Oh, she writes too?
October 24, 2019
I’m not sure if there is anything cooler than 20 something lasers, a DJ who plays instruments to his mixes, a stage filled with amazing vocalists and musicians, and watching it all go down at the Fillmore in New Orleans.
I remember when I first heard some of GRiZ’s music, I thought to myself this guy is on something that we should all be on. Michigan native Grant Richard Kwiecinski, is a wizard. A musical wizard and a really fucking cool human being (to me, is way cooler). His music is all over the place, we get to hear a little trap, we get the reggae flair, his amazing signature jazz talent with his sax in hand, edm of course, his shit hits HARD A F, we get the house, and funk. Watching the crowd dance to GRiZ at his Fillmore New Orleans show, is an ever amazing sight. The vibe changes within seconds and fans effortlessly change their movement with every boom of bass and every hit of the tempo.
After I photograph a show, I don’t use photoshop when I am editing. Maybe I’m a unicorn? Maybe, I just like to keep things how I see them? I’m not sure, I have always done MY photography that way. I may throw some contrast on there for a bolder look, but I try extremely hard to capture images using only natural light. Well, light from the stage if we’re indoors obviously. GRiZ was like the Fantasia 10.0 of light shows, the graphics were beyond incredible, the time planning the lighting for his ‘Ride Waves’ tour must have extensive and so much fun to design. Who doesn’t want to work with lasers!?
I cant say one bad thing about this tour stop. I had so much fun just being there as media, the crowd was electric, of course the lighting made me delighted to be taking photos that night. GRiZ had everyone in that bitch dancing, smiling, and excited to see and hear what was coming next. The security guards were lit, even the guys in the sound board who from my experience are pretty stone faced, were bobbin their heads and tappin their feet haha. Sadly, GRiZ announced that this would be his LAST multi-show tour, so be sure to look out for his single announced show dates as they appear on his website.
Also, a really fucking cool side note? GRiZ who now lives in Boulder, created a strain of Kush (the strain is a sativa dominant, crossed between Tangerine Haze and Pakistan Chitral Kush) that is also winning awards like, “People’s Choice Flowers” from a Cannabis Cup. For all you ‘herbal’ enthusiasts, check it out HERE. This guy…many hats.
Next up? BANKS at the Fillmore New Orleans
October 1, 2019
My 21 year old EDM/EDC obsessed self would be so fucking stoked on the opportunity to shoot one of sickest and not to mention, ‘grimiest’ DJ’s in the game. RL GRIME! I photographed the heavy hitting DJ at the FREEWATER Block Party @ Mardi Gras World and yes, it was epic and also annoying. AF. Scroll down, for the deets…
First off, I was really hype about the line-up for the Block Party being that its two main headliners, ‘Da Baby’ is everywhere on the charts lately (I love his track with Megan Thee Stallion) and RL Grime being my favorite DJ (obssessed with his Halloween DJ set he puts out every year). I have been wanting to find a way "in” with FREEWATER for a while, being that their goal is to create a space where artists can thrive in a non consumer world, for the love of their craft. Being a photographer, I often feel like I have a hard time creating a client base here in New Orleans for many different reasons, but the main being that I am not from here. When I moved here from California last December, I promised myself that I would take myself and my art form more seriously and start submitting my portfolio for contributor work around the city, just to keep my portfolio updated and my eye movin.’
I brought an assistant this time, which was beyond helpful. My husband’s cousin, Kayla Alison, an incredibly intelligent, Loyola frosh, who has an amazing eye for photography. We joined our Nikon (me) and Canon (her) forces and headed to Mardi Gras world for what would be a night of a mind fuck, a test of my patience, followed by a great time. All thanks to the amazing Emily Diament and the best staff of Winter Circle Productions.
Let’s start off at the entrance. I must have waited about 30 min to get my media ticket, which turned out to not be much of a media ticket at all. I was supposed to receive a media and a photo pass, which is you aren’t aware of how photographing a concert works, you have to have the correct credentials in order to get into the “pit” to shoot the first 3 tracks of the artist. I got ZERO access, at first. I got negative interactions from all security guards because they weren’t knowledgeable prior to the show what protocol was, for much of anything. In fact, one of the guards actually called me a bitch because I just said I needed to speak with someone who could help me, that I was just doing my job, it was kind of comical that he had to react that way as a grown man guarding a plastic fence, in an area where there was nothing was “happening” or anyone to guard.
Then, I got an escort. Why I needed an escort was beyond me, but he was supposed to help me get access so I was happy. Then I quickly realized that my powers of persuasion would lead me to get more access that he could have got me. I ended up shooting from the VIP area and he wasn’t permitted, so we parted ways. I began to realize that my photos weren’t going to turn out the way I wanted them to because I was standing above a smoke machine and the stage had no lighting pointing down at the performers, yet pointing out to the crowd and up at the ceiling. So artistically, it wasn’t going to happen for me and I quickly got pissed. Shows are amazing to shoot as a photographers, we get up so close, closer than you ever would be able to as a fan, you get the chance to shoot artists in such a raw and detailed way, and it makes for incredible photos.
Now, if I would have known that I wouldn’t get the access that I was granted originally, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Simply because I requested only to be able to shoot an EDM show, it had been awhile since I had the chance to shoot dope effects and lasers, so I was intrigued. I also found myself worried about how the event was being managed, after headliner “Da Baby’s” security detail got extremely physical on a female block party goer, it was hard to watch as no one was able to get to the issue as it was in the middle of a sea of fans. The incident would later trend on social media, I saw it, and it was definitely worse than I saw in person. Da Baby shouldn’t have got into the crowd, that entire stunt was such a breach of security and honestly, was unnecessary considering the crowd wasn’t massive, it was easily regulated prior. His set was also poorly executed, being out of breath the majority of the time, and his DJ blaring the incredibly annoying, “Baby, that’s my baby,” motto over and over and over again. Felt like that of riding the Small World ride at Disneyland, ready to end it all because the repetition is blankly, stupid. Thankfully, his set ended and it was time to figure out how I was going to get good photos of Mr. Grime.
Now, I have to thank Emily Diament of Diament Public Relations, a million fucking times over. If it wasn’t for her, I would have left in a really pissed off mood. I was there to take photos! Not deal with access issues and rude hourly hired security guards, I just wanted to photograph and enjoy the show I know FREEWAATER worked tirelessly on for months. As a photographer you gotta do anything to get the shots, Emily recognized my frustration and also wanted to make sure that FREEWATER got a reviewed outcome, that media got access to cover the event. She was able to link me with Edward Guerra (another AMAZING human who helped me photograph what I need to capture), of Winter Circle Productions. I got all access, I got into the pit during RL Grime, I got above the stage, and I got amazing fucking photos.
RL Grime’s set? WAS SO FUCKING NASTY! The bass, the lights, the mixes, not to mention…THANK GOD HE DOESN’T USE A LAPTOP! Why? Because he is a real fucking DJ who is prepared and does the work. I caught myself dancing and bobbin’ while I was trying to hold my camera still, couldn’t help it. He was just too good. It really took a village to get me what I needed/wanted for this event. I wish I had more time to get outside, to take candids of block party goers, the skateboarders (which was such a dope move to have that area), the other stage acts (yes, they had a stage that had the dopest backdrop of the river and the bridges), and just be able to enjoy the Block Party a little more. However, shit happens, its life. I can’t thank Emily Diament and Edward Guerra enough for being so kind, understanding, and HELPFUL with my issue and doing everything possible to get these photos. Y’all are the bestest…
Next show up? GRIZ @ The Fillmore
Check out my published work here at Where Y’at Magazine
September 14, 2019
She really is 100% that bitch. Lizzo Stops in NOLA!
Man, I can’t say enough amazing things about Lizzo’s stop here in New Orleans at the Fillmore. I attended night two (both nights being sold out btw), of the ‘Lizzo: Cuz I love You Too Tour’ and to be honest, I was having a hard time even photographing the set because I kept shaking my ass! It was contagious, everyone that attended was having an amazing time, they were singing ALL the lyrics word for word, belting out the ballads, and invested in anything Queen Lizzo told her audience to do.
Her set list was perfect. We we hype at parts, longing at parts, in our feels at parts, and giving NO fucks at parts. Not only is Lizzo’s voice unmatched, her dance moves flawless, but her message was accepted and promoted there in that two hour concert. Let’s be honest for a minute, I have heard about Lizzo a few times here and there, I never really sought after her music before because I heard it on the radio all the time. I searched for her after her incredible VMA performance (watch here), her performance was amazing and after watching, I was a fan!
Her air of self love, radiates and resonates with the people that follow her on all of her social media platforms and definitely with all of her fans that pay good money to attend her well received and well reviewed tour! I have to be honest, I love her Instagram live feeds! She is always reflecting on her life, her career, thanking fans, giving us tidbits about her, shes hilarious. What makes her so amazing, is that she is relatable, she says what people are scared to, shes been through what we all have, and she isnt holding back.
Her show was beautiful, her make-up, not to mention her killer fucking outfits (and to die for boots, I love boots), um and honey…her hair was giving us all life with those hair flips shes known for. Take a look at my photos, I captured all dat. For anyone who is curious about Lizzo or possibly attending her one of the stops on her tour, DO! GO! I had the best time and I can’t wait for her next album to drop so she can come back to NOLA and show us all again how fucking dope she is.
Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket for this show, you will thank me after! For tickets and tour dates: CLICK HERE
Next show up? RL Grime presented by Free Water Studios at Mardi Gras World!
Check out my published work here at Offbeat Magazine
September 13, 2019
What is there to say about going to a Lil’ Wayne festival, in Louisiana, called ‘Lil’ Weezyana,’ that has a stacked lineup with heavy hitters, Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion? I was convinced that it was going to be E P I C and nothing short of amazing. Little did I know it would be a million fucking degrees outside, there would be a stampede, and possible shots fired…
I went to the fest with a friend of mine, bad ass creator of Nola Concerts (go check her blog out). Hopping in her car I was thinking to myself ‘…It is hotter than fuck out here, I have no idea how this is going to turn out, I’m not ready for inevitable death today…’ We got there, it was HOT, hot. No, not really hot, but absolutely brutal. Now, I’m not a nutritionist or a an expert on the human body, but what I do know is this. ALCOHOL & 104 DEGREE WEATHER = DO NOT MIX PEOPLE! Everyone was lit, and why shouldn’t they be? Its Lil’ Weezyana Fest, this isn’t Bible study! Now, lets add the factor that no one thinks to drink water when theyre drinking, especially at a concert or a fest because then guess what? YOU’LL HAVE TO PEE! Peeing requires, walking, waiting in long lines, and those disgusting Port-O-Potty’s that basically are baking and DISGUSTING in that heat. I’m sorry, I cant with a Port-O, I gag and just cannot. Needless to say, people were beyond dehydrated, people were dropping like flies; needing IV treatments, to have medics retrieve them from the GA Pit, because it was so concentrated with festival goers, that no one was getting air flow or able to move.
My favorite act by far was Megan Thee Stallion, although she was about 45 min late for her set which was a pain in the ass for everyone waiting in the scolding heat she pulled through HEAVY. Her set was so much fun, she had all the energy to keep our minds off the scorching heat. Her outfit was dope and not to mention she is fucking gorgeous. She noted all her well known hits and even some from back in the day mix-tapes. I will definitely go and see her again when she comes back to New Orleans.
Worst Act? I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily call it the worst because it barely was an act. Travis Scott, I have been waiting to see him for a long time. Last time I was supposed to see him was when Rihanna had him as an opener, but when it was time for him to get to San Jose, he had “issues” with his bus and didn’t show. So being a performer at Lil’ Weezyana, I was beyond excited to finally see him live and get to experience a bit of ‘Astroworld.’ Scott was so concerned with festival goers, that he spend a lot of his time trying to help paramedics identify where to go in the crowd to help people. In no way is that a bad thing if what happened next didn’t happen. THERE WAS A STAMPEDE, yes, a stampede (for more info click here). Apparently gun shots where fired, somewhere off on the side of the crowd which created a ripple effect of people panicking all over the place and caused mayhem. Travis Scott’s security detail allowed no one to be anywhere near the stage due to pyrotechnics but then also went into a bit of a frenzy tackling people and being a little too aggressive at the wrong people. About 10 min into Scott’s set, a man who security had kicked out of the media pit, jumped onto the side of the stage and decided to hang out with Scott which he was NOT having. Not only was dude arrested, but Travis was over it. He didn’t finish his set, and walked off. It was less and whelming. I was really disappointed people couldn’t keep their shit together and had to ruin it for everyone. I will definitely have to try again, hopefully for Travis’ own Astroworld Festival in Houston that is coming up in November.
As a photographer, I was really excited to do this festival. To have that many big names in one place is an amazing recipe for a portfolio update, not to mention a great way of having content for your socials, becoming familiar with the PR rep, the venue, the staff, the promoters, and all of the fellow photographers who are there for the same reasons you are. Its hard for me to say no to a show, I love music and I am photography obsessed, despite working 40-50 hours at my day job (yes, I need consistency in my income), I always find the will and way to get my name out there and shoot shows I believe will be great content and that I want to be a part of. I won’t photograph everything that comes up, because well…that’s too much for me to get a hold on and I am not a superhuman.
As far as Lil’ Weezyana Fest goes, when I got off my feet, got hydrated again (I definitely felt like I was going to faint a few times), and saw all the photos I took, I was more than happy that I went. I will say that there was a few times I strongly considered leaving and getting the fuck out of there because it was just too damn hot. Hopefully next year, it wont be as crazy. Hopefully the promoters, the event staff, and Wayne’s team can work out some of the issues that plagued this year’s event and have a successful 2020 fest. I would be more than down to go again. But honestly, let a bitch get a free water station and an option to buy a canteen, hello, merch sales opportunity for the event! And people wont be dropping like flies and missing out on their time and money. Just sayin’…
Next show up? LIZZO at the Fillmore!
Check out my published work here at WhereYat.com
September 9, 2019
Listening to Daniel Caesar, is like floating in a hyperbolic chamber; you feel weightless, isolated, and then all of a sudden - like you need to grab a fucking journal to work out whatever emotions come up for you while listening to his essential tracks.
There is something to be said about the poetry in music. That it draws us in, relaxes our minds, captivates our thoughts. We begin to drift off wondering who the artist is talking about, what they have experienced to write such lyrics. I think I have about 5-8 tracks of Daniel Caesars’ on various playlists that emphasize how ever I was feeling that day. I replay them often, and its easy to do so. HIS FUCKING VOICE IS LIKE A DRUG!
The Case Study 01: TOUR, was nothing less than mesmerizing. His voice is better in person than on his album, the range, the guitar playing, the crowd serenading along? It was so hard to photograph his set due to the fact that I couldn’t stop staring at how beautiful the night was. The fans were so cool, they knew all the lyrics, they sang EVERYTHING, danced with their dates, and everyone was just in a meditative state of mind watching Caesar.
I loved that there was no cheesy graphics, Caesar chose to be 100% genuine on this tour with his intention, it was so subtle and relaxing as a fan and as a photographer. He made my job so easy, subtly swaying from song to song and remembering that I needed to be pointing my Nikon on him instead of singing along and vibing out. No crazy tracks to fall back on, live band was so on point and blended so beautifully. I can’t say enough positive things about this tour.
Next show up? Lil’ Weezyana Fest at UNO Arena
Check out my published work here at offBEAT Magazine
August 30, 2019
Standing back stage surrounded by marijuana smoke, the plethora of groupies, bottles of Tito’s Vodka & Patron, Chris Brown, Torey Lanez, and Ty Dolla $ign, I got a taste of how it feels to be “older” than I was when I first started listening to Chris Brown over a decade ago.
His tour stopped in New Orleans and I had the pleasure of photographing it. It was beautiful. Being a photographer and a music lover, I am such a fan of imagery and bright lights when it comes to a concert, creating frames by having a projection screen, dancers, and not to mention fucking awesome dance moves coming from a headliner.
The ‘Indigo Tour’ was like a hit of Acid while diving into a decade of radio hit nostalgia. The setlist had allllll the classics, the club bangers, the freaky shit, and the love songs, the tour held everything it could have for a loyal Brown fan. And photographing it all? I was so excited. I was a little annoyed with Mr. $igns’ (lol) set, due to the fact that there was no imagery. A black screen behind him and this purple light that beamed down on him, did him absolutely no justice from the lens which was so disappointing. Not to mention, I love his songs! I was looking forward to having a few great photos from his set. Torey Lanez? Ugh, didn’t allow media. A rumor that he doesn’t like to be photographed due to his “height,’ circulated, and I can understand. The camera from the sound board is a long distance and it will do NO good for someone who is a little on the shorter side. I love his music as well, so that was a little disappointing, especially because each artist held a 3 song minimum for media outlets.
Working at the Smoothie King Center was surreal, so many people filled the arena that it was a little daunting walking in the sound board area. Everyone staring at me with my Nikon, probably wondering who the fuck I was. Once the show started, that feeling went away and I went into my zen zone, where the only thing that mattered was me, framing that beautiful stage. That stage made my job so much easier, I can’t thank the lighting enough for how my photographs turned it, I was mesmerized by the vivid lighting, if only all concerts were that easy.
Next show up? Daniel Caesar at the Fillmore
Check out my published work at WhereYat.com