I’ve been taking pictures for ten years now, and there’s not much in my life that I haven’t commemorated with a photograph, but nothing has ever gotten to me like photographing live music. The interest started when I took pictures for a friend’s open mic night he was hosting at a coffee house on UC’s campus. Capturing the emotion of the people pouring their hearts out on stage was cathartic for me. It made me feel like I was part of something. Music has always touched the parts of my heart that I can’t really talk about out loud or put into words, and being able to take pictures of music being created was like a whole new level of happiness for me.
I started shooting for online publications, and at small bars and venues that didn’t have rules about bringing in a camera. Learning how to translate what I’m seeing and the feeling I’m getting from the performers in front of me into a picture has been and still is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done artistically. But it’s also the most rewarding. My style has evolved since I first started, and now I have two Vans Warped Tour dates and some of my dream shows under my belt. I’ve even sold a picture to Kerrang! Magazine, which was a pinch-yourself kind of moment. But I still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. I have a lot more to learn, and I’m never really satisfied with my work.
Being a touring photographer and being able to support myself through different facets of photography is my ultimate dream, but up until the middle of February I had never gone on a tour at all. My friends in the Cincinnati hardcore band Homebound gave me the chance to finally change that. I’ve had a lot of mental health issues over the past two years, and they’ve set me back. So when Homebound asked me to come along for a week long tour that would take us through ten states in seven days, I was excited, but I was pretty nervous too. I didn’t know if I could handle it without having to go to an emergency room, or having some sort of breakdown.
But it turns out that taking a deep breath and getting in the van was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I finally proved to myself that I can do this. We traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio, through Kentucky and Tennessee to our first date in Huntsville, Alabama. Then it was down to New Port Richey, Florida and Panama City, Florida. We got to hit the beach on our day off and then drove through Georgia and South Carolina to have dinner and hang out at the drummer Zack’s uncle’s house in North Carolina the next night. Then it was off to Roanoke, Virginia for the last date of the tour and a long drive back home through the night.
Sleeping in a van in different Walmart parking lots with six guys and stopping for showers at YMCA’s and Planet Fitness might sound like hell to some people. But to me, it was one of the best times of my life. I never felt like I wasn’t included and I laughed more than I have in a long time. The guys put their hearts into it every night, no matter the size of the audience, and it was really cool to see the subtle differences in each performance. Homebound got to play outside for the first time at a biker bar in New Port Richey, and they killed it. We all got super sunburnt on the beach, but we were on THE BEACH in FEBRUARY! That’s unheard of for midwest kids like us.
After free Chipotle, Zack almost fighting the drive thru attendant at Cookout, some huge bruises from me falling over the trailer hitch in the dark, 40 degrees one day and 70 the next, promo pictures at a random car wash in the middle of nowhere, making great friends with the band we were touring with (Edorra), and getting to run around in the ocean, I think the Dead World Tour turned out to be one for the books. It was definitely the best first experience I could’ve asked for, and I can’t wait until the next one.