What a day, and not for all the right reasons! On the way to Clapham, I drove over a piece of metal, destroying a new and very expensive tyre. When I got there, we were told – unsurprisingly – that we would be shooting Aerosmith from way back at the mixing desk. Quite why they are doing so on this tour is the subject of much speculation, but it makes for crap photos which is why I’ve posted my favourite shot of Richie Sambora instead.
I didn’t do his set justice at Download, nor for that matter did I get many shots of Joe Bonamassa that day that I was happy with, but I came away with shots I was really pleased with for both artists today.
It got even better when Richie Sambora and his guitarist / girlfriend Orianthi came in to the press tent to do interviews and then photos. Now I have loved the early Bon Jovi albums since I was a teenager, so to have the opportunity to meet him was incredible.
The Aerosmith shoot was predictably poop. Just that bit too far away to get particularly interesting shots, and because they came on so early they were playing in broad daylight. If it had been dark it would have been much better.
After all that I then crawled home very slowly on a wrecked tyre with a massive screw sticking out of it – somehow it held up all the way home!
The main reason for trekking back to the Derbyshire countryside again for this year’s Download Festival was to shoot Aerosmith. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of other highlights along the way, like The Pretty Reckless, Rob Zombie and The Offspring – who played Smash in its entirety for example, but the weekend belonged to Aerosmith.
Three years ago when they headlined, we were in the pit and although we were contained to a relatively small part of it, it was still an amazing shoot. Not so this time. For reasons that remain unclear, they have been relegating photographers to the mixing desk, which believe me is the last place you want to be when shooting such an energetic and visual band – you want to be up close to the action. It appears to be down to the fact they now have two photographers travelling with them, and it is perhaps an attempt to give them some exclusivity for some reason.
I deliberated long and hard over what to do and I decided in the end against shooting on an official pass. I chose instead to head in to the crowd and take my chances which is something I would not normally do. As I’d gone in early, I ended up with a great position, about 15-20 rows back from the end of the runway which they used a lot. So every time one or both of them came down, I risked a few sneaky shots with my 300mm. The lighting was incredible and the show was incredible. Good shots amongst an excited crowd was only ever going to be a bonus, and what a bonus it was. I couldn’t believe how well some of the shots turned out considering where I was shooting from. I just hope that the next time they tour, they do away with the ridiculous restrictions.
Lorde was very much on my bucket list of artists to shoot. She has come from nowhere and mesmerised pretty much the entire planet and I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. My research showed that at the previous show in Berlin, photographers had been banished somewhere to the back of the arena and the same was so tonight.
For reasons unknown, we were placed high up to stage right on a balcony, just a horrific shooting angle. It was such a shame to be so far away from her because she is such an expressive performer.
As it turned out, she performed the first song in front of a black curtain with very contrasty light which meant that many of my shots give the impression of having been shot from close up, especially given how sharp and fast the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens is. Song two was a blur of reds and blues and in between the strobes on song three there were some nicely lit shots to be had.
I have to say that all in all it was a save – I was very pleased with the shots given our lousy shooting position. She has a fantastic voice – very much a Gothic style Florence + The Machine. Let’s just hope she let’s photographers back in the pit soon, because I’m sure she is going to be around for a very long time to come.