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Month: June 2017

Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Day 4

Tony Esposito of White Reaper performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Tony Esposito of White Reaper performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

My final day at Bonnaroo began back at What Stage once again with White Reaper.

White Reaper perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
White Reaper perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Their backdrop was up in support of their new album, The World’s Best American Band.

Ryan Hater (aka MVP) of White Reaper performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Ryan Hater (aka MVP) of White Reaper performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Ryan Hater, aka MVP, was the most fun to shoot as he was the most energetic of the group. Plus long hair and rock music always make for a fun combination. I liked this moment where his hair was just out in front of his face enough to be clear of his eyes.

Red Bull TV Live Stream Trailer at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Red Bull TV Live Stream Trailer at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

My next assignment was an unexpected one, but a cool peek behind the curtain at how things work for the Red Bull TV live stream from the festival. I got to go inside the broadcast truck and see what it takes for it all to run, switching from stage to stage and streaming past performances.

Red Bull TV Live Stream Trailer at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Red Bull TV Live Stream Trailer at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Above is a closer look from over the shoulder of the director.

After doing a quick edit back at the production trailer, I made my way back to The Other for the duration of my stay at Bonnaroo. Since I was staying here the rest of the day, I brought my laptop with me to download and edit between sets.

Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

First up was Skepta, who is a British rapper and producer.

Skepta's crew watches from backstage as Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Skepta’s crew watches from backstage as Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I was able to make my way backstage and get the above shot as the sun was starting to set. Sometimes my favorite shots are the quieter moments like these that happen behind the scenes.

Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Skepta performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

This was another nice moment that happened while I was stage side. I can’t tell if he’s actually looking at me in this shot because of his sunglasses, but I like to think he is.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Next up was Borgore! This wound up being my favorite set of the whole festival.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

And that’s because I was able to get on stage with him. I still don’t know if I was supposed to be on stage or not, but nobody stopped me and I didn’t volunteer to leave too quickly. I started off at a distance, as you can see from the above photo that was shot with the 70-200mm f/2.8.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I stayed stage side for a bit to get shots from that vantage point, and snagged this one of the crowd at twilight after sunset.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Then I made my move. I walked from stage side all the way up behind Borgore and held my camera up to get some shots then checked to see how they looked. I wasn’t close enough or high enough to get what I wanted with the 11-24 mm f/4. I was worried that I might be pushing my luck, but hey, go big or go home, right? So I stepped up onto the riser that Borgore was standing on and held my camera up again. Bingo. This was the right vantage point, but I hadn’t gotten what I wanted just yet. So I stepped down and waited for the crowd lights to come up again. As soon as they did, I stepped up and got the shot above.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I also wanted to get a shot from beside him as he did his thing, so I made a move to try for that. But as soon as I moved, so did he. So I moved again, and so did he. Finally, I got the above shot just before he moved again, but this time I saw him look back toward the other people standing backstage and give someone a look. I took that to mean he was looking for someone to get rid of me, so I stepped down before anyone could approach me. That’s what was happening in my head anyway. I don’t know if it was reality or not.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I stayed off the riser for a while, but still captured this moment of pyro going off between Borgore and the crowd.

Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Borgore performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

After a couple of minutes, I saw the lights come up on the crowd again and jumped up on the riser to grab a quick shot. Thankfully, he put his hand up in the air at the same moment.

Nils Rondhuis (aka Nizzle) and Jim Aasgier of Yellow Claw perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Nils Rondhuis (aka Nizzle) and Jim Aasgier of Yellow Claw perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

About 15 minutes after that last shot of Borgore was captured, Yellow Claw took the stage. Again, I started up the middle aisle toward the back of the crowd and shot for a bit.

Yellow Claw perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Yellow Claw perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I’ll admit, I was kind of addicted to shooting from this position. The lighting at this stage was just crazy good all the time, and this was the best vantage point to shoot it from. So I kept returning to it!

Nils Rondhuis (aka Nizzle) of Yellow Claw performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Nils Rondhuis (aka Nizzle) of Yellow Claw performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Eventually I knew I needed to get closer and get shots of the actual performers, so I went back up the the stage and shot for a bit.

Jim Aasgier of Yellow Claw performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Yellow Claw perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I shot for a few minutes from in front of the stage, then made my way around back again to get on stage to finish out. Unfortunately for me though, the stage crew was using heavy machinery to remove gear from Borgore’s set, and I wasn’t allowed back onstage while that was happening. So, that meant my shooting at Bonnaroo had come to an end!

Thanks again to Kelly Garthwaite at Red Bull for bringing me onto the team, and to Jeremy Deputat and Jason Myers for being so gracious to the new kid, and to everyone else I worked with and met while I was there!

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Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Day 3

Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

Day 3 of Bonnaroo began for me around 1:00pm when I arrived on site with the rest of the team. My first shoot of the day was back at What Stage with The Front Bottoms. I arrived early to scope things out, thankfully, because the thrust that was there the day before was gone. This meant that the entire stage front was free reign for photographers rather than some of them being relegated to one side of the thrust.

The Front Bottoms perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
The Front Bottoms perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

You can stake out your spot if you want, but the reality is that everyone will be moving around during the allotted shooting time. And if you want to be respected by everyone else in the pit, you also show respect by making sure everyone is able to get what they need rather than hogging a spot the entire time.

Mathew Uychich of The Front Bottoms performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Mathew Uychich of The Front Bottoms performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

My next scheduled shoot was a few hours later, so I went back to the production trailer and did a quick edit before grabbing lunch and heading out to shoot lifestyle/ambience photos.

Attendees enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Attendees enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

Before leaving the production trailer, my assistant grabbed a few cans of Red Bull so we could give them to attendees who were willing to pose for photos for us.

Attendees enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Attendees enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I went up in the ferris wheel to take photos, but didn’t really get what I was hoping for. When I came down, there were a couple of girls taking selfies in front of the ferris wheel, so I asked if they would let me shoot some as well. While I was shooting them, this other friend of theirs came along and asked if I wanted him to lift one of them in the air. “Sure, why not?!” was obviously my response, which resulted in the photo above!

Attendees enjoy the Bonnaroo Fountain at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Attendees enjoy the Bonnaroo Fountain at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

The Bonnaroo Fountain at Centeroo is iconic for the festival, so I went there in hopes of capturing shots of people cooling down in the mid-day heat. I climbed up on one of the benches on the outer perimeter and got my 11-24 mm f/4 as close to one of the sprayers as possible and fired off a few series of shots.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

While I was on my way back to the production trailer to edit again, I walked by Which Stage where Rainbow Kitten Surprise was playing. That’s just one of the best band names ever, so I had to grab a shot from the back of the crowd!

Joseph perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Joseph perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

After editing, it was time to get back to That Tent to photograph Joseph’s set. This trio of sisters put on an absolutely captivating performance!

Allison Closner of Joseph performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Allison Closner of Joseph performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Natalie Closner Schepman of Joseph performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Natalie Closner Schepman of Joseph performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I really liked the mirrored sunglasses that Natalie was wearing, so I probably shot too many photos of her!

Joseph perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Joseph perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

Puffs of smoke kept coming out from behind the drummer, so I shot him until I got a frame where it was perfectly positioned to give separation between him and the darkness behind him.

Future Islands perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Future Islands perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

After that, it was time to head back to What Stage for Future Islands. Lead singer Samuel T. Herring has become known for his impassioned and emotive performance, and he delivered on those expectations.

Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Future Islands perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Future Islands perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I had a couple of hours between Future Islands and my next performance shoot, so I set out to find some more ambience photo opportunities, especially since sunset was nigh.

Attendees take a selfie at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Attendees take a selfie at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

As I walked toward the back of the crowd at What Stage, I spotted these two ladies taking selfies and got a quick shot of them.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA at sunset on June 10, 2017.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA at sunset on June 10, 2017.

I also saw that the sun was starting to set and grabbed some shots of What Stage with that golden light adding a lens flare.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

From there I quickly made my way over to the Centeroo area near The Other and Jake & Snake’s Christmas Club Barn to get a golden hour crowd photo.

Once I was happy with the golden hour shots I had gotten, I went back to the production trailer to edit and upload before heading out to my first shoot at The Other stage. Little did I know that I was about to discover my new favorite place to shoot at Bonnaroo!

Matoma performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Matoma performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I wasn’t technically scheduled to photograph Matoma’s set, but I also wasn’t scheduled to shoot anything else until 2:00am. So I tagged along with Jeremy Deputat to check out the stage since I hadn’t been there yet.

This stage had a different vibe than the others I had shot at. While there were other types of performances here, it was primarily the EDM stage. Everyone there was just looking to have a fun time, even security! While the security at other stages was professional, they were also pretty stern and you could tell when they’d had enough. Here, security was dancing along with the music and passing out water to thirsty attendees. Plus there was a big aisle down the middle of the crowd, which allowed for shots like the one above!

Matoma performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.
Matoma performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I’m a sucker for a good silhouette, so this was one of my favorite shots.

After Matoma’s set, I still had plenty of time to kill, so I went back to the production trailer again to make sure I was 100% caught up with all of my editing and uploading, and double check all of my backups.

Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

Finally, it was nearing 2:00am, so I hopped on a golf cart and made my way back to The Other.

(Side note: The Other was on the complete opposite corner of the grounds from our production trailer, and my first time using a golf cart during the festival was when I tagged along with Jeremy for Matoma’s set. This was LIFE CHANGING for me once I realized I could do this! I still walked to other destinations, but any time I went back to The Other from here on out, it was on a golf cart).

During the set, I shot from the back of the middle aisle and got stage/crowd shots for a few minutes.

Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

And also up at the front to get closer shots of the infamous Marshmello helmet.

Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.
Marshmello performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 11, 2017.

I shot for maybe 10-15 minutes and wrapped up since it was so late. Hopped back on the golf cart and went back to the production trailer to meet my editor and head to the hotel. When we got back, we worked in the lobby so I could do my editing and upload to the Red Bull Content Pool and the Dropbox folder others were pulling images from before calling it a night at around 4:00am.

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Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Day 2

Angelique Kidjo is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Angelique Kidjo is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Angelique Kidjo is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

We arrived on site for day two of Bonnaroo around 1:00pm, and I started by shooting an interview with singer/songwriter and activist Angelique Kidjo and Red Bull’s Sal Masekela. When photographing interviews like this, my goal is to capture shots that show both the production involved in case the client has a need for it, as well as just photos of the interviewer/interviewee. Depending on the space I have to move around, I’ll use some mix of the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses.

From there, I went back to the Red Bull trailer to do a quick edit and check in with my editor before heading out for my first performance shoot of the day at What Stage (the main stage).

Since this was the first day of performances on the main stage, I arrived at the early to make sure I familiarized myself with the entry points and introduce myself to security. The stage had a thrust in the middle (, and I found out that most of the photographers would be stationed on one side of it. I made my way to the opposite side, because who wants to get the same shots everyone else is getting?

Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

Francis & The Lights, of which Francis Farewell Starlite is the sole member, took the stage with a highly energized set. As the first act of the day on this stage, he really woke up the crowd with his performance. I mostly relied on the 11-24 mm f/4 as my wide lens for his set.

Chance The Rapper looks on as Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Chance The Rapper looks on as Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

Part way through the second song, I heard someone say, “Oh, there’s Chance!” I pull back from my camera and look up in the stage side balcony, and sure enough, there’s Chance The Rapper looking on in support of his collaborative partner. Even though I was right at the stage, he was still a good distance away from me, so I used the 70-200mm f/2.8 for this shot.

Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Francis & The Lights performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

I finished shooting Francis, then made my way to  my next shoot.

Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

This was my first time seeing or shooting Cold War Kids, and they didn’t disappoint. The only downside of shooting daytime outdoor performances is that the stage lighting doesn’t have much effect on photos. It’s pretty much all white/warm light from the sun. Thankfully, lead singer Nathan Willett is an energetic performer and gave the photographers plenty to work with.

Brad Shultz of Cage The Elephant hangs with friends at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Brad Shultz of Cage The Elephant hangs with friends at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

After shooting Cold War Kids, I went into the artist hospitality area where various vendors are set up (as well as Danny Clinch and his backstage artist portrait area) in hopes of getting candid photos of artists hanging out. Brad Shultz from Cage The Elephant and his friends were more than happy to pose for a shot! I didn’t want to be right up in their faces, so I shot this on the 24-70mm f/2.8 in order to be wide enough to fit all of them in the frame without being right up in their faces.

Mario Cuomo of The Orwells enjoys a Red Bull at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Mario Cuomo of The Orwells enjoys a Red Bull at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

Mario Cuomo from The Orwells also gladly posed for a shot, and gladly drank some Red Bull for his photo.

Portugal. The Man is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Portugal. The Man is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

After getting a couple of candid shots, I turned the corner to Sal’s World, where he was interviewing Portugal. The Man.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band is interviewed by Sal Masekela at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

Then I followed Sal out to this picnic table where he was joined by the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band for an interview!

Tove Lo performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Tove Lo performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

After that interview, I backtracked to Which Stage again to shoot Tove Lo. Her set was one of the most entertaining ones I was able to shoot during the festival! With the sun going down, the stage lighting was much more effective than before. And she was constantly on the move, which made for a fun shoot!

Tove Lo performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Tove Lo performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

I believe every photographer in the pit got a shot like this one, but who doesn’t like a good hair photo?

After Tove Lo’s set, I had a little time to go back to the Red Bull trailer once again and download/backup and edit/upload before heading out to That Tent for Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s set.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 9, 2017.

These guys were my last shoot of the day. Throughout each day, I tried to limit how many shots I took of each performance, but it was a challenge with this one! They were so great and full of energy, emotion, and expression that I didn’t want to take my finger off the shutter.

This was my earliest night of the week, wrapping up shooting around 10:0opm before heading back to the trailer one last time to edit and upload.

Next up, Day 3 of Bonnaroo!

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Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Day 1

Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

We began our first day the same way we wound up beginning all but the last day, with a team breakfast at Cracker Barrel (we went to Waffle House on the last day). These breakfasts gave us a chance to just hang in a relaxed environment and talk with one another, whether it was about life, photography in general, or specific things about the festival. Plus we were able to load up with fuel to face the rest of the long day ahead of us. After breakfast each day, we had a little time to gather ourselves and our gear before we loaded into vehicles to head to the festival.

The Ferris Wheel at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
The Ferris Wheel at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying one thing… I know that my Bonnaroo experience was not that of people who were just there in attendance, nor was it that of photographers who may have been there covering it for a publication or media outlet, nor was it that of the people who were shooting for the festival. So, if you’re looking at any of this in hopes of finding out what Bonnaroo is like from any perspective other than covering it for Red Bull, this will only be somewhat insightful. The passes I had allowed me to do some things and go some places others weren’t able to go, but I was also not able to do some things or go certain places others were able to go. With that said, here’s how my first day at Bonnaroo went!

Upon arrival each day, we parked in whatever lot it was we were designated to park in somewhere behind What Stage (aka the main stage), then walked to the Red Bull production trailer. Inside the trailer was a flurry of activity that included everyone from us photographers and our assistants to editors, producers, and a bevy of other people whose roles I’m still not 100% sure of, but I know they were more important than me. I’ll just suffice it to say that there was a lot of people doing a lot of work alongside each other in a relatively small space, but we all had a lot of fun together throughout the event.

The Lemon Twigs perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
The Lemon Twigs perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Also each day before heading out, I would grab some sun block and spray it all over myself, then suit up with the SpiderHolster belt and cameras with lenses (usually the 70-200 and 11-24. My assistant, Jordan, carried the ThinkTank shoulder bag with the 24-70, extra batteries and memory cards, etc, as well as a backpack with snacks, a clipboard with model releases, bandaids, and other random stuff. We also grabbed some cans of Red Bull in case we needed to stage some shots for marketing and branding purposes.

Spectator enjoys Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
Spectator enjoys Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

The first day allowed me time to wander around the festival grounds to see where everything was, roughly gauge walking time between stages and tents, and shoot some general lifestyle shots of attendees before we needed to photograph any artist sets. We did this for about an hour, finding people who were dressed, um, interestingly, or just straight up energetic and willing to pose for us.

Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

A quick note on the stage and tent names at Bonnaroo. It takes some time to figure them out, but once you do, you still get them mixed up because they’re hella confusing! They are as follows:

  • What Stage (main stage)
  • Which Stage (secondary stage)
  • This Tent (I never even made it to this one)
  • That Tent (spent a good chunk of time here)
  • The Other (used to be a tent, but this year became a stage and was the primary venue for EDM artists)
  • Who Stage (the smallest of the stages)
Turkuaz perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
Turkuaz perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

There’s also the Comedy & Cinema tent with standups performing and movies being screened, sometimes with the director or star in attendance to answer questions. And the Silent Disco tent, where an emcee is playing and pumping music out to headphones being worn by attendees, but you can’t hear anything that’s being played without the headphones. And we can’t forget Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Barn, which is basically home to a 24-hour a day rave.

The Orwells perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
The Orwells perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

For day one performances, I was primarily stationed at That Tent. I shot sets by Welles, The Orwells, Twiddle, The Lemon Twigs, and Turkuaz. The only band I had shot before was The Orwells, so I had an idea of what to expect from them, but no one else. The photo pits around the festival were all pretty decent sizes, but with the number of photographers there, they were still pretty crowded. But not uncomfortably so. Thankfully you could still move around to shoot from different angles, so I was happy all in all.

Welles perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
Welles perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

I shot all the sets I was assigned to, and then when there was time between sets, I would either go back to the production trailer to download and edit, walk around shooting lifestyle photos, or take a lunch/dinner break.

The wrist of someone who needed to get into a LOT of different places!
The wrist of someone who needed to get into a LOT of different places!

For on-site meals, Red Bull arranged for us to have meals in the artist catering tent. Everyone at the festival has a wristband (or multiple wristbands depending on the access you’re granted and whatnot). Each wristband has a different color “belt” on it which houses an RFID tag that gets scanned whenever you go into various areas. The color combinations of the wristbands and their belts also serve as visual guides for security to know where you’re allowed to go. So, when we would go to catering for meals, they would scan our wristbands and that would let them know if we were allowed to eat or not.

The Lemon Twigs perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017
The Lemon Twigs perform at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

I finished shooting my last set a little after 2:30am, roughly 12 hours after I first set out to take lifestyle photos around the festival. Once I downloaded, edited, and uploaded, got back to my room, showered, and got ready for bed, I got to sleep around 4:30am.

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Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Workflow

Before heading to Bonnaroo, I wanted to make sure I had a good workflow in place that adhered to both Red Bull’s needs as well as my own. Here’s what I came up with…

CAMERA SETUP

First, I made sure the dates and times were synced up exactly between the two camera bodies. This is vital when you’re shooting an event with more than one camera body, as well as when you’re shooting with other photographers. If things aren’t synced up correctly, it can cause your editor and others huge headaches trying to keep everything straight and in order.

After that, I got all my settings dialed into one body, then copied those settings onto a CF card, put that card into the other camera, and loaded the settings onto that body. After that, I entered in my copyright and artist info into the metadata of each body. I also used the Canon EOS Utility to input “1” or “2” into the Instructions IPTC info on each camera. More on this in a bit.

Here are the basic camera settings that I use as a starting point. They may change depending on the situation, but this is always where I begin:

File Type: RAW. You want as much file/image information as you can get to work with to create the best image possible.

Shooting Mode: Aperture priority.

Auto ISO: If you aren’t familiar with Auto ISO, here’s how it works… You tell your camera the minimum shutter speed you want it to maintain, along with the maximum ISO you’re comfortable with it using. It will only raise the ISO as much as is needed to maintain the minimum shutter speed, until it reaches that maximum ISO. Once it reaches that, your shutter speed may fall below what you want it to be.

I usually set the maximum ISO to whatever the camera’s highest native ISO is, so 51,200 for the 1DX Mark II. And I normally set the minimum shutter speed to 1/250 for concerts, but I ended up bumping it up to 1/500 to make sure there was as little blur as possible.

Aperture: Wide open most of the time, which is f/2.8 on the 70-200mm and 24-70mm lenses and f/4 on the 11-24mm lens.

Focus Mode: Since there’s so much movement at concerts, I use continuous focus (AI Servo on Canon and AF-C on Nikon) mode all the time. If you use single focus (One Shot on Canon and AF-S on Nikon), you’re constantly having to lock focus every time someone moves.

Metering: If your camera allows you to lock spot metering to the focus point, use that. I think a lot of Nikon bodies let you do this, but only the 1D series in the Canon line allows for this. If you’re not using a camera that lets the spot metering lock into the focus point, just stick with evaluative (Canon) or matrix (Nikon) metering and keep an eye on your exposure so you can compensate accordingly.

White Balance: Auto white balance does a really great job in any of the current camera bodies. With concerts, the stage lighting varies so much so quickly, there’s not much point in trying to get a “correct” white balance because you’re going to be making adjustments in post no matter what.

Drive Speed: Continuous High. This can be a blessing and a curse with any of the top of the line camera bodies that shoot 10+ frames per second, because you’re pretty much guaranteed to capture the perfect moment, but you’re also shooting a TON of photos, and that eats up card space and hard drive space. As long as you’ve got those fast cards and lots of space though, why not?

COMPUTER WORKFLOW

I use Photo Mechanic to ingest images from cards. I’ve been using it since college to make selects after downloading, but I only just learned more about the power of Photo Mechanic to help minimize metadata input as I was researching during my prep for Bonnaroo. Basically, it allows you to use “variables” to automatically fill in lots of different information. It also uses “code replacements,” which allows you to set up custom codes to automatically put information in captions. Code replacements are mostly used by sports photographers, but I’m sure some of you could find other ways to use them. Here’s a YouTube playlist that I found particularly helpful to learn about variables and code replacements.

Photo Mechanic ingest dialogue using variables for creating folders and renaming files

Here’s what my Photo Mechanic ingest screen looks like.

It shows what cards are inserted, and below that I have the Incremental Ingest box checked. This means it will detect if there are photos on the cards that have already been downloaded and only download new ones.

For Source Directory Structure, I have it set to ignore the folder structure on the cards and just copy everything to the destinations and folder structure I have set.

On Copy Photos, I’ve chosen “into folder with name,” and below that I have the folder name set up. If that folder doesn’t exist, it will be created, and if it does exist, it will be detected and photos copied into it. Those squiggly brackets/braces with stuff inside are the variables I mentioned before. I use a file naming and folder structure that always begins with the four digit year, then the two digit month, and two digit date, followed by a dash and the name of the project. These variables will automatically detect the date info and create it based on the metadata of the images.

At the top of the right column is the destination section. This tells Photo Mechanic where I want it to copy the photos, and also gives us an option for a secondary/backup destination. This is where those two G-Tech 1TB Thunderbolt G-Drives come in. I have it automatically download to both drives so I have an instant backup as soon as the download is finished.

Under Filter Files, you can choose to copy both locked and unlocked photos, and RAW and non-RAW photos. If you’re shooting an event and have time to chimp during it and make selects in-camera, you can lock those selects, then tell Photo Mechanic to only copy locked files. And if you’re shooting RAW+JPG, and you know the JPG is good enough to use out of camera, you can choose to only copy those so you can get them posted as quickly as possible. In my case, I didn’t have a ton of time to make selects in camera and was only shooting RAW, so I just copied everything over and made my selects on my laptop.

Photo Mechanic IPTC Stationery Pad for applying metadata to files upon import

Next, you have the option to apply IPTC info to files upon ingest. To do this, you just fill out the IPTC Stationery Pad with all the info you want included, and it’ll copy to the files as they come in. This is another place that utilizes variables to automatically fill in lots of fields for you.

Then there’s the all-important Rename Ingested Photos As box. Again, here I used variables to fill in most of the file name. Here’s the exact text since it cuts off in the screenshot:

{iptcyear4}{iptcmonth0}{iptcday0}_Bonnaroo_{instructions}_{frame4}

Again, the first part is the full date, followed by _Bonnaroo_ and {instructions}. If you’ll remember from the beginning of this post, I used the Canon EOS Utility to input the numbers 1 and 2 into the camera’s instructions IPTC field. This just tells me which camera I shot the photos with and ensures I don’t have any duplicate file names if the four-digit frame number (the final variable shown above) happens to be the same at any time.

Lastly, I opted not to format the cards after ingesting them, but I did choose to unmount them when they were done so I could pull them and pop them back into the cameras. I didn’t format till the end of each day, with maybe one or two exceptions, and the 64GB cards were pretty much big enough for the amount of shooting I did each day.

After ingesting, I would go through the take and mark my selects, usually narrowing it down to 10 or fewer frames from each artist, and only a few from each lifestyle setup. I go through all the images at full-size and mark any that stand out to me with the number 1, which assigns them the color pink. Then I hide all the unmarked shots and go through the marked shots again to narrow it down further with the number 2, which marks them red. Then I hide the pink shots and if I still have more than 10 reds, I’ll go through again and either knock some back down to pink or bump them up to orange with the number 3. Once I’m down to 10 or fewer, we select those and drag them over to Lightroom to import.

I generally only bring over one artist at a time, so in the Lightroom import dialog I’ll add the artist name to the keywords. Once they’re imported, I add them to my Bonnaroo collection, then add the artist name to the Title and Headline, then adjust the caption accordingly. Did you know that if it’s a single artist, like The Weeknd or Lorde, the correct verb is “performs,” but if it’s a band with multiple members, like U2 or Red Hot Chili Peppers, the correct verb is “perform?” This has been “Fun Facts with Brad,” now onto our regularly scheduled programming…

Once that’s all done, we head into the Develop module and make adjustments till the photos look as great as they can. I don’t really have a formula for this to be honest. I basically just move all the sliders back and forth until I’m happy with the outcome. I tend to prefer colors that vibrate well off each other, bright highlights and dark shadows, a decent amount of clarity, and just enough of a vignette to make sure the edges aren’t distracting.

Lightroom Export dialogue box with settings for exporting to Dropbox

And then the final step, exporting! Above is the export preset I set up for myself, which keeps in line with all my preferred file naming standards and sRGB color space. I usually export in sRGB because it’s the color space with the least information. That sounds counterintuitive, but it actually means that the photos will look pretty similar across all devices. If you export in a larger color space, the images may display with odd colors if it’s a display that doesn’t support that larger color space. So sRGB is just a safe bet that my photos will most likely look great no matter where they’re displayed.

Lightroom Export dialogue box with settings for exporting to Dropbox

And this is the export preset I used for Red Bull. They have a slightly different file naming convention, and they requested files in the AdobeRGB (1998) color space, so this conforms to those requests. The only thing I had to do manually was update the start number of the sequence to make sure I didn’t duplicate any file names for them.

You may also notice I had a different presets for each day. Each day had its own folder, so I made these presets so I didn’t have to worry about it once I was on site.

From there, Red Bull would pull images from Dropbox for any social media posts they may have used them for, and then I would upload to their FTP to submit images to the Red Bull Content Pool!

Once I got back home, I downloaded and backed up all the images from the event to my server and backup server. I still have them on my external drives just in case I need them for anything, but I’ll delete them as soon as I need space for another project.

Okay, now that all the nerdy stuff is out of the way, we can move on to Bonnaroo Day 1!

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Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull: Preparation

Nashville entertainment and commercial photographer Brad Moore photographs Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN for Red Bull
Photo by Jordan Dunn

Back in April, I checked my email one day and found an email from a photo editor at Red Bull…

“Hey Brad, We’re filling up our photographer roster for Bonnaroo and are hoping that you are free and would be down to work with us on it. If you are interested and able to do it, let us know, and we can give you more details.”

Um, YES I AM FREE AND INTERESTED AND ABLE PLEASE GIVE ME ALL THE DETAILS THANK YOU!!!

Well, that wasn’t my exact reply, but it may as well have been. We exchanged a few more emails to go over logistics and whatnot over the next few months leading up to the event, and I was all set!

I had never been to Bonnaroo before, nor had I worked with Red Bull before. So I had lots of questions about what to expect, what photo gear I needed to be as prepared as possible, and what other miscellaneous things I needed to survive being out in the summer heat for four days. Thankfully, I had Drew Gurian on speed dial to help me with all of this! He’s been to Bonnaroo many times and has been working with Red Bull for years.

As some of you may already know, Drew and I go all the way back to my days of assisting Joe McNally. He took over the first assistant role with Joe after I moved on to work with Scott Kelby, and we’ve remained good friends since then. We often call each other to discuss navigating the freelance photographer life and bounce ideas off each other when we’re working on things.

Anyway, after chatting with Drew multiple times, I stocked up on memory cards, extra camera batteries, a cooling towel, sun block, and mentally prepared myself to walk upwards of 10 miles a day around the Bonnaroo Festival site. To some, that may not sound like a lot, but when you live in a city where the primary mode of transportation is getting in your vehicle and driving 20 minutes to get just about anywhere, it can seem daunting.

GEAR OVERVIEW
Here’s a breakdown of the gear I used at the festival:

I wanted to make sure I captured the best, highest quality images I could, so I got a couple of the blazing fast 1DX Mark II bodies from Canon. These, coupled with the “lens trinity,” set me up for success in the photo pits while shooting sets and around the festival grounds capturing lifestyle images. I used the 24-70mm f/2.8 a little here and there, but for the most part I stuck to the 70-200mm f/2.8 and 11-24mm f/4.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a certain brand of memory cards fail on me pretty reliably, so I made sure I had at least a couple of fast, sizable SanDisk cards to primarily use. At one point, I stuck the other brand of card in my camera (I had some as backups) and it immediately gave me a “card not readable” error, so I tossed it and put the SanDisk back in. Still had to use the other brand of card readers though as they’re the most available and affordable ones, but I had four of them just in case any of them failed.

I also mentioned making sure that the CF cards were fast. This is vital in an environment where turnaround time is a high priority. If you’re working in an area where you need to have images going up online as soon as possible, you don’t want to be the person who is holding everything up because you cheaped out on memory cards to save $30. When you’re purchasing memory cards, always look at BOTH the read and write speeds. Just because they say 120 MB/s or 800x instead of 160 MB/s or 1066x on them doesn’t mean that applies to both speeds. You may not see a noticeable difference when you’re shooting, but when you’re waiting an extra 10 minutes for your card to download and everyone else is done editing and uploading their photos, you’ll know why that card was so much cheaper.

After reading this guest blog from Adam Elmakias about wrist and back injuries, I sought out a SpiderHolster dual camera belt and found one that my buddy Pete Collins let me borrow. This took all the weight of the cameras and lenses off my shoulders and put it on my hips and legs. It took a little getting used to, but I eventually started getting the pins that attach to the bottom of the camera into the holster pretty quickly. If you haven’t used this before and want to give it a shot, just make sure your shirt stays tucked into the belt and doesn’t get in the way of the holsters! Pete also let me borrow the SpiderPro Hand Straps, which helped me keep a good grip on the cameras and alleviate some of the weight on my wrist when shooting.

Also, not knowing how many batteries I would be going through each day, I rented four extra Canon LP-E4N batteries from BorrowLenses.com to make sure I was covered. Thankfully, the new LP-E19 batteries that came with the 1DX Mark II bodies lasted all day every day. There was a day where one was down to two notches with one set left to shoot, so I put a fresh one in to be safe. But, it probably would’ve lasted through that last set without any problems. So, while I could look at the rented batteries as wasted money, I still feel like I did the right (and professional) thing by making sure I showed up with all the tools I needed to get the job done.

And, surprise to me, this was the first time I’ve ever had an assistant for shooting concerts! I didn’t know I was going to have one until I received the production guide about a week before the festival. So I touched base with him ahead of time to talk through expectations, what I did and didn’t know about the festival and what we would be doing, and to give him a chance to ask me any questions he had.

Our first day of shooting was Thursday, June 8, so the photo team all arrived in Manchester, Tennessee on June 7. Last year, the team had to make a 30-45 minute drive each way to their hotel and back to the festival every day. This year, Red Bull was amazing enough to put us up in a place in Manchester (next to a Cracker Barrel even!) so we didn’t have to make that drive when we finished each night anywhere between 2:00am and 4:00am. Once we all arrived, I went to dinner with the other two photographers so I could get to know them a bit before getting into the heat of the festival.

Next up… Bonnaroo Workflow

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