage or so. It has a tent, soundboard, and a barricade around it. Only people with passes can get in so anything is there is generally pretty safe.

Sal took this of me while I was shooting

After I shot a few images of them from up front I went back to the tent and grabbed my set up, assembled it in the crowd and shot away. I stood on top of the C-stand so that it wouldn’t tip over. If it did tip over… I don’t even want to think about what would happen to me. I would never do it again that would be for sure, but that thing could potentially kill someone.

Pierce The Veil crowd

Shooting the remote camera was basically a guessing game as I couldn’t see the LCD for obvious reasons, and it didn’t make sense for me to lower the thing up and down for each shot. I also shot the stage with a 70-200mm f/2.8 on my 5D MkII from the ground. I was a little taller from standing on my C-stand so it worked well. I didn’t get any keepers though.

Lou Dog and David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina, Sal Torres, view video at 16 minutes 34 seconds

You get a barcode on Warped to get food, but I didn’t have one so everyday was a tad bit of a struggle to get food. I had friends hook me up with theirs when they didn’t eat, but some days I would just have to pay for the food. I think for this first day’s meal I paid. I met up with the Breathe Carolina guys in the dining area and then walked back to the buses with them. It’s hard being in a band walking through the venue but you have to do it multiple times a day in order to get certain areas.

Mike Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, Tino Arteaga of Of Mice & Men, Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil, Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina, Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, view video at 17 minutes
Tastey, David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina, Austin Carlile of Of Mice & Men, Mod Sun, T. Mills
Blake took this photo of me. I have no idea what I am doing with my arms. View video at 17 minutes 45 seconds
Mike Fuentes and Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade, Jaxin Hall, David Schmitt of Breathe Carolina, Schmitt Jr., Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, Sal Torres, Josh White, Colton, Tissue. View video at 18 minutes 50 seconds

For the most part everyone on this tour were friends with each other. If not at the start of the tour, then by the end they were. We all live and work in the same vicinity for a few weeks, it’s hard not to get to know each other. In addition most of the bands have been on tours with each other in the past. The main reason I love shooting Warped is that you have 70 bands, mix ’em all up and then take pictures of them. There are endless possibilities and I love capturing them.

Day 4 – June 17th – Denver, Colorado
Show Day with Pierce The Veil – I took 2521 photographs today

I love stadium days! I have no idea which team plays here, but it’s always fun to be able to use all of their facilities- aka shower and get clean. Okay I remember it’s the Broncos. That is exactly what I did, off the bus and to the stadium to shower and shave. After that I went back to the bus and met up with Mike and Phil. We cruised over the the stadium and went places we learned we shouldn’t have gone. Took some pics, got kicked out, no harm done.

I decided to start my “project” that day- the one I tried to plan before the tour. Right off the bat, my light stand and octabox blew over.  Just gonna go ahead and say now- my project failed. It was a great idea, but looking back almost 99% of the things I planned to do on the road never happened. I feel like instead of forcing it, I should learn from it. Ehh fuck it, if it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. So I came up with new projects that made more sense, and didn’t involve as much setup. I will shoot this one eventually, maybe as people pass through San Diego or somewhere where I can leave my set up. But for now, it’s on back burner. I wish I could explain it.. but that would give it all away. It sucks cause going into it I had that feeling it would work, but I tried- I had to. It failed, thats okay. TV shows fail, but they still rule.

Denver was home for Breathe Carolina, so they had about 60 guests and got a keg. They got a keg last time we were here too, amazing. If you needed beer all you had to do was go in their trailer and fill up.

I shot with camera on top of my C-stand setup. It looked something like this peeking out of the crowd.

For these shots below I used my 70-200mm f/2.8. While I was shooting these my camera was remotely firing my other camera on top of C-stand taking wide angle crowd shots. So for every shot I took with my telephoto, my wide angle camera would remotely fire and capture the same image from a different angle. You can see that the crowd shot below was actually taken at the same time these were. I used PocketWizards to pull this off.

Breathe Carolina live in hometown Denver, Colorado

I shot Falling In Reverse that day in a similar way. I wasn’t allowed to shoot from their stage so I mounted my wide angle lens stage left and shot it remotely while I was standing and shooting from in the crowd. This enabled me to get full stage shots from two different angles at once. I used a super clamp to secure my camera on stage.

I shot Of Mice & Men from stage, it was sunset, awesome light to shoot in.

Of Mice & Men
Austin Carlile of Of Mice & Men crowd surfing

That night I tried to shoot some more images for my project over the nightly BBQ. I took all of my gear to the area people were eating/getting food in and set it up. For some reason it took me over 30 minutes to set up my giant octabox. It usually takes my five minutes I just did something incredibly wrong. I shot a bunch of different people but again, didn’t end up using them.

Day 5 – June 18th – Las Vegas, Nevada
Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 364 photographs today
We got to Vegas the next day. We gambled a bit around the town and eventually got ready for the night. All the guys got suits and we went out.  Sheep or Flip… Idk who had a connection at the Tropicana and got us into The Laugh Factory for a show that night… for free! Yay, love free shit.

Forrest, Johnny, Kristin, Jaxin Hall, Mai, Tony Perry and Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil
Jaxin Hall, Tony Perry and Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil
Myles lookin’ fly

The comedy show was awesome. We rolled in with about 10 people, and there were at least another 15 or 20 there already. We basically took over the comedy show with Warped Tour people. I don’t think the rest of the audience knew at first… but soon enough they did. There were three acts and we all gave a good crowd reaction, as well as mixing in some other fun stuff. We didn’t exactly heckle the comedians, but we started YOU ES AY YOU ES AY chants on more than a few occasions. At one point the comedian asked:

“How many of you are here are not with the big group of people?” … a few cheered. Then he asked, “How many of you are here with this… big group? Who are you guys?” To which we all responded with a really loud cheer followed by a YOU ES AY chant. It was all good fun and I believe we didn’t cross the line to “heckler”… although we got mighty close.

Chris Miller, Casey Ervin, Vic Fuentes, Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Kristin, Johnny
Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil
Chris Miller, Kevin, Johnny, Vic Fuentes and Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, Kristin, Mai, Casey Ervin, Myles Elliot

Next we took a party bus from the Tropicana to the Hard Rock Hotel. All Time Low was having a party there and we wanted to go hang. We didn’t know exactly where we were going but thanks to Danny Kurily we made our way up.

Pierce The Veil party bus
Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil rockin’ the pole, video at 26 minutes 50 seconds

Apparently this hotel room was used is some Real World something. Whatever it was, it was awesome. Hot Tub, Bar, Bowling Alley, Pool Table, and filled with friends.

I’ll be honest, I went against my better judgement that night and I had a few drinks- annnddd that’s all it takes. I never usually drink because it makes photographing people a lot more difficult. Actually, it makes holding my camera more difficult which in turn makes photographing people a lot more difficult for obvious reasons. I was also told I get really loud, which is my bad. I don’t really like that about alcohol, that I can’t control myself. I am surprised so many people do it so often, it just disables all of my every things. I have no control.  I guess when it comes to mind altering I prefer weed, it’s the best natural high ever. It just makes everything I already do, more awesome.

Eric Lambert of blessthefall, Legs of Every Time I Die, Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil

I took this image right after I lost 40 bucks on one hand and was getting ready to leave. Pretty solid for a not-sober image. One thing I like about Hard Rock is they let me take photos in their casino. I don’t really like how some photographers have the “do what you need to get your shot” mentality. I mean, that’s not true. I DO like it, however I think it also needs to come with a little bit of respect for other people. You can’t be so selfish as to to say “fuck everyone I do what I want and take pictures of what I want”. You can, but I don’t believe that is right. I think it’s right to ask to take and not be too intrusive. If a hotel says not to take images inside of it, you probably shouldn’t. Writing this prompted me to rant on Twitter haha.

I was recently at Photoshop World in Las Vegas, it is basically a convention where a bunch of photographers teach other photographers stuff. Great people, good intentions. However I was watching a respected photographer speak and he talked about getting that shot. The example he provided was shooting images of people in casinos. He went to casinos and shot until he got kicked out, then went to the next. If asked to delete images he would and then he would go back to hotel room and rescue the images off of his card. All I could think was man, this dude is a dick. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s please don’t do this. You have to respect people, and respect others when shooting. Even if it means listening to a big giant company you don’t really care about.

Jaime Preciado and Tony Perry of Pierce The Veil, Jaxin Hall, Myles Elliot

I took a cab back to the hotel with someone. I am not quite sure who, but I woke up on the bus.

continue to part 2