Summerfest Finale: Elvis and ELVIS (Costello)




Let me reiterate that I consider myself a photographer but not a concert photographer. I know I don’t have the proper equipment and experience, and that fact was never quite so clear as when I managed to finagle my way into the photo pit for Elvis Costello and was waiting around with three guys who obviously ARE concert shooters. Two massive cameras around their necks, top of the line stuff, long lens. Um, ear plugs. Yeah, didn’t think of them, didn’t care. Too excited. I saw them all make their surreptitious glances at my Olympus Evolt E620. It IS a decent camera for my purposes, but Olympus’ efforts to lighten both body and lens make it look even less serious than my previous digital SLR which was one model step down and three years back. I wondered if there was some giggling about it after the show. It surely raised at least an eyebrow.

I had warmed up shooting The English Beat. Great show, by the way, and I was the only photographer there. (Oh well, to each his own.) It’s their 30 year anniversary (whoa) and they also did General Public material, “Tenderness” which is going on to the MP3 player this week. I have that on vinyl for cryin’ out loud.

Luck was with me for Elvis Costello and the stage manager let me in with the rest of the photographers without a specific pass. Two songs. No flash. It’s really intense. Lights changing, Costello putting on a show for the photos (seemed to me – lots more jumping around and dramatic guitar poses during those first two numbers), 7 or 8 photo guys dodging and weaving around each other. My goal was nothing more than to get ONE decent photo. The other guys surely were pulling in great shots with this or that in the background, other members of the band (The Imposters, this tour). Whatever. I parked it in a couple of good places, braced myself on the edge of the stage and shot like hell. Over 440 photos in the space of two songs and I lost time switching cards!

I can’t even tell you what the first song was, but “Pump it Up” was the second and really appropriate for the adrenaline rush. I can see the attraction of this type of photo work. Total intensity and a sort of “beat the clock” scenario. I walked back out into the masses jittery and dizzy and pretty damn sure I got at least one good shot. Mission accomplished.

I’m pretty sure this was the moment when he looked at me and thought, “Wtf? Does that guy have some kind of bullshit point-and-shoot?”

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