Well, traveling with Diplo is a bit different then traveling with a band. I probably wrote the same thing a year ago in my last blog, but I am not going to check. Very fast moving. This was more or less our schedule.
01FEB – Depart for Islamabad
02FEB – Travel
03FEB – Arrival in Islamabad early AM / show PM
04FEB – Travel Sri Lanka
07FEB – Sri Lanka => Mumbai
08FEB – Mumbai
09FEB – Major Lazer in Pune, India
10FEB – Depart immediately after show for BOM airport, fly to Rio De Janeiro.
..10FEB – Get Stuck in Dubai
11FEB – Fly Dubai => Rio De Janeiro
12FEB – Show in Rio De Janeiro
13FEB – Go home
How to even prepare for this? I sit down on my floor with all my gear in front of me. I make a list of what I will be shooting, where, for how long, and then note when the images need to be turned in. It is a lot to take into consideration all at once, but it’s important to be prepared. There was a lot of flying for this trip, so all carry on luggage.
I did a bad thing and didn’t photograph my gear – but this is usually where that photo would go.
Here are my notes to myself that I made before the trip. I have a lot of conversations with myself on paper.
- Multiple turn-ins throughout the day
- Manage yourself well
- Lots of water and sleep when possible. It’s ACTUALLY a pretty easy trip. Only a few concerts.
- Nap a lot
- Water constantly
This trip… it was a bit nuts, but you know – I really did love it. I could imagine or guess what it is going to be like when I get to go to Pakistan with Diplo, but imagination never quite prepared for the feeling of actually doing it. It was a good feeling.
Unfortunately, the feeling is always fleeting, hard to acquire and so easy to lose. I find myself chasing it at times and have to remind myself that even if I can’t find it, it will find me – and not to look too hard, it will always work out in the end. I guess that is a long way of saying I really do like some of the images from this trip, and they make me feel *some type of way*.
So we arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan at about, I would say 2:00am. It’s straight through a version of customs I could get used to. Diplomatic area, basically it means you enter the country a bit easier, courtesy of my association with Diplo. Gracias. When you spend as much time in transit as him, all the little in between travel things add up. An hour a day in customs isnt too bad if you only do it, twice a year (and even then it can get quite annoying haha) but if you are doing it every day, you will certainly run out of podcasts by May.
From the airport we load up into a fleet of armored cards and head to a compound, where we will staying during our 24 hour trip to Islamabad. I might not be this wordy throughout the whole blog, just when there is a story to tell, I might tell it. I think that makes sense.
February 3rd – Islamabad, Pakistan
This is wes outside the house the next morning. We slept for, an hour or two haha. Now it was time to explore the city. I was excited.
We shot these images in about 15 seconds, that is all security would allow. As soon as you attract attention, a lot of people start watching, gathering, and then I am assuming it gets to be more dangerous and that is why we have to leave. But yea very quick pulled over on the side of the road and photographed these.
After breakfast, we went to a rug store. Or carpet. I actually just sat in my coffee shop chair for a while trying to decide if it is a rug or carpet and then thinking if it would be insulting in some intentional way to someone if I called it the wrong name. We went to a rugcarpet store where they would just keep throwing rugcarpets out on the floor and it was great. They actually purchased some, I was just impressed with this selling style. I just love people, and it is so interesting to me that this is what these people do all day. They are very good at it too. I don’t even like rugcarpets but I got so excited every time they would unfold another one and place it on the floor like it was magical. I would get my Aladdin on.
Next stop we went to some ancient cities/ ruins/ temples. I loved the lighting and the environment, it allowed for some nice compositions. Sometimes I wonder if I am just crazy. Do these photographs mean more to me because I am not from here – because of what Pakistan means to me, as a person? Maybe not Islamabad in specific, but more so just the act of being in a city that resonates as unfamiliar with your brain no matter what direction you gaze. Whatever the feeling is, I like getting it. Sometimes I think when I am driving around San Diego, just pretend you are in New Zealand – would you look at these mountains the same way you are right now? You can’t really see it in these images, but everywhere we went we had a perimeter of security guards. No one could get close to us at all.
I had to photograph Diplo for the Guardian newspaper. So after dinner and before an interview, he had with the local government or something we snuck a session in on the roof of one of the houses. It was dream light.
Getting to and from the stage that night was crazy. They didn’t have a path or barrier set up, so they formed a human chain of grown men with their arms held together. It…. kinda worked? It morphed into somewhere a circle around Diplo, and I really wish we would have clarified with the guards ahead of time that I was with him. The way to to the stage was chill, the way back trying to fight my way back to our car was a bit nuts. If you look at the images you can see the barrier for the stage is also people holding hands.
Security team, watch out for the dog pee
February 4-7th – Sri Lanka
That night we flew out. Well, Diplo flew back to the states. I was exhausted. I think our flight took off at 5:00 am, the airport by 3:00 am, it was a long day. He was going to be back in a few days… so we went to Sri Lanka for a short vacation. We got an Airbnb on the beach and kinda lived like kings. Well, if I was a king I would eat a lot of fresh fruit. So maybe I lived like a king. I almost died on a moped a few times in Sri Lanka. It’s a beautiful place but man I gotta work on my driving into oncoming traffic skills.
February 8th – Mumbai, India
Next stop, India. We met up for the day and went on a boat trip to an island close by called Elephant Island. It is hard to see far in India, cause of the sun, mixed with what I assume in pollution? I felt like I was on another planet. People kept staring at my leg tattoos and taking pictures with Luke (the long-haired bearded man in the above photo) because he is a tall white man. I think? We stayed at a nice hotel, called The Taj Palace, and I got asked which room I was in about 10 times. This is their way of making sure I was staying there. After a while I just started saying ” I don’t know you, I am not giving you my hotel room” haha. We went around doing things all day, we had a day off before the show the next day. So here are photos from doing things.
February 9th – Pune, India
The next morning we had to drive to Pune for the festival. It was like a six-hour drive in a car hahaha. I think it was supposed to be four, but it was way longer. Traffic, and such. At the time I don’t even realize, I was barely ever bored. I just looked out the window and listened to some music.
February 10th – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The night we took the car back to Mumbai, and straight to the airport. The flight was at 5:00 am or so, we were headed to Rio De Janeiro. I was quite tired. I took time at the airport to clean myself, clean my teeth, and take some deep breathes and have water. Long story short we missed our connection and spent the night in Dubai. Diplo didn’t wanna hang until about midnight, so we walked around for a few hours, maybe until 3:30 am – and then back to the hotel, hit the gym, and then to the airport to actually fly to Rio.
February 11th – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
We got into Rio during the morning of honestly I don’t know what day. I gotta go back in and count these days. It gets so confusing. I lost track of what day it was, I just knew when the time I would be working was, and that I needed to nap when possible. That day I got some time to myself, which was good cause I need an hour to go regather myself. That night we went to a sambadrome. Live music and parades for about six hours, 1:00 am – 6:00 am. I can’t even begin to explain how crazy brazil is during Carnivale – a week or two long festivals where people party everywhere, all the time. Once again, photos do it more justice than I ever could.
After that, we went to a smaller more local party where Diplo Dj’ed a fit for fun.
February 12th – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The next morning we went on one of his favorite hikes. It was a long day. We started our adventure for the hike at around noon, and the show was the night at 3:30 am. The hike involved taking an uber to the base of a favela, then we hoped on the back of a motorcycle, (we each got our own) took that to the base of the hike, and lastly hiking for a few hours – I sear Diplo ran the whole thing. I could barely keep up. I napped so hard somewhere in there. We also went back to the sambradrome that night before the show.
We hoped in this van on the way back down, you can see the motorcycle we took on the way up, right out in front. The people in the van were from English speaking countries (I am not sure which) and they told me I look like a white supremacist. I told them that isn’t a very nice thing to say. They said well you know, like a Nazi. I told them that it also isn’t a very nice thing to say. Haha.