Outside Lands is in a few days and I’m looking forward to photographing its performers and festival shenanigans (August 8-10 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco). It was at that exact festival a few years ago – stage view obstructed by the crowd, senses intruded by wafting armpits – that I swore to myself that I would never again simply watch a live performance without my camera. The outcome of that self-fulfilling prophecy was wonderfully ironic … my press/photo pass does indeed now plop me in the front of fronts, only now I jostle with linemen-size photographers … also with active armpits. Close to the sound? You betcha. But only for the tantalizing first 3 songs (unless you’re buds with the stage manager) and then you’re herded out of the pit to the back of the sea of crowds. Wash and rinse about 15 times a day.
At times, I’m able to prearrange a 5-min band portrait for promotional purposes. Finding a visually appealing (or at least neutral) spot backstage, posing the distracted band in an interesting way and lighting it with minimal gear at hand … ah that is the challenge. Does the resulting image tell a (brief) story about the artist(s) … yes? Success!
But wait … there’s more! The technicolor ecosystem of the festival itself – a show in itself rivaling a busy New Delhi intersection! Might not match the epic proportions of a Woodstock, but the Outside Lands organism is one strange and colorful and wonderful animal.