Back in October, I made my annual trek to New York City for Photo Plus Expo. But this year I did something that I hadn’t done in previous years… I signed up to have my portfolio reviewed while I was there.
These portfolio reviews are a little different than most others. They’re done by creative directors from major magazines, art buyers from ad agencies, photo editors from wire services, and other people who see tons of images every day from a multitude of photographers (and some of them are photographers themselves). My experience with this was a good one, but that’s another blog post for another day. I mention these portfolio reviews because one of them led to the events that took place this past weekend…
The last review I had was with a photo editor from Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, a company that owns 850 radio stations across the country. She liked my work so much that she wound up hiring me to cover the Jingle Ball concerts for Y100 in Miami and 93.3 FLZ in Tampa.
The lineups for these shows included everyone from up and coming artists like Walk The Moon, Karmin, and Austin Mahone…
…to megastars like Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias, and Justin Bieber.
And since I was shooting for Clear Channel, I got an all access pass to both shows.
I arrived to the venues early so I could make sure I knew my way around, and to shoot some of the gear with artists’ names on it (think along the lines of Scott’s Travel Photography class, where he talks about shooting license plates and other small things to include in your photo book).
This kind of stuff may not make it into the immediate galleries that get posted online, but my editor asked for it so they can have it to include in other things Clear Channel might create throughout the year. Plus some of it is just cool behind the scenes stuff that most people don’t get to see!
With the all access pass, I was able to roam the halls and try to bump into the artists before and between sets. I didn’t have too many encounters like this, but all it takes is a couple.
I saw the guys from Walk The Moon signing posters before the show and struck up conversation with them for a few minutes. That set me up to get these shots as they came out of their dressing room to take the stage…
Once the shows started, there was hardly any time to breathe with only 2-4 minutes between each act. Both cities had a rotating stage so that one band’s setup could be prepared on one side while another band was performing on the other side.
That’s a shot of the stage in the process of spinning around, with the radio station’s banner up in the middle to act as a wall between the front and back.
This was the first time I’ve ever had a “card runner,” which is someone who takes cards from me and delivers them to the photo editor so they can download and edit photos to be uploaded while the show is still going on. I had heard of this happening for Sports Illustrated photographers at the Super Bowl and other important events, but it was a first for me! My only fear was, “Oh crap… My editor is going to see all the bad shots too!” But, since she’s also a photographer, I’m pretty sure she knows the bad to good shot ratio that exists for just about any photographer, so all was fine.
Some of the artists were on the bill for both shows, like OneRepublic:
So after shooting them the first night, I knew exactly what to expect the second night. Which meant I knew that on their last song, lead singer Ryan Tedder was going to make his way into the crowd. The first night, I went into the crowd behind him and got some okay shots. But the second night, I walked backward in front of him, shooting as he walked through all the screaming girls till he wound up here:
That’s probably my favorite shot of the entire weekend :-)
Though, it was definitely fun to photograph the most watched person on YouTube as well…
After seeing all these acts in such a short amount of time, one person I am interested to watch as his career continues is Ed Sheeran. This guy seems like the real deal. He was a bit shy and humble in the press line, seems very talented, and the girls were going crazy for him.
During his last song, he asked the crowd take out their cell phones and light up the arena:
All in all, it was an exciting, exhausting, fun, crazy weekend. Can’t wait till next year!
As with most shows I shoot, I used two camera bodies (D4 & D700) and three lenses (14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, & 70-200mm f/2.8). I actually only had one body (the D700), but I also got a D4 from the fine folks at LensProToGo, and was able to rock all weekend long!
All photos by Brad Moore for iHeartRadio