This fall, I spent 3 days on one of Billy Raffoul's first tours. It was a blast spending time with these folks and I hope we get to do it again! In addition to shooting the shows, I took portraits two different days: Sunday in Omaha and Monday in Kansas City. On Sunday, the neighboring brewery allowed us to shoot inside and on Monday, we utilized the nearby buildings. Thanks to Billy, Alex, Sara, Justin, and Interscope!
I spent an afternoon and evening with Sir Sly, shadowing them during soundcheck and a shirt signing at local store Raygun, and shooting their show at Woolys'. My favourite part, however, is always the portraits. A few minutes and some makeshift lighting tricks, and we got some awesome shots. Thank you guys (and Interscope)!
David took some portraits of Blake and I, and in exchange I snagged some portraits of him, too! Colour has been my most recent obsession, and even on a cloudy day, we found some.
Hanna was our lovely host in Chicago for a couple nights last month. She and I hadn't met before that weekend, but became friends and she let me take a few portraits of her in this amazing pink room.
Minneapolis LANY shows hold a special place in my heart. It was in Minneapolis (this same venue actually) that I saw first LANY, opening for Oh Wonder in June 2016. That was also the same day I went on my very first adventure with Blake. My only camera was a disposable; I didn't even know that was a LANY "thing," but it was a happy accident. Jump forward to October 2017, and they're headlining a sold-out show. I'm with the same boy, but I've got a much larger camera and I'm actually working (how crazy is that?) and the boy and I are holding hands now.
Minneapolis was also the first city I'd done LANY fan photos in, and I've grown to recognize some of the fans and they know me by name. (And I try hard to remember your names--there's a lot more of you than me!) The LANY fandom is like a little family and I love that so much. It's like having a bunch of little sibs at every show.
Some of them had different hair colours this year and it was definitely colder than last fall's show, but their eyes were bright and their hands clutched roses. In front of First Avenue, they'd drawn with chalk the LANY rose and sweet notes to the band. They huddled under blankets and denim jackets, excitement building as the door time drew near.
I said it last fall and I'll say it again: you humans are magic. You hold within you the power to change culture and change the world. You've done something rare: to have a fandom of a boy band that isn't catty or competitive, that cares about each other and that welcomes new humans in. That is, in small part, because of the band's attitude, but mostly, fam, that's because of YOU. That's what makes LANY special. It's how you look out for each other and befriend each other. It's how you welcomed me into the crowd when I had to shoot from there. You could've easily been irritated at the girl with the big camera, but you were kind. Thank you. It's how I can fly to New York to meet a girl from Germany and how we are friends because of a band. LANY fam is a fam.
Keep being kind. Keep bringing roses and giving each other hugs. Be generous with your kind words. It's okay to cry, but remember to laugh, too, and don't be afraid to lose your mind about the things that you love (right now for me, it's potatoes). Stay up for sunsets and wake up early for sunrises. I promise you it's worth it every time. You're getting older since I first met you, but don't let the world tell you, don't let hard times tell you, that there isn't wonder still left to find. Bad days and bad boys and bad girls will break your hearts but I promise you there are good boys and good girls and good days out there. They are coming. Each year will get a little harder, but I promise you: it will get better, too. Hold on. Hang on. Keep on. Your time is now and it may not feel like it today but the world is yours. Your time is still coming, too. You've made the band who opened up 507 days before a sold-out headliner. You have a voice and you have power and you have wonder and excitement and a lot of beautiful things. Hold them close and hold everything else with open hands. You can change the world. I believe in you. ILYSB.
This LANY show was perhaps one of the more sentimental for me. Seven and a half years ago, almost to the day, I shot my very first show at this venue. I was wide-eyed and unsure and alone. Now I'm still wide-eyed (never lost your sense of wonder, fam) but a little more sure and less alone--Blake traveled with me and the LANY fam have become my friends. It's beautiful to walk by a line of people and hear your name. A band whose name I didn't know two years ago has been the conduit through which these now-friends know my name.
Because I'm sentimental and full of words, here are a few for you, LANY fam. Life is hard--don't stop being curious or amazed or grateful. Work hard and be thankful. Learn to roll with change--if you can do this, you're golden. Keep your hands and your expectations open and your hopes and your head high. Competition is overrated; be kind and cultivate community. You need people. I need people. We need each other. Keep dancing. Always dance. Dance at shows. Dance in parking lots. Dance on rainy days and jump in puddles. Joy is important and the best way to find it is by being thankful. If you're an artist, keep practicing. It takes time. Good things take time. Give yourself grace and don't give up on yourself or your art or other people easily. This LANY fandom--this kindness and friendship among strangers--is a rarity. Value it, keep it, don't change. ILYSB.
Friday I got to the venue 2 hours early. I'm never early, but I was nervous as anything and wanted to make sure I was fed (at the mall next door) and changed (in the Barnes and Noble bathroom) and ready to shoot (by location scouting around the venue). Then I sat on the curb in the shade, in my giant bright silk shirt, and waited to be let inside. I texted: “I’m here; I’m the only one who looks like a 90’s grandparent vacationing in Florida and not a security person.”
Before I could even finish my LaCroix, I was ushered into the back of the building.
We decided to take photos inside, so everything you see here were locations I found with Mitch and Tyson in the first 5 minutes of entering the building. We hustled; they helped me with lighting (what gems of photo assistants) and we made it happen and I’m so proud of how these turned out. New motto: don’t make excuses; make art.
From there, my expectations for the rest of the weekend were low. I would go downstairs and wait in the lobby until the show began. I’d shoot AAR’s first three songs, watch the rest of the show, load up into my car, edit and sleep at my Airbnb, and begin again in the morning. I expected the weekend to be fun, but also a little lonely, living in my car, not knowing anyone, traveling through three cities.
But nothing happened as I expected.
We got done shooting early, and the fellows walked me back to the green room, offered me a drink, and we talked. And they went out of their way at the entirety of the weekend to make sure I had AC and wifi and water and food and somewhere to stay at night. Who is that kind to someone they met a day or two ago? Nothing was as I expected, but all of it was better.
I guess what I'm saying is, I'm really grateful for kind humans. They were under no obligation to talk to me or befriend me at all, but they did. I left with new friends.
I started the weekend with the words: thankful, hopeful, ready. And I think they ended the weekend well, too. I don’t know if this story is a beginning or an end, or both altogether, but I’m thankful, hopeful, and ready for whatever is next in my story. Thank you, Mitch, Chris, Tyson, Mike, and Nick, for welcoming me into your little framily for a weekend. You're good eggs and I'm grateful to have met you.