By Jake Doolittle
There’s nothing like walking into a packed venue, hearing the chatter before the artist comes on, and strolling up to the stage. It’s not work. Sure, this is to benefit my career, but it’s different. Imagine going to a concert for free, being face to face with the artist, and creating art for them. There’s no better feeling.
The first concert that I ever took photos of was this awful music festival two hours north of Portland. It was so exciting to take photos of music and to get my name out there, but after arriving, my mother and I finally realized that it was a cannabis festival. The skunk smell filled the air and the dreadlocks were coming at me from every angle. There’s nothing wrong with weed at all, but just the smell of it gives me a pounding headache. Oh, I was also fifteen so I’m surprised they even let me in. After shooting for the whole day, through the contact high and the sweltering summer heat, I went home to edit, and sent the photos to the management within twenty-four hours. Working at live performances is such a rush that you just want to see the photos you took and send them out immediately.
From there, I used my photos from the festival to get me other opportunities. I reached out to the biggest artists in the world just hoping that they’d give me a chance. I kept reminding myself that if I send one thousand emails a month, then at least one or two people will take a chance on me. Sure enough, they did!
From Modest Mouse to Maggie Rogers, Billie Eilish to Third Eye Blind…three years later, my portfolio is filled to the brim! Over these years, I’ve fallen in love with the feeling of shooting from the pit. The rush of only being able to shoot the first three songs and having 10 minutes to make the best photos possible is daunting, but I love it. Maintaining contact with hundreds of people a week is a lot of work, but I love it. Making this a career is risky, but I love it.
Concert photography has changed my life for the better and I can’t wait to do it again.