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Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series on photographing music festivals. Be sure to also check out Part 1: Gear for Photographing Music Festivals, and Part 2: Camera Setup and Post-Workflow for Music Festivals

Bonnaroo Day 1

We began our first day the same way we wound up beginning all but the last day, with a team breakfast at Cracker Barrel (we went to Waffle House on the last day). These breakfasts gave us a chance to just hang in a relaxed environment and talk with one another, whether it was about life, photography in general, or specific things about the festival. Plus we were able to load up with fuel to face the rest of the long day ahead of us. After breakfast each day, we had a little time to gather ourselves and our gear before we loaded into vehicles to head to the festival.

The Ferris Wheel at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

My Bonnaroo Experience

Now, let me preface all of this by saying one thing… I know that my Bonnaroo experience was not that of people who were just there in attendance, nor was it that of photographers who may have been there covering it for a publication or media outlet, nor was it that of the people who were shooting for the festival. So, if you’re looking at any of this in hopes of finding out what Bonnaroo is like from any perspective other than covering it for Red Bull, this will only be somewhat insightful. The passes I had allowed me to do some things and go some places others weren’t able to go, but I was also not able to do some things or go certain places others were able to go. With that said, here’s how my first day at Bonnaroo went!

Upon arrival each day, we parked in whatever lot it was we were designated to park in somewhere behind What Stage (aka the main stage), then walked to the Red Bull production trailer. Inside the trailer was a flurry of activity that included everyone from us photographers and our assistants to editors, producers, and a bevy of other people whose roles I’m still not 100% sure of, but I know they were more important than me. I’ll just suffice it to say that there was a lot of people doing a lot of work alongside each other in a relatively small space, but we all had a lot of fun together throughout the event.

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Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. If you missed it, check out the first one, Gear For Photographing Music Festivals.

As creatives, we want to focus on creating, right? But if we don’t have the technical side of things set up properly, it can hinder our ability to create on a larger level. Like, if I spend more time than absolutely necessary downloading my images and manually adding metadata every single time, it’s going to take longer for me to get back out to all of the amazing things happening that I want to photograph.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

So, by taking the time to set ourselves up for success BEFORE we arrive to a job, we are able to focus on actually creating and doing a better job at it. Here are the steps I took to do just that ahead of photographing Bonnaroo.


Camera Setup

First, I made sure the dates and times were synced up exactly between the two camera bodies. This is vital when you’re covering an event with more than one camera body, as well as when you’re working with other photographers. If things aren’t synced up correctly, it can cause your editor and others huge headaches trying to keep everything straight and in order.

Matoma performs at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

After that, I got all my settings dialed into one body, then copied those settings onto a CF card, put that card into the other camera, and loaded the settings onto that body. Then I entered in my copyright and artist info into the metadata of each body. I also used the Canon EOS Utility to input “1” or “2” into the Instructions IPTC info on each camera. More on this in a bit.

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Photo by Jordan Dunn

With music festival season already beginning, I thought I would share this post from my blog a few years ago, when I got the call to photograph Bonnaroo for the first time. In preparation for the event, I researched and asked other photographers what to expect. Here’s the gear I ended up bringing, why I chose it, and how I used it. If a festival is in your near future, I hope this helps!

CAMERA GEAR OVERVIEW

Here’s a breakdown of the gear I used at the festival:

Attendees enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 10, 2017.

I wanted to make sure I captured the best, highest quality images I could, so I got a couple of the blazing fast 1DX Mark II bodies from Canon. These, coupled with the “lens trinity,” set me up for success in the photo pits while photographing sets and around the festival grounds capturing lifestyle images. I used the 24-70mm f/2.8 a little here and there, but for the most part I stuck to the 70-200mm f/2.8 and 11-24mm f/4.

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As a live music photographer, I love to keep up with other photographers’ work to stay inspired. I could easily put together a list of people who have helped and inspired me along the way (like Alan Hess, Adam Elmakias, David Bergman, Todd Owyoung, and so on), but today I’ll share with you some photographers’ work you may not already be familiar with.


Michelle Grace Hunder

Based in Australia, Michelle’s portfolio features amazing live images that evoke a full range of emotion, as well as incredibly striking artist portraits from the studio and on-location.

Website | Instagram | Twitter


Greg Noire

The words that come to mind when looking at Greg’s work are “clean color,” because his combination of composition and use of color are just that. I also love that his portfolio scrolls through a progression of color. His black and white work is fantastic, as is his portrait work.

Website | Instagram | Twitter


Ashley Osborn

If you follow live music, you should already know Ashley. But if you don’t, now you do. Billie. Selena. Olivia. These are just a few of the artists she’s worked with recently, and that’s not even her tour/live work. Add Twenty One Pilots, Blink 182, Lizzo, Taylor Swift, and a ton of others to the list once you get to that body of work. Ashley has long been one of my favorites, and now she can be one of yours!

Website | Instagram | Twitter


Andy Barron

I first discovered Andy through his work with Switchfoot, and he’s since gone on to tour with a number of other artists. He’s currently working with Chris Stapleton, and was even nominated for Favorite Tour Photographer in the iHeart Radio Music Awards! Always an inspiration, always creating beautiful work.

Website | Instagram | Twitter


Anna Lee

Whether on tour photographing her artists’ sets, documenting their lives off stage, or in the studio making portraits, Anna Lee is always making great images! If you’re at a show and spot a photographer with blue hair, there’s a good chance it could be her.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

Editor’s Note: This is a post from the archives that I thought was very worth re-sharing. I’ve been a fan of Erik’s for many years and was honored when he agreed to put this post together. The advice here is still as applicable today as it was when it was originally posted, so enjoy!

I believe there’s opportunity for everyone to have commercial success as a photographer in today’s market. This as long as they have a unique and honest perspective.

Hi!

I’m excited to be writing for Scott Kelby and the Guest blog Wednesday!

I’m also excited about the current state of photography!

Really excited!

Daily I get questions through e-mail and social media. They span a wide range but the BIG question I get asked, among practical advice on gear, computers and offers of coffee and beer is: “How do I MAKE it as a photographer?”

How do I break into advertising photography and how do you get the jobs that you do?

To be honest, I asked myself the same question for years as I attempted to break into the world of advertising.

If you are at a point where you have absorbed tons of photographic knowledge through school or online learning, know photo is your passion and you want to make this your career, it’s not unusual to ask yourself…

Now what?

How does one get hired to do this thing you are so crazy passionate about??

There’s a lot of writing in social media and the blogosphere about how hard and competitive it is to succeed as a full-time photographer. So I thought I’d use this time to share some optimism and give a different perspective about the things that excite me about the opportunities in photography today.

What I believe is this; there are opportunities for everyone to have commercial success as a photographer in today’s market.

This as long as they have a unique and honest perspective.

Before I get into this, I want to give you a brief background on what I do and share some signature images of mine that represents who I am as a photographer.

In short I’m a Norwegian photographer who, since 1995, been residing in the US.

I got started in photography by being curious…

There were a few friends that had cameras and I joined them in a darkroom course while in the National Defense in Norway.

At the time I skied a lot and started taking pictures of my friends floating through powder and flying off cliffs. Out of these adventures on the ski slopes came my first published pictures and marked the start of me as a photographer.

Later, at 22, when faced with the crossroads of, “What do I do with my life?” decided to study photography. Through great advice and some random encounters I ended up in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University where I studied photography for 4 years, earning a BFA.

From there, I was a camera assistant for almost 3 years before venturing out on my own, starting my photography business.

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Brad standing in for a photo while assisting Robby Klein at The Ryman in 2017.

Photographing Johnnyswim at The Ryman Auditorium

While it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a show with the pandemic going on and a little one at home to keep safe, this one is one that will always stand out in my memory as a favorite.


A Proposal and Another Surprise

Before we get to this show, let’s rewind just a little… Back in 2017, Johnnyswim played two sold-out Christmas shows at The Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Before their first concert my girlfriend (now wife), Katelyn, and I got engaged. Just before they played our favorite song, Touching Heaven, they gave us a little shoutout and dedicated the song to us as a congratulations!

The set list with Touching Heaven dedicated to me and my now-wife, Katelyn!

I had managed to set this all up through a mutual friend the band and I have. And as my way of saying thanks, I photographed their second show a week and a half later. You can see more of those photos and read all about it right here.


An Unexpected Text Message

Fast forward to May 10, 2019, which just happened to be our six month wedding anniversary, and Katelyn and I are deciding what we want to do for the evening. My phone buzzes, and I look at it… It’s Abner from Johnnyswim asking if I’m available to photograph their show at The Ryman that night. I ask if he can throw in a ticket for Katelyn to come with me, he obliges, and we’re on our way!

Johnnyswim perform for a sold-out crowd on May 10, 2019 at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN

One of my favorite things about photographing a show for the artist is, most of the time, you’re allowed all access, to photograph the entire show from anywhere in the venue. And with this being one of the most historic, renowned venues in the world, I wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity.

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