With every photo there is a story, it’s cliche to say but it’s very true. 2015 was an amazing year filled with so many new things like experiences, connections, opportunities, and friends. With each photo I have chosen as my best of 2015; each will have a short story to explain the significance of it. Let’s begin…
10. Taking Back Sunday - The Riviera Theatre
Oh man where do I start with Taking Back Sunday? From listening to them since I was in junior high to now, it’s been quite the adventure with each album and I can’t/won’t stop listening to them ever. This night was amazing because I got to share it with some of my Chicago photographer friends who I hadn’t seen in a while like Anam and Penelope who are talented af (just saying). To be there in that energy and with good company is all I needed for it be a kick ass night.
9. Fifth Harmony - Chicago - The Vic Theatre
Being called in to work with a particular artist is always great; it’’s even better when you realize you’ve listened to their music a lot without realizing it. This precisely that happened when I went to interview Jacob Whitesides, who was happening to be opening for Fifth Harmony. The sold out show already had my attention and as I spoke to the fans in the crowd they gave me a lesson on each act. Each fan there at the barricade was so nice, helpful, and definitely kept me entertained between sets. P.S. - I don’t shoot pop groups often so the production blew my mind!
8. X Ambassadors - Chicago - Lincoln Hall
X Ambassadors is a band that can definitely get me right in the feels. Seeing them at Lincoln Hall was a blast! From almost tearing up from hearing “Unsteady” to dancing to their song called “Fear”; it was one of the best shows I’ve been too lately. Also their lighting was a photographer’s dream and meeting their great fans who understood why I was shuffling around to get shots always makes it a even better experience.
7. Dark Waves - Chicago - Bottom Lounge
CMJ 2014, brought me to New York City to be part of a special event that Stache’ Media hosted for their alumni. There we listened to several up and coming artists and one of them was called Dark Waves. I really liked their music, so when I saw that they were coming to Chicago I knew I wanted to cover them. I took this shot of them all right before they took the stage and i shot of the side. After their set we did an interview and talked about CMJ and how I met them before. We chatted for a bit and before I knew it I offered to cook them food next time they were in town; an offer they took up on. A few days later I was carrying a bag of home cooked Chilean food to JBTV as they played a set. They were so appreciative of the food and it was just so nice to sit in and talk to everyone there. We hung out for a bit after their set before they headed back on the road and I woke up for my 8am class. Super great guys; I hope all the best for them in the new year. I’ll be prepared with food.
6. From Indian Lakes - Beat Kitchen
Well I don’t usually tear up at shows but when From Indian Lakes plays “Runner”; I lose it. From Indian Lakes is a band that I caught at Riot Fest in 2014 and had the chance to interview them. Joey Vannucchi was so down to earth and shared so much with me during our interview. A man who is a fan of coffee; so of course I recommended a few places for him to check out. Then to see them sell a packed show was amazing to see and been better to experience. I can honestly say that probably once a week I play the vinyl that I brought that night; it’s amazing after all.
5. New Politics - Riot Fest Chicago - Douglas Park
New Politics is a band that I caught not too long ago on tour and I didn’t get a chance to photograph them at the time. Instead I got to see them with my friend Emily and it was incredible! So much energy that put into their set and so naturally I was excited to see them at Riot Fest. After being called in very last minute to cover the festival I knew I would do whatever it took to cover it (sacrifice a pair of sneakers to the mud, weather conditions, ponchos, ect.) Riot Fest alone means so much to me, it truly means the beginning of Fall and getting decked out in my plaid. It also means that I get to see so many of my photographer friends and get to connect with so many other talented folk there. That weekend was great and every time I get the chance to photograph it means that world. So here’s to Riot Fest 2016; can’t wait to run through the mud again!
4. Hands Like Houses - Chicago - Vans Warped Tour
Oh man Warped Tour and I had so much going on this year; from being a finalist for pit reporter to running to the first stage as soon as I got in, this year as crazy! This Warped Tour was really special though and I could sense that through out the day. I brought one of my best friend’s Tawny to her first Warped Tour, I got to see so many of my friends working at different tents, started my first coverage for Digital Tour Bus, caught up with my photographer friends, and enjoyed each and every band that day. Yes it was hot as hell but totally worth it. I’ve been going to Warped Tour since 07’ and I have no intention of every missing it because it really brings me a sense of joy and summer; I think this photo captures that day's energy.
3. Bleachers - WKQX's PIQNIQ - Chicago
I fell in love with Bleachers earlier in the year when I kept hearing “I Wanna Get Better”. As I listened to the rest of the album “Strange Desire”; I knew I had to see them live! Every time they came to Chicago though it was sold out and I couldn’t even get in for press (bummer). Then I saw that they were playing WKQX’s PIQNIQ and I knew I should at least try to get in. So the day before my editor shot an email out and a few hours later I was approved! After trying to find a train to the venue or a ride there; I ended up taking two trains and walking 3 miles to get there…it was so worth it. Later being joined by my friend Ali and Tawny topped off of the day beautifully. Also I totally knocked out in the car ride home...no shame. P.S. - Bleachers reposted my photo, so waking up from a nap and seeing that was just damn perfection.
2. Twenty One Pilots - Lollapalooza Chicago - Grant Park
Alright this story is long and interesting to say the least. As I was sitting at the front desk of the museum I worked at before, I saw an email from my editor stating that the photographer they had for Lollapalooza was sick and couldn’t go to the festival. In other words…I had the chance to cover a festival that I had always wanted to photograph! In 0.05 seconds I emailed my editor calling dibs, yet because we were switching of the names of photo passes; it wasn't looking too good for me. To help the situation move along quicker I left work on my break and biked as quickly (and probably not safely) to Grant Park to work it all out. In the end, it was a no go and I biked home with my dreams and heart broken. I sat at the desk thinking “well shit I missed Friday, I’m missing today, and Twenty One Pilots is playing tomorrow… forget I’m buying a ticket”. The next day I got to Lolla early and ran to the stage that TØP would be at... just 5 hours early. As the sun shined on me (a.k.a. cooked me) I had so much respect for fans who do this all the time for shows. There in the heat as I wondered how sweet water would taste, I got an email stating that my confirmation went through and I needed to pick up my press pass ASAP. Just then a major announcement came on and said due to weather we had to evacuate the grounds….whaaaaat. So pretty much picture me running through people (in humidity), trying to get my press pass, then biking a few miles home, while calling one my best friends Tawny to come drive me back to Grant Park and come to Lolla with me. Then I hopped out of the car to run all the way back to the stage that TØP was at and making it just in time to photograph their set since it was delayed due to weather. After I photographed their set I hugged my gear and collapsed on the ground trying to breathe from the rush of everything that had just happened…water please…. I truly hope that I get the chance to photograph Lolla again; it was the highlight of my summer.
1. Twenty One Pilots - Spark In the Park Chicago - UIC Pavilion
I know, why do I have the same artists for the second and first photo of the year? Well this story is just as good as the previous one. I graduated UIC in May of 2015 and I was involved with UIC Radio, and every year they host a private concert for UIC students only. Of course the year I leave; it’s one of my favorite bands….love how that worked out. As the day got closer I realized I could still go to the show but I really wanted to photograph; almost like he knew my buddy Armin messaged me about the show. He asked if I could take photos of their band Tanzen since they were opening (winners of UIC Radio’s Battle of the Bands); soooooo I clearly said yes. When I got there, I was taken downstairs to where each artists had their green room; Wale was the first then Twenty One Pilots, and right across from theirs was Tanzen’s. Yup, I was so down with that. I got my gear ready and listened to TØP as they finished up soundcheck and as Wale did theirs. The only thing I wanted to do that day was to photograph, give Tyler and Josh a print of my photography, and enjoy the rest of the free show with my friends. At the end of the day, I did all those things exactly. I ran into Josh and Tyler and gave them both a copy of my photography (the shot I took of them at Lolla) and had them sign a bigger version for me. I was in a photo pit of 3 photographers that night, and my good friend Ashley and I watched backstage as the guys killed it at UIC. Even as I write this blog I have a few of my photos printed but my favorite is still the signed one by the guys. A HUGE thank you to them, UIC Radio, and of course my buddies in Tanzen for making it all happen.
Well that pretty much sums up most of my 2015 and as now stand in 2016; I can’t wait to see what happens next. Maybe go on tour, maybe move, maybe get published in more outlets or new publications. Who knows? All I know is that it’s going to one hell of a ride; let’s go.