My rock photography journey now spans over four decades. The high point of shooting concerts have always been being allowed to shoot the Rock Band’s Bowing shot!
There’s nothing like being allowed the opportunity of being on stage, just behind the backs of rock bands as they are assembling to bow to their appreciating audience towards the end of a band’s fantastic concert performance.
To me, this is the highest privileged position – shooting from the drum riser, at the centre of the stage. The best view ever.
For a brief moment I get to feel the roar of the crowd when they clap and shout in appreciation. The band feel and hear the energy from their audiences. The louder the claps and shouts, the higher the chances of getting band Encores. Haha.
Before this can happen, one has to get permission to be on stage either from the acts or their tour manager. They will let you shoot if someone within the entourage has spoken out for you or if they have seen your photo works or they trust you can deliver the goods. This chance is usually granted only to the band’s official photographer. If there’s no touring photographer then its your lucky day.
The planets were in alignment when I was allowed to shoot the bowing shot of the Beach Boys. I was literally three feet from their backs. Lo and behold, the shot I took made the cover of their 50th Anniversary Live double CD (below image)!
Below is the actual panoramic shot I took from which the album cover was taken from.
To take Bowing shots, the tour manager will tell you which song in which the Bow will take place. You need to be on stage behind the drummer by the previous song. That’s when my heart beats are on overdrive.
I only have a few seconds to take The Money Shot. I must never over-stay my 10 seconds welcome on stage.
The audience paid good money to see and hear their Heroes, not you.
I also was able to take this shot with only the five original members of the Beach Boys exclusively on the stage. Lucky me. This image was also featured in the band’s live double CD album artwork.
Bare Stage – “The Calm Before The Storm”.
I always try to go earlier to watch the band’s soundcheck. One, of course, needs top clearance to enjoy this privilege.
It’s a great opportunity to get rock and roll shots, provided one has learnt the fine art of being “invisible”.
In the above bare stage, you can see the staff cleaning the concert hall. The beautiful stage is my subject for this shot. I refer to this as the calm before the storm.
Def Leppard. A nice glance from guitarist Phil Collen (above).
Gipsy Kings (above)
I also savour being on stage and shooting the Backs of my favourite rock subjects, interacting with their fans. I see what the rock stars see.
For this privilege of being on stage, you also need the prior approval from the tour manager. You need to use discretion not to overstay your welcome on stage.
The Legends of the New York Punk Scene, Lincoln Center, New York City (above)
Left to Right – Tommy Ramone (Ramones), Chris Stein (Blondie), Mickey Leigh (brother of Joey Ramone), Legs McNeil, Hilly Kristal (CBGB founder) and Daryl Jenifer (Bad Brains).
Blondie, Brooklyn Museum. (A) Soundcheck – no crowd. (above) / (B) Show Time – full crowd capacity (below).
I thank Blondie so much for always giving me carte blanche for going anywhere I wish to shoot.
Adam Clayton, Bono and The Edge, U2 (above)
Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs (above)
Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy (above)
Rod Stewart (above). His million-dollar hairdo is iconic.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, Blondie, during the studio recording of Panic Of Girls album in Woodstock. (above)
Brian Wilson, Beach Boys (above). I would, from time to time, would wander to behind Brian and admire the legendary genius at work.
The Backs of the Backstreet Boys (above). Why not?
Kit Chan (above). Singapore’s national treasure.
Dan Reynolds, Imagine Dragons healing the crowd (above).
Rick Savage, Def Leppard (above).
Steve Lukather, Toto – just before making his entrance on stage (above).
Steve Vai, soundcheck (above).
Steve Lukather, Toto – wearing a Ringo Starr shirt, during soundcheck (above).
Luke is also the guitarist for Ringo’s awesome All-Starr Band.
Bruce Johnston, Beach Boys – soundcheck (above).
You know Barry Manilow’s I Write The Songs hit? Barry didn’t write it, Bruce did.
Concert Security Guards (above)
Karen O playfully bowing to Nick Zinner, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (above).
Nick is also an accomplished photographer.
Nile Rodgers, Chic (above)
Bonus Back image – Darth Vader and his Galactic Stormtrooper Colleagues, focusing on the task at hand or if you prefer, all hands on deck (above).