Music Photography Blog

by Adam Elmakias

Warped Tour 2012 stories – Days 20 -> 24

Day 20 – July 17th – Darien Center, New York

Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 1462 photographs today

This venue, this venue, THIS VENUE. Six flags connected to venue, and we got to go for free… allllrighttyy then. Look at me, I am the Monopoly guy, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars… anyone?

We went on the roller coaster somewhere in the middle of the day. I had a throbbing headache again, it was rough, but I decided to do it anyway!

A guy that played for Blood On The Dance Floor rode with me. He was wearing a kilt and said super weird shit, like, it wasn’t gross, it was stuff a 7th grader would say, and then 7th grade me would look at said 7th grader and say “You are saying stupid shit”. Things along the line of yelling “I should probably tell them I am pregnant now”, and various other potty jokes. No hate, dude was chill, just sayin’.

All we did was go on one ride and then go and get some fair food and head back to the venue. A bunch of small insignificant shits happened throughout the day. A chick had a bubble blower during You Me At Six’s set… I wanted to steal her bubble gun because I was dodging bubbles that I didn’t want to get on my lens half the time I was shooting. Then again, it is a concert and I should let her… nah I am being too nice. No more bubble blowers at concerts! This is where I draw the line. Throw your bra, sweat balls, toss your water bottles and body-pass all day. Bring out the bubble blower and you’re pushin’ it.

You Me At Six full band and Crew

I was super pumped Yellowcard was playing last. For one, this meant their stage would be empty. Basically what happens during the day is the next band loads all of their gear onto the stage while the band before them is playing. This way when they are done the changeover is quick quick. But no gear! More room to roam and Trevor was the chillest stage manager so I could shoot anywhere. I shot with my staff a ton, took tons of photos, and tried to get the whole band in the shot. I have a big section on my video of this shoot, take a look, it starts 1 hour 17 minutes 40 seconds.

So what are some things to think about when trying to get full band shots of a band on stage. I’ll just bullet this out as they come to mind, the main rule is you want everything to look awesome at first glance, but that goes for any live photo. You never want to have people looking through your shots.

  • all five members identifiable
  • no distractions
  • no clutter
  • evenly spaced
  • it’s okay to just have four members and not drummer (ideally only have two or three if they are in an amazing pose or interacting)
  • well lit
  • solid DOF meaning they are all in focus , or at least subject is
  • everyone looks good, just think of how you want to look when you are in an image- same goes for anyone else, even if they are head banging they want to look good.
  • lighting makes sense (sunset or sunrise easiest to shoot at)
  • Lastly, break all these rules
LP of Yellowcard
LP of Yellowcard

Shooting LP is insane, this guy gets in THE ZONE. He is an insane drummer.

LP of Yellowcard
Ryan Key of Yellowcard
Ryan Key of Yellowcard

The key to shooting from any stage is knowing the techs of the band. It is good to know each band member as well, but for 90% of the time you will be invading the people who are working on the side of the stage’s space. I knew Yellowcard’s drum tech because he used to tour with A Day To Remember, and he introduced me to their guitar tech. From there I just asked where I could and couldn’t shoot everday before the set and tried to feel it out during the set. Lot’s of hand motion and head nods to make sure I am good to go wherever I may be shooting from. I never enter a guitar techs work area. They usually have a place where they tune/ clean/ switch guitars set up. I either go around on walk through it quickly while they are handing new guitars to the band in between songs. After you get to know the techs shooting on stage becomes a lot easier. The last thing you want to do is get in their way, however when and if you do- they will understand you didn’t mean to rather than taking it as a sign of disrespect. It is all about who you know.

When I am shooting on stage I do also interact with the band. For example once in awhile the artist will look at me during the set and wait for me to take an image. My camera has no visual display that I have taken the shot as I am not using a flash. I have developed a solid habit of giving them a thumbs up as soon as I get the shot. I just use which ever hand is free and gesture my thumb at them and they know what is up. Actually, now that I think about this I do this anytime it is too loud to hear me, backstage, on stage, in the crowd- everyone knows what a thumbs up means, it’s universal.

Memphis May Fire

I shot Memphis May Fire from the pit. This image sorta sucks, but I wanted to give you an idea of how high up my staff just is. He is standing on the stage, and then a riser.

Memphis May Fire
Cory Elder of Memphis May Fire
Memphis May Fire
Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire cooling down after set
Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire cooling down after set

Every Time I Die has a pair of brothers in the band- the Buckleys, and their parents come out to Warped Tour every year and cook their famous Buffalo wings. I forget how many hundred of pounds they were cookin’ this year, but I think it was 300. Maybe more, I have no idea what 300 pounds of wings look like. This was the first day in a long ass time I ate meat, I had to have one chicken wing. I made my way down to the backside of the amiptheater and ate a chicken. I just made it in time for the last batch.

Everyone was hanging, dancing, being best friends.

Alan Day of Four Year Strong, Andy Williams of Everytime I Die and friends wearing very high up pants

After the grilling ended everyone started heading over to the same area for the official Warped BBQ we had every night. The BBQ kicked up and the sun died down. It was hard to take photos in this light so I had to use my flash. Even if I wasn’t using my flash I still had it on my camera so I could use its AF focus beam but not fire the flash.

Lights and Beau Bokan of blessthefall

After hanging out I headed back to the bus area. I ran into Jack of All Time Low outside his bus and he said “Hey Adam! Matthew Lillard is back on tour, let’s go track him down and get photos with him, we can take my quad”. I just wanted to ride the ATV but I would never turn down a fun assignment like this either. I hopped on the back of Jack’s quad with him and put my arms around him like you do when you’re on a motorcycle, yea we looked cool. We rolled down the grass/gravel path and as we passed people I one shot blinded them (it was dark out, so a flash to the face isn’t exactly easy on the eyes) with my flash and took their photo.  Around a corner and park the quad we were at the party, it was dark and there were a couple hundred people there by now. It was going to be a task to track this guy down. Matthew Lillard is an actor who was out on Warped Tour for a few dates promoting his new movie he directed (Note from Jessie: the movie is Fat Kid Rules the World). He’s a super rad guy and very down to earth. That being said, we couldn’t find the motherfucker. Where was he, we looked for probably 30 minutes. I forget how it came about and who found who but before you knew it Jack and I were talking to Matthew and taking pics with him. Jack was stoked and I was down for whatever. Really nice guy, can’t stress that enough.

So we found Matthew and took a few pics with him, it went down exactly how you think it would. “Hey man, can we get a pic with you?” “Sure sure.” We took pics and continued to talk with him. This is when I fell in love with him, well not really – but this was the very first time in my whole life I have met someone who knew Jim Carrey. For those who aren’t aware, I have an Ace Ventura and The Mask tattoo. One is on my shoulder and I wear tank tops a lot- so a conversation with him sprang up. Turns out Matthew used to have the same agent as Jim Carrey in the mid-90s. He told me a few things about Jim Carrey, like he smokes tons and how he got his pay for his role in Ace Ventura Two: When Nature Calls. The sickest movie ever. Anyway he told me that when Jim was offered the role the people called him and his agent and asked him how much he would need to do the sequel. Jokingly they responded 20 million, immediately put the phone on mute and laughed their asses off. He told me that this kind of payment was unheard of back then and they were just totally messing with them. I guess then they said they would call Jim back and he ended up getting the role and payment. I just think he’s such a badass actor.

Warped BBQ party, raining so some went inside

It eventually started raining so some went for cover or back to their buses, and others stayed outside and danced. I wanted to take dancing pics but I didn’t know anyone and felt weird about it. I took one or two okayish shots, nothing crazy.

Others stayed outside and danced

After hanging around with a bunch of people I eventually peaced with Matt Barre and co. to go find a fun place to hang. We searched around the amphitheater to see if there was anywhere we could climb up on top of or something. You essentially have this massive venue just vacant with the exception of clean up crew. However everything was lit pretty well even though it was night out, so we decided against it. We settled for lounge chairs in some VIP area off to stage right, it was still awesome. That night we smoked with a girl who had never smoked before, and she was 25 years old. That doesn’t happen too often, especially on Warped. She enjoyed it, I was stoked.

Mike Fuentes of Pierce The Veil smokin’ a blunt

Back to bus zone soon after. People were hanging out, our only light were these few overhead massive parking lights. They only came from one direction. I bus-hopped a little and snagged this shot of Mike.

Buses right before bus call

Tino fell asleep early so Phil climbed into his bunk after we started driving.

Tino Arteaga unknowingly sleeping with Phil Mannasala

Day 21 – July 18th – Scranton, Pennsylvania

Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 1231 photographs today

I got up and made the long walk to the bathroom. PORCELAIN wuddap. Grabbed some breakfast right next door and then brushed my teeth. It was just like home! Except getting there took me about 10 minutes. This venue was just a huge long strip with stages scattered along it. I never quite knew where we were, but the surrounding area was all trees/cliffs/mountains. It was a beautiful venue.
I had been to this venue twice before, the last time I was here I rocked the waterpark next door, and the time before it rained. This time, it rained again. It’s all good, we kicked it in the back lounge and had some good hangs and played Super Smash Bros.

Rainy day back lounge bus hangs

It was pouring at first, but it eventually died down and turned into a light drizzle. I grabbed my camera and headed to the main stage. My feet got wet real fast cause of my shoes being pretty much feet slippers, so it was days like this I was happy I had two pairs with me. The rain made for some pretty badass shots, for example this one with the rain going over his back, easily one of my favorites. It took me a straight 15 minutes of just shooting Ronnie to get this image.

Ronnie Radke of Falling In Reverse performing in the rain

For the rest of the day I just freaked out over and over about how awesome the light was and how great everyone’s skins looked. The saturated air combined with the after-storm light brought out the character in everyone’s face. I headed to the main stage with Of Mice & Men and shot as many images as I could. Of course not everything came out, but the ones I did get- I love. I don’t think I have ever had a day where I made so many keepers in such a short amount of time.

Lionel and Tino Arteaga of Of Mice & Men

This girl rules

Lionel, Of Mice & Men guitar tech chillin’ on stage
Taking Back Sunday guitar tech getting ready side stage
Pokes, Yellowcard’s drum tech
LP of Yellowcard

Billy, Merch for Of Mice & Men
Kroeger, merch for Of Mice & Men
T-Money, merch master for Mayday Parade
Travis, merch man for All Time Low
Bobby, merch guy for Breathe Carolina

I didn’t photograph everyone, I’ll be honest- I judged the hell out of people based on their looks. Photographs are 50% what your subject looks like, and interesting subjects give interesting images. I tried to pick out the people with the most interesting characteristics. More often than not the people that have been touring for the longest look the most full of character. I don’t know if the character comes from the touring, or if the touring comes from their character, but whatever it is- it works. I eventually made it to the amphitheater right before All Time Low went on. Perfect time to grab an image of Jack simultaneously picking his nose and flippin’ you off. .

Jack Barakat of All Time Low
I am not sure who this guy is, but he rules.

I made my way to Tonight Alive’s stage next. They were playing at the PERFECT time for amazing light.

Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive
Pees, Tonight Alive Merch
Tonight Alive before going on stage
I am not sure who this is.
Matt Best of Tonight Alive
Matt Best of Tonight Alive
Tonight Alive
Jeffree Star
Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens
Matty Mullins and Jack Fowler of Sleeping With Sirens
Jack Fowler of Sleeping With Sirens

That night there was a great party, but it was dark as hell so I have tons of terribly noisy images. I started taking some photos using my phone as light, and after awhile people just lit their own faces up for me while I shot them. Lots of dancing, lots of drinks, and tons of friends. Great night.

Mike Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, party pic lit with an iphone
Vic Fuentes, Me, Eric Lambert of blessthefall, and Mike Fuentes

Day 22 – July 19th – Mansfield, Massachusetts

Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 1333 photographs today

Our bus was parked right next to All Time Low? What did this mean, Jack posing Jack-style at 10:00am and beer shotguns at 11:00am. Yep.

I left my camera at the bus with Tom Falcone for a bit, he took a few snaps of himself with it.
Jack Barakat of All Time Low being Jack Barakat of All Time Low
Motionless In White
Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive
Trevor, stage manager – handling some problems in the pit aka someone got drop kicked in the face and now we have to stop the show so medics can access them in a sea of people
Of Mice & Men
Gingers Unite
Mike Finn and homies on their bikes

Today was the day Jack from All Time Low started his head kissing thing. For those of you who don’t know me prior to this, I have never had a shaved head- this was my first tour with one. So Jack took it upon himself to find me throughout the night, grab me by the head, nuzzle me in his armpit and kiss my head like an adoring grandma. I had no idea how to react, I mean I wasn’t exactly stoked he was kissing my head, but at the same time it didn’t really bother me. It was just funny, drunk Jack would slowly creep up and then I would get a kiss on my head and he would leave. He also did it to Sal as well, and I laughed my ass off. It’s pretty funny.

I set up my light with the giant octabox on it that night and snagged pictures of anyone who came and hung out around our bus area. Love this light, love this box!

Matt Barre
Billy and Phil Manansala of Of Mice & Men
All Time Low and Yellowcard shotgunning beers
More All Time Low and Yellowcard shotgunning beers, again
Matt Flyzik and Alex Gaskarth of All Time low, and me
Jack Barakat of All Time Low
Matt Flyzik, Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth of All Time low, Travis and Sean Mackin of Yellowcard
Matthew Flyzik and Danny Kurily

After taking some bus area shots I started moseying around, slowly blending in with different party groups, grabbed some photos, and then peaced the fuck out.

Pierce The Veil and Flip
So many homies
Mod Sun, Jack Vanek, and T-Mills
Austin Carlile and Tino Arteaga, one of the two is sleeping on our floor

Day 23 – July 20th – Camden, New Jersey

Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 281 photographs today

Today I had a rather boring day. I had to go to a hotel across the river in Philly to get some good web and lead a webinar for Nik Software. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing them and it was good to have a mini-break, it’s just boring to blog about. Here we go, super fast day blog.

Walked two miles around another event to ferry pick up location, waited for ferry, got stuck in rain, took ferry across the river, got off ferry, more rain, ran a mile, checked in at hotel, hung out in hotel for a few hours, took a bath, and edited photos, prepared for webinar and practiced it, failed at casting webinar cause web sucks, took cab ride back and talk about cameras with my hood ass cab driver, got back to Warped. It was good to be back, I was only gone for a day but man did I miss it.

The guys told me it rained all day and I missed an amazing show/indoor shot. I had arranged for someone else to take crowd shots for me with my camera, told them where to stand and what to shoot at… but they didn’t do it. Sorta sucks!

I got back right as everyone was starting to party. My video evidence will show you this as well. I would highly suggest watching the video starting at 1 hour 23 minutes.

This last shot is of Matt Ash, he rules. He is Of Mice & Men’s manager, however I knew him because he also manages Bring Me The Horizon. Great guy, fun to party with.

Day 24 – July 21st – Uniondale, New York

Show Day with Of Mice & Men – I took 1390 photographs today

I woke up super excited cause this is the venue with a Chipotle only a 10 minute walk away! We cruised as a group in the AM to the Chipotle, it was so good.
So many kids today, New York is a big city.

Austin Carlile of Of Mice & Men

See above image taken at 1 hour 26 minutes 20 seconds

I took these two images by standing up on the monitor speakers, you can see it best in the video. Only a few moments after above images. I love the colors.

Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley of Of Mice & Men signing stuff for fans after set

Grabbed an image of Tonight Alive before their set. Video will show you just how it worked out exactly, super rushed. Starts at 1 hour 28 minutes.

Tonight Alive right before their set
Jack pre-kissing my head midset

Jack motioned me to come over to him and that is when I snapped this pic. You can see exactly what he did here at 1 hour 28 minutes 5 seconds in the video. I was confused, I thought he wanted me to do something or shoot something on stage, but instead he kept a straight look on his face, kissed my head again and jumped away. Motherfucker, kissin’ my bald head in front of 20k kids. I guess that’s sorta cool, how many people can say they have done that.

I tried for awhile to get jump shots of Zack from All Time Low. But he usually doesn’t do the very typical jump. He twists all crazy and goes all over the place. This makes it hard to shoot because I never really know when to expect it and I want people to look good in their images, even if they are jumping. It’s like doing one of those photos where you take a picture after shaking your head back and forth constantly, you never look cool, just goofy. Trying to make people look cool over here!

Zack Merrick of All Time Low
Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low

Check out how the above shot of Zack jumping was taken at 1 hour 29 minutes 24 seconds in the video and the below from 1 hour 31 minutes and on…

Kyle Even of Breathe Carolina
Me and Eric Armenta of Breathe Carolina
David Schmitt of Breathe Carlina
Breathe Carolina

A random kid ran backstage and tracked me down so I could come meet some of his friends that day. He didn’t have a pass or anyting he told me he just snuck back. I told him he was a badass friend and he was worried I was going to tell on him. I told him I don’t give a fuck! Just trying to hang and much respect for him being a little sneaky guy. His friends were really nice, we talked cameras for a bit, took some photos and then I headed back to the bus area to do a shoot with All Time Low band and crew.

I set my light up right around where the band wagons were parked that day. Took a bunch of photos of some friends before All Time Low got there. I can’t say this enough but All Time Low, their crew and their maanger are all such genuinely nice people.

All Time Low band and crew getting ready for group photo
Happy friends
Hard style
“Fuck You Keith” – Keith on the far left is their manager

Next I took my light to where the BBQ/party was, to try and shoot some shots of people. I imagined I looked all kinds of ridiculous carrying the big C-stand set up and 7-foot box around, but it had to be done. This was the test shot from the first spot, look great and we even had ambient light as a kicker, but no one was hanging where I was so I moved closer to the line. I set it down in an area where the legs wouldn’t stick out in anyone’s walking path. It was a tad windy but I had a small weight on the thing so I thought it would be fine. I left it alone and came back a tad later.

It fell over, and broke. Shit. I never really freak out about these things anymore, it doesn’t do anything and it has happened so many times that I just give myself a little “ahhh shit” thought and move on to fixing the problem and hoping for the best. I have only had a bulb break on me one time, this would make two. I started taking everything apart, the octabox had broken off the light and the bulb was shattered. I reach down to pull the bulb out and ELECTRIC SHOCK to my finger which quickly traveled through my whole body a jolt. I never felt like my body had jiggled lose from my brain before. So rough. I unplugged it and looked up from under my eyelids to see if anyone saw me. I think I was good, I unplugged the light, packed it back up and took my photographless walk of shame back to the bus to put my gear away.

I called Tom and asked if I could use his light if I ever had a shoot for the rest of tour, he said sure. Thank you Falcon! You rule. I call him Falcon cause he rules, much like the bird.

BBQ music, acoustic guy that ruled

continue to part 5