I came into 2017 with not a lot of goals in mind but a lot of ambition. I had been taking photos a bit more seriously in 2016, shooting more shows and delving a bit more into portraits. I’ve always tripped into photo opportunities up to this point. I chose this photo because this was when I launched into a world where people may start taking me a bit more seriously. I had spent maybe 2 months consistently emailing artists for jobs, for a single show, a promo session, or tour. I finally got one response from Tyler from Issues and I was able to shoot a single date from the End is Here Tour headlined by Falling in Reverse. This was the day I met those guys and would lead into an important part of this year.
Just a month later, I would go on tour with Falling in Reverse for the Rest in Space Tour. Up to this point, I have had only done I think 3 local tours. That’s it. All I did was ask Christian if they needed someone to finish the tour since Brandon, who took photos on their last tour, was leaving after the first half. Then there I was. Two weeks after messaging him, I was on an airplane to meet them at their show in Detroit. First time on a bus. First time shooting a large crowd; the reason I chose these photos. First time staying at hotels. Nice hotels. First time touring in Canada. I would receive a phone call from Ashley during this tour about shooting a show in March when I got back.
This leads to these photos of Bring Me The Horizon. Ashley would be unable to finish the tour so BMTH would need to get local photographers to shoot individual dates. I was asked to be at the Chicago date. Never would I ever have thought I would get asked to shoot a band of this caliber, especially a band that I thoroughly have enjoyed for a few years.
On the other side of things, I had been shooting shows so frequently that I wanted to put my foot into more serious portrait sessions and getting published that way. Stephanie and I have wanted to work together and planned this out. We had to reschedule. Day of, we both weren’t feeling too great but we shot anyways. Both of us just woke up, met up at Cherokee Park and shot. I loved what we did and wanted to share it. I looked into Kavyar and submitted this Elegant magazine. I got a response the next day and the tear sheets maybe two weeks later. This was an instance of random, spontaneous luck. This was my first published portrait set.
I was asked to shoot another band. This time it was a band that I have been listening to since I was like 10 years old. I jumped at the opportunity. They started using my photos and I was ecstatic. I love this band and at this point it didn’t seem like I was slowing down. Almost halfway through the year and I did the most I have ever done in so long.
I wanted to organize a shoot for once. I wanted to plan it out and think bigger, concept wise, on a shoot. Clarice, a stylist here in Louisville, reached out to me with an idea and we got Jaela and Tyrah together with Victoria doing makeup. We planned as much as we could but it was still just plain luck on how we got setup. We spent a lot more time than we had thought getting ready; we were running low on time. We rushed to a location and shot in about an hour. It resulted in a set we were all really proud of. I submitted this and got this published through Promo Magazine. 2nd attempt at getting published. I was two for two and was damn proud.
This photo was another instance of spontaneous, pure luck. I had wanted to do a studio shoot because I felt I was lacking in practice of that. Wy, Tyrah, Meagan, and I planned this shoot and as soon as the makeup was done, the power went out. It was a beautiful day outside and I had driven by this abandoned gas station. We decided to say “fuck it” and just shot outside. This photo came out of that set. Another random moment that got turned around into something great.
I shot warped tour last year and I went into this year with high expectations from myself. It was sweaty, it was gross, but I think got photos from two bands that showed the veracity and aggression that can happen during bands’ sets. That’s pretty much it for this one. Knocked Loose and Sworn In. I missed taking a good portrait during a band set. This is where I bought a piece of Hundredth merch that would lead into the next few months.
It started with this shirt. Not usually how a story would go I guess. I wanted to do a session using band merch. It seemed like all of these new streetwear clothing lines and retail stores kept banking on Metallica and Motley Crue tees. I said “fuck it” and used merch from a band I like and listen to and turn it into something a bit more. I wanted to do a shoot with Kaylynn and this was the result. This would lead to Chadwick, HUndredth’s vocalist, to reach out to me and ask me to do some work with them.
A month later, I organized a lookbook shoot. First time shooting with more than two people and organizing a project like this. I was very stressed out. I wanted to get this done, I wanted to get this out, and I wanted it to be great. This particular photo was one of the last photos I took that was completely spontaneous. There was a cop car and it just sat right. Took about four photos and walked away. Come back to my computer and it ended up being my favorite. Another random moment.
Wow. Just wow. I was at Louder than Life to shoot Thrice and Rise Against. Another couple of bands that I remembered listening to you in my more angsty years. I’m constantly trying to improve on taking portraits during shows that represented more than just “here’s a guy playing.” I felt like these photos were the best of the best of what I had done up till this point to represent that. I was so happy with these photos.
During this year, I had starting working with MNSTRM and RESTLESS DIGITAL to shoot shows. I have heard of COIN but never delved deeply into them. I saw they had a following, heard a single, was like “yeah, I’d like to take photos.” Wow. I listened to the album maybe a week before the show and I lost my shit. Suddenly I was amped to shoot their show. I show up and they have all these colors and production that blew my mind. Their set was incredible and the colors were my absolute favorite.
Winter is usually a tough time for me. It may be due to the cold, but I just feel particularly lonely and unproductive during this season. Even though I shot maybe 4 shows and done maybe 5 portrait sessions, I was still feeling so unsatisfied. One day, I just HAD to shoot. If I didn’t, I was going to lose my goddamn mind. My friend Derrick answered my call and just shot with me. I saw Nabil’s black and white photos of Frank Ocean and was inspired. I had been practicing with color for so long, I wanted to take a step back and keep it simple. These photos were the result of me needing to fill my artistic need to keep my head and depression at bay. I think you can see how I feel a good majority of time in these photos.
Since September, I had been staying in touch with Hundredth and was able to go on their headlining “RARE” tour with them all of December. This all started with a shirt. A fucking t-shirt. If I didn’t understand the definition of luck before, I do now. I got to travel the country, with a band who’s music I thoroughly enjoy, and learned a lot about patience and character during this tour.
It’s insane how this year ended. My goal was to do one US tour. I did that. To get published in a magazine for portraits. I did that. Shoot a music festival. I did that. Shoot a music video. I did that (it’s just not out yet). This was a successful year despite all the distraught and downfalls I had to endure throughout. I don’t have the same friends I had last year, I don’t have a girlfriend anymore, I moved out, and I’m still breathing. Got to say, it was a progressive year. I only can wish for more and hope that my notions of anxiety and depression will become less and less significant in my decisions. I’m still not done.