Friday, April 28, 2017

Ramblings on photography, learning, laughing and friendships.

Well I sit in my hotel room in Texas after an amazing and sleepless week at Texas School Of Professional Photography. All is quiet as i strolled the halls compared to this morning where it was filled with photographers from all around the world. Its an extremely weird sad feeling.

In the last few months I have gone on the road with a band and sat backstage at legendary venues. Shot amazing photos in crazy cool venues. Listened to amazing music and laughed with friends.

I took a road trip and explored the back roads of America. Attended South by South West. Saw historic places and sat on the beach a bit.  Before the trip I was scared and filled with anxiety of what was going to happen next. I took the time on the trip to practice calming myself and going with the flow.  I worked on not getting worked up over things I could not control.  I grew a beard ...I am still working on not getting worked up and on the beard.

I came to the conclusion that we only get one shot at this thing and we better experience it all.  Do our best to be good and most of all have some adventures.  I was inspired before the trip by seeing Jason Lees photos he had been doing around Texas to get off the four lane highway and see side roads and shoot some photos and take a look around (more on that in a bit).  And I did just that. Explored.  Shot photos. Got lost. It was great. 

After all the craziness that has been the last few months of my life I landed here in Texas for Texas School.  This came about from the recommendation from John Hartman, My old neighbor growing up, that i come here and learn from Russ Harrington.  Russ is a music photographer who has shot some amazing artists you all probably know.  Look him up seriously. I was scared and excited when I got here. I don't do lighting with my photos. I don't know the first thing about setting up lights to shoot someone.  I figure I am going to be in a class of people who know WAY more then me learning from a guy who kicks ass at what he does. I figured I would be found out to be the fraud I sometimes feel I am with my art.  But I was here to learn. And learn I did. 

Not only did I learn about lighting etc. I met some amazing people. Kind caring super talented people from all over.  People who share a passion I do for capturing images.  We may not shoot the same things but that passion is there.  And now a friendship is there as well.  I could tell you all about things we learned but that would take to long.  Just take Russ's class and find out for yourself. :) We learned and we laughed and I think we had a few drinks. Russ was kind and so enthusiastic about what he does.  It showed huge in class and it was inspiring.  I hope to take what i learned in his class and use it for shooting bands and things from here on out. Most of all make it weird. Use what you have to create and make some lemonade.  

To cap the week off I went with a classmate and friend today to Jason Lees photography office.   It's not open to the public. I was lucky. Extremely lucky and very thankful to my new friend who helps Jason out with photography things for taking me to meet Jason. We got to look at prints for his new photography show and his new book out soon.  We got to look at old slides of Beck performing that he shot a few years back.  We got to chat a bit about finding cool stuff on side roads of America.  There was a passion in him for what he does that was upfront and beautiful. Follow him on instagram and go buy his book when it comes out. Sure he is a pretty famous actor but to me he was a guy that loved capturing great stuff.  At the end of the visit I asked if he had a print to buy. He gifted me a test print of his.  Signed it on back. Pretty damn cool. Went to Deep Ellum as well and wandered a bit. Had a great dinner.  If you read this, thanks Steve. Meant a lot. 

Photography does not have to be perfect. It does not have to follow some formula put together.  Just make it look weird and cool. Experiment. Try. Fail. Try again and create new things. Don't follow the same old trail. Get off the beaten path.  

I will forever be grateful for the friends I have made this week. I hope to see them again. shoot photos with them again. Laugh and have a few drinks. I hope to take some road trips around and get lost and explore.  I hope to keep learning and make myself better.  I thank John Hartman for suggesting I be here. I thank Russ for his patience and sharing his talent. I thank my Mom and my Aunt because without them I would not even have come here. I thank my new friends and fellow photographers for being awesome. I guess I don't hope for those things. I will make them happen. For the first time in the last few months I am not terrified of the future. I am excited. 

I fly out back to Wisconsin tomorrow. Land in Milwaukee and then drive to Chicago where I will then proceed to drive with friends to New Orleans for a wedding.  The road goes on forever and the party never ends.  Make it weird my friends. 

 Best picture i had of our class class photo ever.
 My print from Jason Lee

Monday, April 17, 2017

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades at Granite Peak

This last weekend got to meet back up with the boys from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. It was a Central Wisconsin hometown throw down.  The band formed in Stevens point so when they come back to Central Wisconsin its always one hell of a show.  The pre show rainbow should have been a indicator of what kinda night it would be.  This one did not disappoint. Two sets wrapping up a little after midnight. Some of the gang from Dig Deep came and played the encore which ended with a group sing a long. Its moments like that that make live shows so great.  Frogleg kicked off the show and tore it up big time.

 The great part about doing Horseshoes shows is not only are they are great group of guys to hang with but i get a lot of access. So you get some great images on and off stage sometimes.  I have always said I'm a candid guy. Like to slip those shots when no one is looking.   Be a fly on the wall and stay out of the way.  Don't interrupt the show in anyway or the flow of the artists.  I will always be thankful for the trust these guys put in me.

Here are some of the photos from the night.

Pre show rainbow. 

I love the look on Adams face in this one while Maxaphone rips a solo. 

"I brought flowers for the stage instead of whiskey..."

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Route 66

I firmly believe that one will never get a good understanding of what America is about unless you get off the highway. You see the beauty that makes this country great as well as the ugly and in reality its all beautiful in its own way.  Highways you fly by everything.  You see the same chain restaurants and gas stations.  Its all the same sugar coated, waxed over, gentrified stuff mile after mile.

2 lanes is where you will find the heart of America.  With every mom and pop diner and roadside oddity you experience what makes this country great.  There is no other road better to do that then Route 66.

Recently I had the opportunity to travel some of it from Illinois to Oklahoma.  While this is only a small part of it and I did not see it all it still is Americas main street.  I am a huge fan of roadside attractions.  While i am capable of pedal to the metal traveling to get you from point A to point B... I love the side roads.

From the Blue Whale of Catoosa to the apocalyptic landscape of Picher Oklahoma its all things we should experience.  There is a whole wide world out there to see and its goddamn amazing.  There is so much right in our own backyard from a car window to see.  I highly encourage you to get in your car and get out there.  He is a few photos from that trip. I am sure I will do other posts with more pics but here is a start.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dead Horses at legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis

This past weekend I got to travel with the band Dead Horses to shoot their set before Elephant revival at the legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis.

I have seen shows at First Ave before but never got to shoot a show there.  A little background on the venue. It opened in 1937 as a Greyhound bus station. The current floor in the Main room is the same floor from the bus station.  It first opened as a music venue in 1970 and Joe Cocker was the first to play.  It became a Disco for awhile and then in 1981 it became First Avenue.

It may be best known for Prince however.  He filmed much of Purple Rain there and the album version of the song was recorded live there in 1983.  You can search the internet for video of that night.  It is an amazing video as no one in the audience knows the song and they are all just listening. Prince is sweating and ripping it up. They hired a audio truck to record the performance and then edited it and put it on the album.

Everyone has played First Ave. Just read all the names on the stars outside.  From Prince to the Violent Femmes, U2, Husker Du, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and the list goes on.

Needless to say i was stoked to shoot a show in such a legendary place.  Had a good conversation with FOH man Myles about him being FOH for the Nirvana Nevermind tour.  Not bad at all.

 There is still a Parking spot reserved for Prince even though he has passed away.

The backstage wall is lined with past set lists of everyone from local boy Mason Jennings to Motorhead.

It was a great show.  Charlie Rose from Elephant Revival joined Dead Horses for a few tunes.  And Dead Horses jumped up for the final encore with Elephant Revival. Lets not forget that Charlie Parr was also on the bill...fantastic! It was an all around good jam.  Beers were drank and dancing was done by the audience for sure.  

There was even a sidewalk jam for 2 songs between sets!  While frowned upon by management the smiles on the faces of the fans was pretty great.

Now onto the photos. 


As always big thank you to Dead Horses for taking me along.  Also big thanks to the crew from Elephant Revival for being awesome as well as the fantastic crew at First Ave. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

On tour with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Recently I had the great privilege to travel on 5 tour stops with the great bluegrass band Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.  We traveled from Sacramento to Las Vegas opening up dates for The Infamous String Dusters.  It was a great insight into being on the road with a band...which i fell in love with. I have always looked at tour productions when I went to a concert and wanted to run away with the circus.  Sometimes i feel more at home traveling then I do at home.  Anywho the band played 5 Venues.

Harlows in Sacramento
The Fillmore in San Francisco
Troubadour in Hollywood
Belly Up in Solana Beach
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas.

Being able to shoot photos and hang out at legendary venues like The Fillmore and the Troubadour was amazing.  There are places you walk into and you can FEEL the history. Both of those venues were like that. You could feel the music that has been played in those rooms.  Big thanks to the gang from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades for inviting me along!

Go to to find a tour date for these guys near you! Its a heck of a good time.

Here are some photos!

you can go to to see more photos from the tour.