My Story (Part 2) Rolling Stone Magazine

  When starting out most music photographers have a dream which turns into a goal of getting published in Rolling Stone Magazine. I got contact information from inside the printed magazine plus searched online.  I would call and mostly email twice a month for several years.  RS in print was still pretty major and bigger than online back then.  I never received a response via email.  When I called they would give me an email vague email address I already had.  I still kept following up and sending images.  One day I had a shoot in NYC and went to the office.  The front desk, the same thing, they gave me the same email address and sent me on my way.

  This part of my story takes place a couple years after My Story (Part 1).  

  Every year there is a PDN Photo Expo at the Javits Center in New York City.  A photographer friend (Howard Gaines Photography) and I planned on staying up in the area for all three days.  Online I saw that they have these portfolio reviews that you pay a lot of money and select the people you want to meet.  I noticed Rolling Stone Magazine editor would be there!  I signed up right away and selected a few others. 

  Only a few days away from heading up to PhotoPlus Expo and the most important to meet with an RS editor.  BANG!  A major accident happens.  This is a long story I do not care to discuss but I was it in the back of the head by a stack of metal poles.  Knocked me out and forward.  I land on my forehead and end up going to the hospital.   The EMT's strap me down for safety in case of neck injuries and tape up my bleeding head.    At the hospital, I get scanned and they glued my head together.  My mother is there to take me home and watch over me for the next few hours.  I guess whenever you get a concussion you should not go to sleep, just in case.  I was told to rest up for a week and see a doctor the following week before doing any major activity.  

  I am not missing this portfolio review!  The following night my father and I end up going to a Flyers game.  Great way to test out my foggy head plus it's mostly sitting around, right?  What I remember most is any quick head movements or walking a long distance and it would seem like my vision and the world would drag a little behind.  I'm fine though and I'm not missing this portfolio review!  Plus once paid for and there are no money returns.  They make that pretty clear when you sign up. If you miss your time slot you're still out of luck.  

  Next day, Howard and I head on up to our Hotel.  The first day of EXPO and I break off every now and then for scheduled portfolio reviews.  A few of them loved my work but say that are not really needing a music photographer.  One guy ripped into my work and business.  Which is okay I want to hear what is wrong and things I can improve on.  

  Let's get to the most important day.  The morning of Rolling Stone magazine meeting.  I can still feel my head is not right and no quick movements.  I am not missing this portfolio review!  We eat breakfast in the hotel lobby and laugh at a guy that looks exactly like Steve Jobs who passed away three weeks before.  The glasses, jeans, and black turtle-neck.  Now to get the Javits Center we had to take a train and we walked to the Javits Center.  Howard and I get to the train station and they are delayed.  I'm missing this portfolio review.  Howard is keeping me calm and trying to think of a plan.  There was a point when getting on the train that we didn't think it was possible to make it.  But, Howard did suggest a cab may give us a chance.  Less than ten minutes away from my time slot we get a cab and he turns into backed up traffic.  What? I missing this portfolio review.  I think we said we would double his fee if he can get us to the venue in less than 5 minutes.  He quickly turns out of traffic takes all these back roads and we make it.  Less than two minutes I jump out of the cab and run with my bag to the opposite end of the Javits and its downstairs.  I'm back to believing I'm not missing this portfolio review!  

  I made it! Feeling all sweaty my name gets called.  It's a room filled with long tables and a lot photographer portfolio reviews taking place.  You only get something like 10 minutes.  The biggest review of my career, I'm sweaty, slightly out of breath and feeling a bit dizzy.  Hand over my portfolio. I feel the sweat on my head.  He is just scanning through my work and as he is looking down he asks "Have you ever tried submitting to us before?"  In my mind, I am saying ARE YOU KIDDING ME? But what came out was "What? Yes, I write the magazine all time."  We talk for a couple minutes, takes my business card then writes down his email on a piece of paper.  He tells me this is my email and I am the main editor of Rolling Stone Magazine.  There were a couple others from the magazine at the event but I got the main one!  

  I was so excited and feeling on top of the world.  Before I go meet with Howard.  I walk out of the review and head on into the bathroom to collect myself and wash up.  I look in the mirror and oh my that was not sweat I felt dripping down my forehead.  It was blood.  The glue from my head was peeling off and my head was slowing forming a line of blood.  How in the world did this editor keep a straight face and not tell me?  He had to of seen this line of blood from the top of my head down to my eyebrow.  

  A couple days later I write the editor of the #1 magazine I want to contribute too.  For months I continue to write him with no response. End of October to the beginning of February I never get a return email.

  I'm photographing The Darkness for the Trocadero Theatre.  This performance was a couple days after the Super Bowl.  Lead singer, Justin Hawkins was in a pink outfit on a commercial and the show ends up selling out.  I get to the venue and the manager at the time tells me "towards the end of the show Justin will be on his security guards shoulders, playing the guitar through the crowd.  So it is sold out and I think that the best spot to get the action is from the balcony. Everything is going as planned then Justin Hawkins climbs up to the opposite corner of the stage on the balcony.  He puts his arms out what seemed for minutes.  I kept saying under my breath over and over, come on, jump!  He does and I get the shot!  

  That evening I send the photo set to the Trocadero and of course I send an email with just that photograph to the Rolling Stone Editor.  The following day and still excited over my photograph I see a lot of online talk about this "Darkness balcony jump photograph."  I check my email later on that day and I get a response for RS, "Great shot."  That was it, but there were RS editors all over the world included in the email.  I didn't know there were so many different versions.  It went to all these printed versions except for the UK.  Funny thing is the band is from the UK but they did not purchase it for usage.  It was used for the online versions of Rolling Stone and even made the Hottest live photos of 2012.  

  I end up connecting with another editor from the New York office.  I contributed to the magazine for most of the year through her.  Sometimes I would go shoot band or have already photographed them in the past and she would purchase them for online and print.  Online was getting bigger and magazines were having trouble.  Rolling Stone Magazine eventually did a large layoff and she must have been one of them.  My messages were not getting returned.  I have since contributed to Rolling Stone Magazine.  So, this ended up being a lesson learned as to not ever take anything for granted.  Layoffs began happening with many of the magazines I contributed to over the next couple of years.  

  "The balcony jump shot" was big for me for awhile.  It was getting me work and winning competitions.  The main photo used for my portfolio and in gallery showings.  I started getting worried that this was my "One hit".  This cannot be it for me, I need new goals and new projects.  I stopped showing this photograph in my portfolio reviews.  I need to get better and I can do better than this photograph.

  My story will be continued...


  Read my original Road to the GRAMMYs concept post



This photograph was taken about a week and a half after my forehead injury in 2011.