Preview: Lollapalooza 2013 @ Grant Park

 (Bryan J. Sutter)

Earlier this month I embarked on a trip to Chicago to photograph my first massive music festival. It was insane and incredibly rewarding. I’ve been shooting shows since 2009 and I thought I had seen it all, but Lollapalooza was a whole new beast in so many ways. It won’t be until after the next issue of Eleven Magazine that I get to share more photos, but I wanted to at least convey some of the experience while it’s still fresh in my mind.



First off, this is probably going to be one of the last real first-person pronoun heavy posts on IShotGuyDebord. I haven’t updated this site for almost 2 months for a number of reasons, mostly because I was getting ready for Lollapalooza and the first public exhibition of my photography, and that I’ve been busy messing with a new personal blog, United By Haircuts. If you do the Tumblr thing (and even if you don’t) and are interested in the sort of photography and thoughts that don’t really fit the format of the website you are currently reading, I’d suggest following. I’ve got a lot of cool stuff that I’ll be posting in my free time.

And, of course, I am sitting here at me desk wondering how I can condense so much into a series of engaging but easily digestible paragraphs complimented by a handful of photos. It’s tough. If you’re a music photographer, shooting Lollapalooza for the first time is a definite mark that you’re doing something right. You get to shoot some of the most celebrated musicians in the world for 3 straight days. You also get to meet other media people, some of which are very inviting to new face. Even the seasoned photogs shooting for wires or big publications can get giddy from the experience. You can also drink all of the coconut water and Red Bull you desire which will no doubt ensure you have an almost euphoric crash at 9pm while shooting Cat Power, when you couldn’t care less that you lost the lens cap for your telephoto zoom when you hiked from one end of Grant Park to the other so you could shoot the first two songs of Baroness and make it in time to shoot Teagan & Sara. Your shoes will be the personal hell for your feet. Aesthetically pleasing young people will hound you to take their photo, and for your business card, while you wait in the photo pit for Major Lazer’s set to start. It feels laborious after a while, but they’ll give you some of your best crowd shots. You brought cards, right?

On the last day you will be completely exhausted and your 2-day CTA pass will expire 10 minutes before you try to hop on the blue line back to your friend’s apartment in Logan Square. The nearby CTA employee who approaches you in your confused state will laugh about it like she just saw a dog get hit by a train and explode into a plume of confetti and airport bottles of Kettle One.



You’ll be stunned during Charles Bradley performance and wish you could stay for the whole thing. You’ll catch someone from the festival’s promotion company crying during Postal Service because it’s fucking Postal Service. You’ll be standing in the media area for 2 hours, waiting for two quick one-on-one photo shoots with musicians that will never occur, and you’ll find out about the freak death of a beloved musician back home. When you walk out of the media tent, disjointed and conflicted, an ineffably beautiful Asian girl will dig her front foot into the ground on a bended leg and yell “HOOSIER!” at you as you walk by. You’ll try to rationalize what all just happened as you quietly walk among thousands of people to your next destination.

Don’t know what denim panties are? You will.



If you’re from St. Louis, other media people will ask if you know Todd Owyoung. They will closely observe every non-verbal aspect of your response like they were trying to discover whatever childhood trauma you still carry on your shoulders. People have opinions on Todd Owyoung, you try to play your own evenly. There will be a few people in the pit who maybe shouldn’t be there, but other photographers will be patient and helpful. You’re all there to do good work, and in the pit everyone needs to be given their fair chance to succeed. Some of you will feed off of each others’ work. You’ll take shots that blow their mind, they’ll take photos that blow your own.

You’ll use your telephoto zoom most of the time. It’s the only time you’ve ever really used a telephoto zoom. You’ve spent most of your time as a photographer with a 50mm and 28mm prime. Zooms almost feel like cheating. No wonder people are always using them. You wish you would’ve used your Lensbaby Edge 80 more often.



You can’t wait for next year.

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