photo by Howard Gaines 2012
photo by Pete Troshak
I often get asked how I became and/or what made me decide to become a music photographer. I didn't grow up expecting to be a photographer. I've had many of different jobs. Most of the time I would be working multiple jobs at once. At the moment I knew I wanted to go full out into music photography I was working at FedEx as a delivery driver. I was taking a lot of photographs and learning photography skills. At FedEx, I was working from 7am-7pm with a 2-4 hour lunch break depending on the season. During the long lunch hours, I would go one of the bookstores (Borders/Barnes and Noble) when they existed. Grab a book on photography and a photo magazine or two. At first, it was more about learning my way around the camera and terminology. Then I got really interested in reading about all types of photographers stories and how to run a photography business. PDN Magazine was an excellent resource. At nights after my shift, I would go find musicians to photograph. I was going to many local small venues and bars. Most of the time I paid to get in and would ask the musicians if I could shoot their set. After I would go home, do a quick edit and add metadata. Sleep for 2-4hours and do it all over again. I began reaching out to a lot of musicians and bands. I had a goal to try and photograph a performance every single night. I was getting close real close.
Three main moments happened that pushed me to go all out on photography. First was photographing Raphael Saadiq, which I mentioned in R2TG:39. Two years later my close friend who knew me better than anyone, passed away. He was the one person that brought me out from being shy and quiet my whole life before meeting him. A few months later, after a night off and probably the longest sleep I had in years, I woke up went into the kitchen a passed out. Soon as I hit the floor I jumped right up and tried stopping my chin from bleeding. For the first time in four years, I had to call out of FedEx. In the emergency room for hours and waiting to get stitches. My flip phone was blowing up with calls and messages. FedEx managers were still trying to get me to come in for the day. The following day I went to work and gave them a month notice that I was leaving.
Since leaving a reliable job I've worked for several music venues, record labels, instrument companies, tv programs, contributed to over 100 magazines and started my Musician Portrait Project. As with any business story and life, there has been highs and lows. I find it inspiring that every day is not guaranteed. So, I continue to hustle, learn the music industry and work on my craft. I have goals that get me out of bed and ready to begin the day. Right now my main goal is getting to photograph the 2019 Grammy Awards. Read my original Road to the GRAMMYs concept post