I open my inbox to an intriguing message.
And that’s how it started. Well twist my arm, then… I thought. My team has a special way of being a little ridiculous on the story pitches, but I was sold. What I didn’t realize? It would also entail an intricate schedule of work, travel, shooting, editing, maybe a little sleep (and I mean little, less than little) and getting up and doing it all over again, day after day. I was exhausted just thinking about it.
👆 actually me after the week…
So it was an ambitious five-day quest to shoot five different concerts, test out some video and photo gear, and write a story about it. Cool. What I wanted to cover was almost entirely up to me. First up, Monday evening would be a local Austin band at a favorite local venue (Come And Take It Live), no less. Following that, my friend Danny (also known as New York rocker Des Rocs) just so happened to be touring through Texas for three consecutive days with The Glorious Sons. A quick text, fingers crossed, and he graciously agreed to let me follow him around with a camera. Four out of my five nights booked, I had just Friday to fill. I looked around and realized I’d been sent a media invite for an intriguing up-and-coming indie band called Brother Moses. Email sent, invite accepted, interview, shoot and review arranged; the week was booked. Mission Accomplished.
Days running up to my 5S/5D (that’s “5 Shoots / 5 Days”), I packed, planned, wrote and reviewed shot lists, met with my assistant photog, scheduled interviews, social and BTS content and tried to rest and prepare myself. One of the biggest challenges of shooting concerts is the extreme physicality of it all. You don’t realize how taxing it is to lug around all that gear for hours on end, and then contort and ‘gimbal’ yourself to manage the perfect shot. Over and over. Five days of that without a break would be interesting. I doubled down on my Pilates the week prior.
Early in the week I headed up to Precision Camera to pick up my gear from the rentals department: a gorgeous new Sony Alpha a9 camera body, an extra-beautiful G-Series f2.8 28-70mm lens (can you tell I have a thing for Sony gear?), a DJI Ronin-S gimbal and all the fixin’s. Because Precision never leaves you high and dry, they literally handed me everything plus the kitchen sink, a UV filter, camera bags, straps, clips, cords and an extra battery grip.
Now I have quite a storied past with camera rentals and I’m known to grab a few extra items when the shoot merits. I’ve had some downright terrible experience with rental gear that is shipped, or ordered online and picked up, only to discover that it’s not what you were hoping for (won’t name names). What I really love about Precision rentals is that they’re A) reliable, super reasonable, and they literally make sure you’ve got more than you need, but also; B) it’s really easy to just cruise up to Anderson Lane and grab what you need, rather than dealing with shipping costs, delivery times and all that junk. Plus they greet you with a smile and a hug. Or maybe it’s secretly an; “Oh, HER again? What crazy sh*t is she asking for this time??”
Read: Why would you rent online when all of this is available right in your very own city?? Also, they’re really very nice and just laugh when I propose the crazy sh*t. Anyways, I grabbed my gear early in the week, thanked my lucky stars that PCV had my back, and headed to Monday’s shoot, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was totally ‘ballin with all that gear. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play on every single shoot, so here’s a highlight reel.
Monday: Gimble video fun at my local Austin haunt, Come And Take It Live. My priority act had to cancel due to the Death Flu going around (OK with me, keep your germs away!), so I had to make do with shooting less familiar bands. You win some, you lose some.
Tuesday: Already sore and tired. Met up with Des Rocs and team, Warehouse Live Houston. Great crowd, lovely venue, high-energy set and a nice crew. Started getting creative with the gimbal, proceeded to wow, awe and inspire said crew with my gimbaling prowess (is that even a word?). I don’t know. It was fun. My arms were toast after two days of gimbaling. And yes, it’s now a word.
Wednesday: Could barely lift my arms. Bruises appearing in weird places from unknown sources. Another favorite venue: Mohawk Austin, where I learned the true value of this a9 facial recognition technology in a packed crowd with no photo pit during both Des Rocs and The Glorious Sons’ sets. I nailed some crazy shots in ridiculously low light while getting jostled around, elbowed in the head and my toes stomped on somewhere in the rowdy crowd. Thanks to that a9 and my hefty f2.8 70-200mm telephoto lens, which a crew member later dubbed “The Bazooka,” I got some amazing content. Also, Bazooka? That’s gonna stick.
Thursday: Overslept my alarm. More bruises, but at least I know where they came from. Canton Hall Dallas with the Des Rocs crew once again. A new venue for me, but surprisingly nice and with excellent lighting. Due to the (larger) size of the venue, I managed some pretty awesome shots while hopping between a tightly-packed backstage area, the far-off upper back balcony, and a spacious, sizeable photo pit. It’s times like this that I am grateful for two different camera bodies set up and ready to go – allowing me to alternate seamlessly between my Sony a7iii with the 28-70mm lens and the a9 with aforementioned Bazooka, taking my photographic flexibility to new heights. If you’ve never tried shooting with two camera bodies, I highly recommend it (go visit Precision Camera rentals and they’ll help you with that). Bonus? Only once did I *almost* faceplant on stage. Unfortunately, Precision Camera cannot help me on the klutz factor.
Friday: My fifth and final evening, spent at Stubbs Austin with indie rock band Brother Moses. Somehow I catch a second wind, super stoked to meet this last band. We started our evening with a video interview backstage, and followed with a classic show shoot-and-review setup. This time, I was thankful for my wide angle (f2.8 16-35mm G-series) lens, helping me to grab a few close-to-the-stage shots in low light. Anyone who’s ever shot at Stubbs indoors knows just how challenging it is. Only great gear, too-high ISO and creativity can get you through it.
What a beautiful week. While I did sacrifice sleep for adventure, it was worth it. I’d trade a week of no sleep, constant shooting, way too many bruises/sore feet/pulled muscles, and never having a second to catch up on much of anything for this thing called ‘real life’ in a heartbeat. So much fun. From testing out my abilities with new/novel camera gear, to having an opportunity to get to know the crew of one of my favorite touring bands. It was a nonstop, jam-packed week of incredible photo opportunities, a lot of travel, crazy crowds and insanely good music. I walked out of there more appreciative of these artists – and what goes into making a tour happen – than when I’d started.
A special thank you to the Des Rocs crew – you are all incredible, kind, talented and passionate professionals. I appreciate you generously welcoming me into your space. You kept it fun, but you also taught me a lot about what it means to be a hard-working travelling professional. I’ve never met a more dedicated and talented crew. And if you are reading this and have never listened to Des Rocs before, stop immediately and GO LISTEN. I mean it. If we cross paths in the future and you haven’t listened to his music yet, I will hereby wrestle you to the floor, throw a pair of headphones on you and press play. It’s your choice.
A final thank you must go to Precision Camera for the gear. I do hope you stop over there when you next need some extra items. And do try out running with a second camera body – it will save you a lot of time and lens changes. Tell ‘em Kail sent you… because that’ll make for an interesting conversation.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go catch up on some sleep. Stay tuned next week for my second blog and feature on the video/photo content I captured during my 5S/5D.