So next week Arcade Fire's 4th full length album drops. It follows their Grammy award winning album of the year and is probably the most anticipated album of the fall for the indie market.
For me personally Arcade Fire hold a special place in my heart, back when I first bought my DSLR and I first moved to Philadelphia. I was still learning the basics in terms of how to use my camera and I was still figuring out this whole shooting shows thing. Along side life changes, was The Suburbs, a record that I will admit was too long and not my favorite from Arcade Fire. But none the less it was my go to for the Delta cross country flight back to Philadelphia. It was on constant rotation when I trekked to Bonnaroo that summer and when I went to Newport Folk for the first time. So when A last minute opportunity came up to photograph them. I jumped on it
I arrived at the Mann Center of the performing arts about 20 minutes before they went on, hearing the last few minutes of Spoons opening set from the distance. To this day I still can't remember a set where I reached this level of excitement and adrenaline wile shooting. Because the venue doubled and the philadelphia orchestras summer home, the actual photo pit doubled as the pit level seats for the extremely luck concert goers.
Looking back, I'm a bit embarrassed at the level of gear that I entered that pit with. I just want to give my past self a 50mm 1.4 or a 35mm 1.8 and say you don't deserve to be this close to Win Butler. Back in the day when I first started, I bought a Nikon D5000 (which at the time was the newest mid-range crop sensor DSLR) and a kit lense 55-200mm lens. Yes thats it, and that was It for a LONG time. most if not all my shots for the first year and a half of shooting were with this set up. I was a poor college student and the idea of spending over 200 dollars on 50mm or 35mm was crazy. My past self would be like "get into all these shows for free and thats like 10 cases of PBR".
So in this frugal and absolutely terrible set of gear, I can take one piece of silver lining away from this trip to the MANN. After the first three songs I put my camera away, happy with my shots and they left me in the pit, or forgot to ask me to leave. I ended up getting to stand front row, no more than 5 feet away from Win Butler and Régine Chassagne for their entire 2 hr set as they blazed through a medley of songs from my summer. It was a bit of a career lesson for me, this was the moment I realized where the line was for me between photographer and fan.
The rule getting your shots, shots that you could be proud of, shots that will make your client happy, shots that even with terrible gear you can look back at 3 years later and be ok with. And after those shots are in the bag, thats when you can let out your inner fan and put the camera to the side and be engulfed in what you love.
And I can tell you confidently that every music photographer has a inner music nerd. There is no other type of photographer that would take as many jobs as we do with little pay or most cases no pay at all. We do it because when our shots are in the bag we can still satisfy that inner music nerd's thurst to be that close to someone who has been their summer sound track. A level of proximity that almost no one else will experience.