portraits and commercial photographer
How A Stage Dive Convinced Me To Carry 2 Camera Bodies
I was shooting Lollapalooza 2010 with 1 camera body and 2 lenses, switching between them all weekend. Green Day was one of the headliners that year. At one point during the first 3 songs of their set, an audience member was invited to the stage by lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong, to join him in singing. The audience member had a flag with him (unclear why). He was peeled out of the front row of the crowd and brought on stage.
After singing for a bit, Billie Joe announced this fan was going to do a stage dive. The stage backdrop had a video of flames shooting up, the guy was going to fly off the stage holding his flag. This was going to be epic! Billie Joe was encouraging us to put down our cameras to catch him, but the potential collision of diver with photographers + gear didn’t sound good for anyone. Instead, security and others in the pit gathered quickly to catch the diver while photographers quickly moved away from the catching zone.
This setup all happened fast enough that I didn’t have time to switch the longer lens (70-200) I had on my only camera body to a wider one (24-70); I just wanted to get out of the way before he dove and make room for those who would catch him. If I had time, I also hoped to get a shot of the jump. The pit at this stage had a long open area going from the stage back to the soundboard; I ran as far back up this open stretch as I could in the couple seconds I had, then turned around to try to get a shot off.
I was able to get 2 decent closely-cropped portrait-orientation frames off of the jump but missed the wide shot with a much better context to set the scene. The diver was caught safely and the show raged on. You can see the end of this play out in this YouTube clip.
My takeaway, immediately, was that I needed to start carrying 2 camera bodies to be prepared for moments when I don’t have time to switch lenses. When I got home from Chicago, I got a second matching camera body and have carried 2 bodies at the same time ever since. And, I’ve always carried both with a BlackRapid double strap (as you can see in my portrait below).
I have spent a year of my life outside of the US
Born in Detroit, live in Seattle. I’ve shot for Getty Images since 2016 and for KEXP radio in Seattle since 2007. I occasionally contribute to Rolling Stone and Premier Guitar, shot for Corbis for years before Getty. I have contributed to Spin, Billboard, Kerrang!, MOJO and many others. Run house photo crews for Capitol Hill Block Party and Thing! in the Pacific Northwest. Work with Pearl Jam, Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, various commercial clients.
I hold patents in several countries for software designs from a prior life
And I am a certified ski instructor in the US. I have spent a year of my life outside of the US (UK, Europe, Iceland, and Asia) and another year sleeping outdoors in the US (split between trip leading and personal adventures).
Some of my favorite shots have a clear narrative
A moment at a live show when the artist has a visible intention, response, or interaction…a portrait that shows the subject(s) personality coming through…an image that really highlights what the subject is about. For these images, I think listening to/watching what’s going on is as essential as your physical position, camera settings, lens choice, etc. All of these elements are important, but when you snap and what you snap can make the difference between a nicely framed, well lit clear image and a story.
My suggestion is to form an opinion about the key dynamic in the room, or a great personality trait of your subject, or a detail of an object or situation, and strive to showcase that with your composition.
What’s in your bag?
- Two Nikon D850 bodies w/ supplemental grip/battery
- BlackRapid Double Breathe strap
- Nikon f/2.8 24-70.
- Nikon f/2.8 70-200
- Nikon f/4 300
- Godox V1-N flash
- Lens cloth, ThinkTank SD card wallet w/ lots of 128gb hi-speed cards
- Custom earplugs, Sunscreen, Business cards & stickers
- Extra flash battery and charger
- Surface Book 2 laptop & External Solid State hard drive
- Remote triggers
- A very small tripod
- Advil, Snacks, Water bottle