At the end of every year I think the exact same thing: “There is no way next year could be any crazier than this year.” Yet, somehow, every year ends up feeling even wilder than the last. 2017 started with me wondering if I was going to get any tours. I had nothing lined up and nothing on the horizon other than a possible spot on Warped Tour, six months away. About three weeks before the tour started I ended up being hired by Against The Current to go to Europe with them for 45 days in February and March. I got to see so many amazing places and explore some of my favorite countries with some of my favorite people. I also ended up talking with the love of my life, Erin, on this tour after David (the former drummer of For Today) introduced the two of us via Instagram. So, if spontaneously being in Europe wasn’t enough, I met the woman of my dreams during this tour as well. I didn’t buy any cell service while I was over there, so I could often be found scrambling to find wifi any way I could so I could talk to her as much as possible – going as far as to sit outside a coffee shop at three in the morning in the freezing cold so I could keep talking to her for a couple of hours.
After I got back to the States from that run I had a few days off and then went into three straight tours that were about 10 days long each back-to-back with Gideon, Wolves At The Gate, and Phinehas/Erra. I then had about a week off, two days of which I flew to Las Vegas spontaneously to celebrate Will, the drummer of Against The Current’s, 21st birthday. I then hopped on tour with Hearts Like Lions for five weeks, where I officially got to meet my now girlfriend face-to-face for the first time when she came out to our show in Baltimore. Once that tour ended I spent a couple days in Long Beach and then flew up to Portland to have a little vacation with Erin and then flew back to Los Angeles to join up with Silent Planet for Warped Tour. It wasn’t until after eight weeks of Warped that I finally got a break and spent two months actually building a relationship with Erin.
While I was on my first real break in two and a half years I shot several weddings and elopements with Erin (since she’s the most insanely talented photographer I know and shoots weddings and elopements for a living and you should check out her stuff) and basically just travelled a whole lot.
In October I went on the most incredible two week tour with Needtobreathe who are by far the most professional band and crew I’ve ever had the pleasure of touring with. I was able to do the first couple weeks of the second leg of their All The Feels Tour through the southeast in a bunch of their favorite clubs. It was so cool seeing all the work that goes into making their shows happen and getting to work alongside so many amazing people. It was such a pleasure being tasked with creating content for them.
Then I had a few weeks off again where I shot some weddings with Erin and took a vacation to one of our favorite cities: Seattle. After our vacation I then embarked on my final tour of the year with Fit For A King on their co-headliner with In Hearts Wake. It was a blast getting to tour with a band I had shot at the very beginning of my career before I ever thought I could turn it into a career. I loved working with them on Warped, so getting to spend a bit more time with them was a blast.
2017 feels like such a whirlwind. I don’t think I’ve had a chance to sit down and breathe and reflect on everything that’s happened until now. However, I’m so grateful to God for all the opportunities he’s given me this year and for bringing the most amazing woman into my life. This has been a year I could never forget, filled with some of the most incredible people. I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store and am so thankful to all of you for hanging on for the ride with me.
1. Against The Current – Bordeaux, FR – February 15
I never thought I would be able to say I did a show on a boat in France, but that somehow happened this year. I thought for sure when the routing said we were playing iBoat in Bordeaux it was just going to be a boat themed venue, but when we pulled up I realized we were actually going to be on a boat that day. As soon as I walked onto the boat I knew we had to take promos of the three of them somewhere. We took a few shots that I liked, but I wasn’t necessarily in love with and then I saw this window and knew it would be the perfect framing. This ended up not only being one of my favorite photos of the tour, but definitely one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. It’s not every day you get to rock a boat.
2. Against The Current – Budapest, HU – February 26
Something about being in Europe made me feel extra creative. Seeing all the incredible architecture every day and all the incredible art and branding everywhere made me want to create and do things a bit more out of the box on this tour with Against The Current. As a result I ended up being really proud of everything I put together over the course of the 45 days I had with them. This photo was taken in one of my favorite cities, Budapest, at the only venue on this tour I had been to before. We took a bunch of photos throughout the courtyard of the venue and in the greenroom. Another favorite of mine was a silhouette shot in the greenroom, but this one ended up being my favorite from the session because I just love the cohesion of colors and framing of the shot a whole lot. It only took a few clicks to get the one I really liked too, which is a rarity.
3. The Head and The Heart – Las Vegas, NV – April 11
On a random off day in Las Vegas when I was with Wolves At The Gate we ended up going to see The Head and The Heart at the same venue we had played the night before since the guy who was filling in on bass for Wolves, Cody, was friends with their guitar tech (Cody is also a killer guitar tech who I got to know through touring with For Today). Cody’s friend Bailey got me a photo pass for the night, so I hopped in the photo pit and took some shots of a band I’d never listen to but who quickly became one of my favorites. Their production was very simple, so it made for some really clean photos. I loved this shot in particular a whole lot and I just loved watching them in general. So, this photo definitely had to make the list. I can’t remember the last time I watched a band live without ever having listened to a song of theirs and instantly becoming a fan.
4. Phinehas – Anaheim, CA – April 15
2017 was the year of me becoming really comfortable with portrait and promotional photography. This photo in particular is special to me because Phinehas asked me to take a last set of promos for their new record, Dark Flag, before their drummer left for Ukraine to become a missionary. He wasn’t even on this tour because he was getting ready to leave, but he came out to the show in Anaheim to hang out and take these photos. It was a privilege getting to not only be a part of their new record and first on Solid State, but also being able to take the last group of promos with Lee in them. Phinehas was the second band to ever take me on tour. So, I’m very thankful to have been able to take these photos.
5. Nick Sturz – Denver, CO – May 23
One of my favorite parts of touring is seeing friends all across the country and the world and introducing my friends to each other. Every time I’m in Denver I make sure to stop by Bellwether and see my friend Josh. I was so excited to get to spend a few hours hanging out at Bellwether when I was with Hearst Like Lions in May. For those who know me you’ll know that I love coffee, probably more than any human should, and Bellwether is one of my favorite spots in the country – not just because of the great company, but their great coffee as well. If you’re ever in town, Bellwether should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit.
6. Erin Krespan – Portland, OR – June 6
The best thing to happen to me in 2017 was Erin Krespan. She came into my life at just the right time and has been the biggest blessing to me since the day we started talking in March. We began dating in May, but since I was on tour for that entire month we took a little mini vacation to Portland in June and I got to show her around my favorite city in the US. One of my favorite days was when we rented a car and drove out to the coast. We walked down the beach for miles, talking, laughing, taking photos of each other and just enjoying actually getting to spend quality time together. This was by far my favorite shot of my favorite girl. Love that smile so much.
7. Fit For A King – Seattle, WA – June 16
It’s not often I get my favorite photo of the tour on day one, but that’s definitely what happened on Warped Tour. Right before Fit For A King’s first set of the summer I noticed how amazing the buildings looked behind the Mutant Stage. So, I pulled them aside and snapped a few quick photos. I still can’t believe how cool the buildings looked with all the clouds reflecting on them. There’s no doubt I got really lucky with this one, especially since it had been rainy and grey the entire day before on production day.
8. Silent Planet – Wantagh, NY – July 8
I remembered Wantagh being one of my favorite days of Warped last summer. So, it’s no surprise one of my favorite photos from this summer came from that day. I love the venue in Wantagh because there’s a massive amphitheater on the water that’s used for catering and production, and the weather is almost always really great (not to mention overcast, which is perfect for photos). Garrett always jumps out into the crowd for the last song of their set, “Depths II.” So, my work is definitely cutout for me. I spend every tour trying to get that money shot of him in the crowd, and this was easily the money shot of Warped. One of the things that originally drew me to Silent Planet before I started touring with them was the emotion conveyed throughout their set and that’s something I’ve been striving to capture ever since we started working together three years ago.
9. Megan and Ruben – Brooklyn, NY – August 31
Like I mentioned previously, my girlfriend, Erin, is an insanely talented wedding and elopement photographer. After Warped while I was off tour in August and September she roped me into shooting a bunch of them with her and by far my favorite was an elopement we shot together in Brooklyn at the end of August. It seems I can’t escape the rock, because the groom was the bass player of Tenth Avenue North (coincidentally a band that both Erin and I took photos of in middle school with our very first point and shoot cameras on the same tour probably about a week apart, but that’s a story for another day). Ruben and Megan were so amazing and I’m so honored to have been a part of their day with Erin. I love this photo in particular because it definitely captures all the grandeur of NYC while contrasting it with the very serene moment of the newlywed Megan and Ruben.
10. Alex and Clayton – Washington D.C. – September 2
Easily one of my favorite places I got to shoot with Erin was the National Portrait Gallery in DC. We shot a wedding together right across the street and the couple, Alex and Clayton, wanted to do their portraits and bridal party photos across the street at the Gallery. It was so fun running around the building taking photos of the two of them. There were so many I loved from this session, but this was by far my favorite. I loved this piece of art and I think it makes for something really cool and different.
11. Erin Krespan – Baltimore, MD – September 15
One of the many reasons I love Erin is because she is one of the hardest working people I know. On top of being the best wedding photographer in the business, she gets hit up by companies all the time to work with them. One of the many companies she’s worked with is Timex. She was sent the watch in the photo above. So, we drove up to Baltimore, drank some coffee, and took some portraits of her wearing the watch for them. It was a bonus for me because I got to go on a date with a cute girl and take some photos of my favorite person. This photo of her was my phone background for my entire next tour, which is always a good sign I really like that photo.
12. John Mark McMillan – Vienna, VA – September 15
This day was a special one for me because John Mark McMillan’s publicist hit me up to take portraits and live photos of him after they used one of my photos for the branding for his fall tour. The photo they used was one I took last year when I shot him opening up for Needtobreathe in Portland, which was my first time shooting them and what ended up getting me a gig with them in October of this year. Working with John Mark was a blast. I’ve seen him play a few times now, so I loved walking around with talking and shooting a few portraits of him before his show in Virginia.
13. Needtobreathe – Norfolk, VA – October 4
Every night with Needtobreathe was an adventure; because of how great their production is and all the fun things the guys do every night, I never ran out of things to shoot. The first night I got super lucky and happened to get a pretty good shot of Bo playing guitar on a rolling platform out in the crowd. Since it was show one I completely forgot which song it was that he was going out into the crowd, so I had the wrong lens on to get the shot I wanted. I was determined to get the perfect one the next night in Norfolk, especially after I saw how cool the venue looked from the stage. I made sure I was in position during “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now” with my Sigma 20mm lens on and then snapped away.
14. Needtobreathe – Washington D.C. – October 5
Night three of the tour I was determined again, this time to get the perfect shot of Bear in the crowd during the first song of the encore. He had a special jacket custom made for this song with a bunch of round mirrors on it and then a couple guys would follow him around with lights to reflect off it. After the last song ended I rushed out to front of house and waited for Bear to pop up in the middle of the crowd. I love how this one turned out with it being a silhouette of him. Definitely one of my favorite moments of the set every night.
15. Needtobreathe – Nashville, TN – October 16
One of the many reasons I was stoked for this tour with Needtobreathe was that I got to check a bucket list venue off my list: the Ryman in Nashville. The Ryman is a legendary venue that every big artist in the last half decade or so has played at one time or another. I couldn’t believe I finally got to be a part of a show there. I really wanted to get a photo from directly behind Bear that night that showcased the iconic venue. So, near the end of the set I snuck out behind the lights when I knew there was a part that all the lights went up and took a couple quick shots of Bear. This photo is definitely very special to me.
16. Erin Krespan – Seattle, WA – November 2
In November Erin and I took a vacation to Seattle, her favorite city and definitely one of my favorites too, to celebrate the end of wedding season for her. One day we decided to drive out to Rattlesnake Lake even though it was raining pretty hard (but when is it not raining in Seattle, ya know?). We really wanted to go see it and take a few photos. So, we drove an hour or so outside of town and wandered down to the lake to take some photos. The one good thing about the rain is that it was nice and overcast, which was perfect for these photos. I love this one because besides being one of my favorite photos of Erin, I think it shows off the amazing landscape of Rattlesnake Lake. I loved this day a whole lot.
17. Fit For A King – Baltimore, MD – November 20
On my final tour of the year I had a whole lot of battles with purple lights. Most photographers will tell you that purple lights are some of their least favorites because they can be really hard to edit. They quickly became some of my favorites though on this tour. A lot of Fit For A King’s production utilized purple lights. So, I really had to get good at making them look great in post-production. I was really proud of this one because I loved the framing of it but it was completely purple. However, after some work, I was able to bring the skin tones back into it and make it look completely natural. Drummers also used to be the most intimidating part of shooting shows to me. So, that’s an extra bonus of this shot.