What is a touring photographer?: an ethnographic vignette

Photo from Waterparks on Twitter by Jawn Rocha

Everyone has a favorite band/artists/musician most likely, right? Whoever it is, they likely Tour a lot, depending on their popularity and many other things. If your favorite band is Fall Out Boy, then they are very successful and have been on many tours worldwide. So how can they make sure that their entire fan base stays connected to them at all times? While not everyone can attend a show, they can still be a part of it thanks to their Photographer and Social Media. Social Media allows artists to stay connected to their worldwide fan base. When fans follow an artists’ Snapchat, Instagram, and/or Twitter it allows them to keep up with them.

Fans are able to feel like they are part of the tour through photos and videos posted to the bands social media. It feels like I was there the entire time when I see the tour updates such as tweets, photos and videos. Some photographers that I look up to are Elliot Ingham (State Champs), Thomas Falcon (All Time Low), and Jawn Rocha (Waterparks).

Waterparks is a band from Houston, Texas and are also one of my favorite bands that I am also pretty close to. They signed to Equal Vision Records in 2015 and their managers are the Madden brothers from Good Charlotte. Jawn has been a friend for years, since before the band started in 2011. They have only been touring for a year and are on their first co-headlining tour with Too Close to Touch. Jawn’s job is to document this with both photo and video.

From Waterparks on Twitter by Jawn Rocha

Waterparks and Too Close to Touch post Jawn’s photos to their social media accounts. Jawn recieves credit for his work with photo tags. Jawn also posts his work to his own Instagram and Twitter so that whenever someone visits his profile his work is showcased. This highlights the idea in another student’s piece that Instagram can serve more than one purpose. In Jawn’s case, his instagram can serve as his portfolio although it is less formal. Some photographers have strictly photo instagrams. He is seen at every show on stage, side stage, in the crowd, just about everywhere with his camera capturing moment after moment. But there’s more to being a photographer than just taking a picture or a video. Editing is very important and is the main example of screen work and creativity.

Photo I took of Light Up The Sky on the Retrograde Tour in 2016 at the Baltimore Soundstage (a smaller vennue)
Awsten Knight by Me at the PlayStation Theatre in NYC on the Sleeping With Sirens Tour. (Bigger Tour, more production).

With live photos, editing is the most important. Every venue has different lighting situations. Smaller venues have worse lighting, while bigger venues tend to have better lighting. Bigger tours also have the budget for more production and better lighting. The solution is Adobe Lightroom where a photo taken in a venue with blue lights can transform to look more natural but the tones of the photo are a creative choice of the photographer. There are many photographers that have their own unique style of coloring, such as Elliot. I can tell if he took a photo because of his style.

From Waterparks on Twitter by Jawn Rocha

Even regular portraits are edited because there are different lighting situations. Changing the tones of a photograph allows the photographer to use their creativity. Being a photographer is more than just simply taking a photo. Domic Boyer says in the Life informatic, “There is no way to begin talking about the craft of slotting without talking about the screens. They are the centering point of a slotter’s work, the alpha and omega as the Germans would say”. Just as the screen is the center of a slotter’s craft, it is the center of a photographer’s craft. Jawn is staring at a screen for almost his entire day: the screen on his camera, laptop, or phone. The reasons may vary between editing, emailing, posting on social media, etc.