Why Stay Local?
The other day I was asked why I choose to photograph local bands over big name bands. It made me reflect on where I was when everything started. Some background about where it all began: I had some crappy Canon point and shoot. Literal spray and pray. I had no editing software and my images were absolute garbage. I have no shame in saying that I really sucked at what I did, and like all things it takes practice to become who you are and really develop a style.
I think I was 14 when this all started and I worked with bands from high school. The Last Romance (Greet the Sea), Blacklight (Sleepwell Citizen), Marine View Drive, Martyr Reef, Aiden, as well as a few others. These were the bands that shaped me, I did what I could to help my friends succeed. (I was closer to some than others). Providing web content, building sites, supporting my friends in all ways that I could have. I even dabbled in recording. With one crappy mic and Audacity, but no matter what, I was there to support the local scene. At fourteen I thought I was the shit, and nothing would stop me. What I recognize now? I was wrong. We are not invincible, but we have the ability to immortalize events through images and sounds.
So why, 14 years later am I still supporting local musicians by offering photographs at low rates? Let’s face it, the music industry is hard enough as it is. Photography is just another expense that could be too far out of reach for some. There are bands out there that are throwing their all into their music. With a band comes: merch, promotional items, stickers, flyers, and most importantly, gear. There are bands out there that are still kids and don’t have day jobs (hopefully they never will). There are bands out there that just started out and need some sort of coverage, because at the moment money is tight. This scene is important for the future, because without these musicians there will be no future. If no one believes in them, how are they going to succeed? Photographers are expensive, that’s the bottom line. I’ve read of some bands being charged well over $300 just for a photographer to cover a live set that is only 45 minutes long (if that). Personally I feel that the money spent on pictures could go to something much more important, be it gas money or even food.
One of the guys from Polarwest made a fantastic point about photography. Without images, it is difficult to build up a brand. Websites would be bare and uninviting. There would be nothing for fans to connect with. It also makes it difficult to be noticed without content. All websites are made up with graphics of some sort, be it basic graphic design alone, or photos of members in the band. All of it important, and sometimes it can be overlooked because it just isn’t feasible, or too far out of budget.
I also believe in the local scene of the PNW. The people I have worked with are an amazing group of talented, kind and amazing artists, but most of all they are hard-working and have a dream. They’re trying to make it, trying to succeed in something they’re passionate about. To me capturing their history is important. Reflecting on where they started once they make it big? It is important. And honestly? Some of these bands just want someone to believe in them, and to support them (both musically and personally). Over this last year I have met amazing individuals and consider most of them my friends, even if we don’t socialize outside of shows much. The thing is? I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.
Watching them succeed in what they’re passionate about only stokes my fire, urging me to become better so that I can support up and coming acts. Providing the next generation of greatness with an opportunity in which they may not be able to afford. To me, this isn’t about the money, it never has been it probably never will be, and I’m okay with that. It’s about seeing the faces on these individuals who bleed for what they do. Capturing the hope and passion they have and giving them graphic history of what they have done. That’s all I need.