On a whim, I reached out to the Skull and Roses team via email, expecting to get denied for a media pass as I had never shot a concert (or any event for that matter). I was pleasantly surprised to hear back from Dennis McNally of all people who for some reason thought I was worthy of a photo pass.
I was both honored and excited to take my first stab at concert photography, especially at Skull and Roses. I felt like this opportunity warranted a lens with a little more reach so I decided to rent an f/4 70-200 from Panasonic. This wound up working great as the artists were at least 10-15 feet from the photo platform. My f/2.4 24-70 did great for wider shots of the stage and some crowd photos, but glad I took the 70-2oo with me.
Nonetheless, I was both nervous and eager to take a stab at this. I've loved photography as both a means for creativity as well as just to document travels and places we go, so merging those two things with live music really seemed like a perfect mesh for some things I spend a ton of time doing already.
I initially had a ton of imposter syndrome being on the same platform as people like Jay Blakesberg, Susana Miliman, and Bob Minkin, but for some reason, it relatively quickly went away. I like to think I was realizing my legitimacy, but it was probably the beer.
Big fan of Jerry's Middle Finger as well. They have probably been my favorite band under the Grateful Dead umbrella I've seen since moving to California.
I was especially looking forward to shooting Dark Star Orchestra. I've got a soft spot for them, I think they not only do a phenomenal job at carrying the torch
Being so close to Phil Saturday night was truly surreal and at this point I was feeling pretty nervous. The crowd was as big as it would get the entire weekend, thousands were no doubt tuning in via the streams across the globe, and here am I, a literal concert photography rookie with around 10-15 other people blessed with the opportunity to shoot one of the most culturally influential musicians in the last 60 years.
All things considered, I think I killed it. I didn't get all the angles I would have liked, but photography seniority took over quickly on the platform near the stage and I got out of there around 15 minutes after Phil started.
I wound up taking it mostly easy and chilling with new friends on Sunday but made sure to get back to the photo pit for Phil's final set.
Looking forward to hopefully shooting Skull and Roses again next year and more concerts this year as well – going to do my best to just reach out to local artists in the Bay Area without overextending myself too much. Keep an eye out for more concert photos and cross your fingers for me 🤞 – most of the rest of my photos from Skull and Roses 2023 can be found here.