Now/It's: An Interview with Photographer Jacqueline Justice

If you've hopped on Instagram as of late (come on, we all know you have) then there's a solid chance you've happened upon Jacqueline Justice's work without even realizing it. She's been quietly (yet concertedly) managed to carve herself quite the nice slice of Nashville's massive photography pie, working with some of East Nashville's (and the city as a whole) brightest and best in Americana and more. Everyone from Jonny P to Jess Nolan to Emma Hern to Willie himself, Jacqueline has shot them one time or another, portrait or live. She's on top of her game, and in talking to her about the photography industry at-large, being a young woman in a non-music avenue of entertainment, and the magnanimous (for now) nature of Americana music, its easy to understand how she's managed to forge as many relationships with as many different people possible. In short - she gets it. 

Now/It's met with Jacqueline Justice at Portland Brew East, in East Nashville. 

N/I - So you were just out of town?

Jacqueline - I was in Chattanooga with Future Thieves. Like I just went down for the day, but I didn’t get back until 3 AM.

N/I - How long have you been doing stuff with them?

Jacqueline - Since I moved here. I’ve been doing things with them basically since the week I moved here. Its been like a year and some.

N/I - And that was just like photo/video stuff?

Jacqueline - Yeah, I don’t really do that much with them anymore, just because I don’t have a ton of time. I don’t know - when I moved here, I didn’t have much going on, so they were like “Yeah, come on and go wherever.” Now I’m like “I’ll do one of these shows.” I mean, I love them, they’re great, but I just can’t do all of it.

N/I - So how did you get that? Was it while your sister was here in town before you?

Jacqueline - No. Their manager just posted online that they needed - I think they were kind of looking for an intern type situation… [Future Thieves’ manager] works for TKO, so he kind of goes through interns. I don’t think they anticipated me in the role they had - I got along well with them, and it was work, so here we are now - I’m still working with them.

N/I - But it was a solid one off?

Jacqueline - Yeah, its like a two week thing and Guthrie [Brown] is opening, so I was kind of going just as much due to the fact Guthrie was there as well. It was good. I enjoyed it, but I’ve just been exhausted.

N/I - What has your summer been like? Because I just saw you at Bonnaroo, but otherwise, that’s it.

Jacqueline - Yeah. I was out of town with Jonny P the weekend before - we did Chicago, then Milwaukee, and then we had a day off here, and then had the Fourth of July the next day downtown - so the past two weeks have kind of been gone. It hasn’t even felt like I’ve been gone that long, but its been so much driving and a lot of late nights and stuff that I feel drained. But I’m pretty much here for the rest of the summer now.

N/I - What are you going to do then? Roots Radio stuff? More portraits?

Jacqueline - Yeah, something between the two. I don’t really know what I’m doing [laughs]. I kind of have a lot of stuff coming up here. I’ve been busy, and I think I’m going to stay busy.

N/I - What stuff here?

Jacqueline - I just have like random shoots with people.

N/I - Is that what you’d prefer to be doing?

Jacqueline - I don’t really know… I like doing road stuff, it just has to be the right person. Jonny [P] was awesome.

N/I - So outside of the road stuff, who are you shooting with here?

Jacqueline - I’m shooting some stuff for Katie Pruitt tomorrow. That’ll be fun. I’m excited. She sent me a ton of pictures and ideas of what she wants to do.

N/I - Is it just promo stuff? Or is if for an album cover?

Jacqueline - She doesn’t have any photos that aren’t live. So we’re just doing some stuff… I’m not sure what its for, maybe for the album. I don’t know. She just needs something, because when she has to send photos and stuff to people for shows, she only has live ones. So that’s what I’m doing today, figuring that out. I’ve been wanting to do more of the portrait thing recently, its been fun.

N/I - Well it seems like you’ve been making a concerted effort at it, because I’ve seen virtually everyone post something and find out the photo credit goes to you.

Jacqueline - Yeah, I don’t know. I think I’m kind of burned out on the live show thing, just a little bit, because its just so much work. You can’t control it.

N/I - You mean its so much work physically?

Jacqueline - Well, not so much that, but you’re going to end up with way more pictures than you use or need. But with portraits, that’s not the case. I mean, with live photos, I’ve just gone through so many hard drives.

N/I - That’s the worst.

Jacqueline - Then there’s [the toll on] the shutter count on your camera, which you don’t really think about, but that kind of makes it not that worth it. Its fine, but sometimes its just too much. Its not the best way to make money.

N/I - Well when you have twenty people shooting, your fee is driven down exponentially.

Jacqueline - Yeah. Its not a great career making model. The only people that really make a ton of money doing it are on the road every weekend. Which I would consider, but then again, you can make as much money doing just portraits. And that’s a fun mix of both. I also think because I’ve shot pretty much every venue in town and stuff, things just start to begin to look the same after a while. There’s only so much you can do.

N/I - Right. Have you ever shot at the Back Corner?

Jacqueline - No! I’ve never been there.

N/I - I haven’t either.

Jacqueline - I’m a little confused about what it is.

N/I - Well, actually, I take that back - I’ve been there, but I have not shot there.

Jacqueline - Okay. I’ve never even been there.

N/I - I’ve only been once, and that was when Cale Tyson was doing his month-long every Monday residency, or whatever it was. Sam Outlaw was a guest performer.

Jacqueline - I need to go see him, I’ve never seen him play before.

N/I - You’ve never seen him before?

Jacqueline - Cale. Well, actually, I’ve never seen Father John Misty before either.

N/I - Were you at Bonnaroo last year?

Jacqueline - Yeah. I don’t think I was at his show though. I don’t know where I was.

N/I -  Who were you shooting for last year at Bonnaroo?

Jacqueline - I wasn’t shooting for anyone. I was just there. My sister was shooting for Vanderbilt’s TV thing. VTVU?

N/I - I wouldn’t know. Would it not be VUTV?

Jacqueline - No, it was something with a VT.

N/I - So VTTV?

Jacqueline - I don’t know, there were a lot of V’s and T’s and U’s. I don’t know.

N/I - It wasn’t WRVU?

Jacqueline - No… Well maybe it was? That’s the radio station, right?

N/I - That’s the old radio station. Sometimes I mix their call letters up with Lightning 100’s.

Jacqueline - WRLT?

N/I - Yes.

Jacqueline - I don’t know, it was something Vandy related, I’m not sure [laughs].

N/I - Anyway, that’s how we arrived at you being at Bonnaroo.

Jacqueline - Right. I interned at Red Light [Management] in college, so they just gave me an artist guest pass.

N/I - Cool. Did you intern at the Red Light offices here in town?

Jacqueline - No, I was in Charlottesville, so I was at their Charlottesville offices.

N/I - They have an office in Charlottesville?

Jacqueline - They started in Charlottesville.

N/I - See, I knew they started in Virginia, I just assumed it was either Virginia Beach or Richmond.

Jacqueline - No. Dave Matthews is from Charlottesville, and so there was this bar downtown that he played at a lot, and Coran Capshaw - the guy that started Red Light - would go down there and they became friends before starting Redlight together. So that’s like their main office.

N/I - Their headquarters?

Jacqueline - Yeah, because Coran works out of there.

N/I - Okay. I didn’t realize he worked out of that office.

Jacqueline - Yeah, he is in Nashville a decent amount. He’ll come to Nashville at least two or three times a week. The Red Light office there is really big, and they have like a real estate office, too, because they own like 200 Walgreens, too. Its some random real estate. So its funny, because half of the office is working with music and artists, and the other half is just handling things that [Red Light] owns. They own Starr Hill Brewery… So its weird, because its a music management office, but they also happen to own some properties as well.

N/I - So its kind of similar to how General Electric used to own Universal, and now Comcast owns it. Its weird to think that Comcast owns this giant entertainment company - which makes more sense than GE.

Jacqueline - Well that gets into the question of whether or not its going to limit the kinds of things they produce. Or at least change that. Because I remember when that happened, people were saying they would slow down streaming of things that weren’t their own programs.

N/I - That’s right, and at the same time, it sort of spurred a lot of the net neutrality stuff. Do you keep up with that stuff at all?

Jacqueline - I was a media studies major. I never want hear the term “net neutrality” again [laughs].

N/I - I bet. So yesterday there was some sort of “day of revolt” or whatever….

Jacqueline - Oh yeah! I saw that, but I wasn’t sure what it was exactly.

N/I - Its my understanding that a handful of larger sites purposefully closed off aspects of their platforms in order to imitate what a non-neutral Internet might look like. I’m not sure how effective it was, but it seems like a nice idea. It seemed like it was oriented toward people who might not be all that familiar with the nature of a non-neutral Internet, because the demonstrations were on Netflix, YouTube, and Reddit and heavily trafficked sites like that. I think most just slowed down their bandwidth.

Jacqueline - So that’s why everything was so slow [laughs]!

Jacqueline - Judge me all you want, but I started watching Pretty Little Liars the day it came out in high school, and all of my friends and I would sit down and watch it together. So it just ended, and I was like “I have to watch it.” I think it was on HBO GO or something like that, so I was trying to watch it and it was so slow.

N/I - Wait, Pretty Little Liars is on HBO?

Jacqueline - Yeah, and so is Big Little Lies.

N/I - Oh, okay. I watched Big Little Lies.

Jacqueline - Big Little Lies was awesome.

N/I - I thought it was incredible.

Jacqueline - And the soundtrack was, too. Because Michael Kiwanuka got big after that - since he did the theme song - and I was like “Why is everyone listening to these songs now?”

N/I - That was interesting to me. I think his debut album (Home Again) came out in 2012, and he started to take off on this trajectory with acts like him and Nick Waterhouse beginning to take hold, only to disappear afterward. It was basically Kiwanuka, Waterhouse, Ben Howard…

Jacqueline - I feel like Ben Howard was niche enough that there was no major fall off, because there are girls that love him.

N/I - Right, and Ben Howard has the safety of not cursing or trying to purvey a particular view or belief system. Its just songs like “The Fear” and that’s about the most general “fear” you can think of. Then there’s stuff like “Old Pine.”

Jacqueline - Its almost like a watered down version of Thoreau, in my opinion.

N/I - Oh, absolutely. I’ve never thought of that.

Jacqueline - The parts of Thoreau that appeal to people in their early twenties - basically our generation.

N/I - Or just people that are easily impressed upon. Its relaxing and serene and most importantly, not overwhelming because of the vastness of nature. Also, bringing it back to Ben Howard - he was a surfer before he started playing music, so there’s the connection with nature and the sea. So to your point, it seems pretty accurate.

Jacqueline - I like Ben Howard, so it doesn’t really bother me either way.

N/I - I do too, I think he’s really good. I actually saw him and Michael Kiwanuka play back to back at Bonnaroo in 2012. That was the first time I went to Bonnaroo.

Jacqueline - Okay. I wasn’t there, then. I saw [Ben Howard] at Bonnaroo one year, but it wasn’t 2012.

N/I - Was it 2014?

Jacqueline - I think it was 2014.

N/I - Right, because I think that was when his most recent album came out.

Jacqueline - Yeah, and it was roughly midday, which was kind of weird.

N/I - And it was on one of the big stages, right?

Jacqueline - Yeah.

N/I - Was it on What Stage?

Jacqueline - Which [stage] was the one that Cage the Elephant played on this year.

N/I - Which Stage.

Jacqueline - Yeah, it was on my birthday, too. My sister ditched me for some reason. She wandered off and I was like “Okay, bye! I’m going to go to Ben Howard alone.”

N/I - Well its a festival, there’s nothing wrong with going alone to a set.

Jacqueline - It was nice. I just sat in the grass and hung out. It was really good though, for - it was like a 2PM set - really early in the day.

N/I - And he’s kind of folk or Americana, so somewhat up your alley.

Jacqueline - I think the Americana people would not cover him as Americana…

N/I - Why is that?

Jacqueline - Because there’s no pedal steel or hints of bluegrass or anything like that. I think people in the Americana world want some of the traditional elements to it.

N/I - Is that what you would consider to be Americana?

Jacqueline - I mean, I like stuff like that. I think that a lot of the cool things about Americana is that it is such a broad definition that it can cover and fall into a lot of different things, and I think the differences that people see harkens back to what country used to be. In fact, some people tend to see it as exclusively that, and I don’t see it that way. But I love the stuff that does have the traditional country sound, and I think its great that Americana is giving that a place. I don’t think that means The Lumineers aren’t Americana, just because they’re not as much…

N/I - Country sounding.

Jacqueline - Yeah. They don’t sound as much like Waylon Jennings or anything. But I think that’s okay, and I think that’s why people are latching onto Americana right now, because it provides a home for all that stuff that doesn’t really have one. I just feel like there’s a lot of people fighting against bands like The Lumineers and that stuff, and I think a lot of that is because they got popular. So people are like “Meh, we don’t like that any more.”

N/I - Its kind of like the same thought behind when Kings of Leon blew up here in town - they blew up worldwide in 2008, I think it is - and then the prevailing view of them totally shifted. It was like “Yeah, they’re cool…”

Jacqueline - Well now people would say “I really liked their first record.” No would say they like the new stuff.

N/I - “Aha Shake was really good,” or when they announced when they were playing the baseball stadium, I talked to people that were saying “It’ll be a good show, but it’ll be a really good show if they play the first two records all the way through.” And I’m sure I said something to that effect too, so I’m definitely guilty of being pretentious in that regard [laughs].

Jacqueline - Its like “Oh shit, I’ve become that person now.”

N/I - Yeah, I’m an idiot. I love Kings of Leon… So do you ever feel that because Americana is so broad some people try and take advantage of it? As far as “shifting into it” might be concerned?

Jacqueline - Like artists?

N/I - Artists… Or from a lifestyle standpoint, I guess.

Jacqueline - Well I think the point is - artists wouldn’t categorize themselves into one thing - I think they’re very hesitant to say “I’m Americana.” Its other people that try to put them in that box.

N/I - Do you think its because its so broad?

Jacqueline - People just don’t know where to put it. Its kind of like calling something “indie” or “alternative.” Its something that wouldn’t get played on mainstream radio, but is something so vast in any direction that it becomes indie. Like “indie;” what does that even mean? I have no idea what that’s going to sound like. So I think Americana is just the new term that people are kind of using, because it doesn’t fit with everyone else. I don’t know how they pick. In some ways its fine, because you don’t want to categorize things so strongly… you know when people give you really long, elaborate definitions like “Its early 2000s Seattle based indie pop rock folk,” but not something specific.

N/I - Right, where instead they could have just said “They sound like Modest Mouse and Death Cab.”

Jacqueline - And so in some ways, I like that if [Americana] is such a broad term and you listen to something within that, it allows for a chance to arrive at your own decision on what it is, instead of someone giving you a long definition of what it is, and then you’re predisposed to think “That’s what this is.” I think that people are very critical about what’s allowed to Americana. But at the same time, the Americana world is very protective of it, because all of that stuff is just now starting to get more popular in the mainstream media, and for so long its been something that no one cared about. So I think that people who have cared about it for a long time are protective of it, because they don’t want it to evolve into what happened with country music. So I think that’s why they’re like “No, The Lumineers aren’t Americana.”

N/I - Right. Do you think that could happen? Turning into a presumed big money making machine like country?

Jacqueline - Well I think what’s happening right now is money is placed in the old style of things. Right now, [money] isn’t the issue, because when Margo Price is taking off, everyone else wants to sound like that too. People are always going to want to sound like what’s doing well.

N/I - That’s an interesting point, because if you look at what’s happening in Americana - there’s Margo [Price], there’s Colter Wall, there’s Amanda Shires - and then you look at the same people that have the equivalent career “experience” in something like mainstream country and its Dylan Scott and Chris Janson, people seem far more adamant about celebrating the Margo Price group rather than the Dylan Scott group. Because I think we may have finally reached the point where listeners start to grow tired of the mainstream country sound, for now, at least. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next five to ten years.

Jacqueline - But what’s funny is that people from my hometown still love those guys. Florida Georgia Line will always sell out in my hometown.

N/I - Sure. I think Florida Georgia Line has enough existing goodwill with certain groups that no matter what happens to the country and Americana listener groups, there will always be a defined segment that will pay to go to their shows.

Jacqueline - I don’t know if we’re in a bit of a bubble in terms of people perceiving what’s actually “good” and I think the rest of the world isn’t necessarily in that position. So I think that mainstream type of country music that Florida Georgia Line does will always be a thing, because they’re relating to a demographic that you and I aren’t really a part of, so we can’t quite relate or understand fully, no matter how hard we try. Because the radio station back home…

N/I - Where are you from?

Jacqueline - I’m from Virginia Beach.

N/I - Okay, cool.

Jacqueline - But [the local radio station] has a country summer pass thing where you pay two hundred dollars or something and you get tickets to every country concert that comes through town during the summer…

N/I - At the local amphitheater?

Jacqueline - Yes. And its like five or six acts that come through, and that’s a big thing, so a lot of people do it, but that was the social outing of the summer when I was in high school. Everyone and their parents would come to the concerts and sneak little liquor bottles in their boots [laughs]. Or sit in the parking lot of the amphitheater and drink some Bud Light…

N/I - Tailgate, pre-game…

Jacqueline - But I think that’s always going to be a thing, because I think I was thinking “Oh that kind of things doesn’t happen anymore,” and then I see pictures on Facebook of people from my hometown and they still love it.

N/I - Well yeah, I mean, Virginia Beach, that whole area isn’t super rural, is it?

Jacqueline - No.

N/I - But at the same time, its not a metropolitan mecca, so - this is unbased theorizing - the thought is when you’re not from a big city, and you hear that someone like… take Bruno Mars, club, dancing, party music… if that’s not your familiar lifestyle, but when someone sings about a lifestyle that vaguely resembles a place like Virginia Beach in a way that’s more relatable than something Bruno Mars might sing about, it sticks. That’s enough to draw you in.

Jacqueline - And I think a lot of that stems from the fact that it is vague - they don’t have that authentic country experience, which is why they don’t like the really authentic country music. There was a group of “rednecks” at my high school, and they were “rednecks” in the sense that they dipped and drove trucks, but they didn’t really even hunt or live off a farm - they lived in nice suburban neighborhoods - they just…

N/I - Decided “This is my thing now.”

Jacqueline - Yeah, the thing that people in the actual country do was not the lifestyle that these kids were living. So I think that’s what the appeal is of country music right now, they’re not really from the boonies of Texas.

N/I - Its a little more like country aspiration, or idealism.

Jacqueline - Yeah, so it kind of makes sense of why that would appeal to that crowd. They’re wanting to escape into this idealized reality.

N/I - Well, a lot of things are aspiration, one way or another. If you think about Americana and the “good” Americana, it sort of becomes this aspiration that there are still people that make music like Waylon, Tammy Wynnette, Del McCoury, or Jone Mitchell, so that fact is not as disappointing as what we’ve been discussing, but its still effectively the same thing. I don’t want to make it seem like I think everything is one big marketing plow, but sometimes it does seem like its a bit of a wash when it comes to what causes people to connect to a song.

Jacqueline - I feel like its kind of the same thing with CCM [Christian Contemporary Music], where they know exactly how to relate to people within their specific demographic. I think that the people that enjoy that are a little oblivious to that, that people who write these songs know how to exactly appeal to them. Its kind of scary.

N/I - Oh yeah, its uncanny.

Jacqueline - Country Music is the same thing, but with CCM, its religion, so it has to look more serious.

N/I - The two titans of Nashville’s non-sports entertainment industry, playing into mindless masses… Not really, I don’t actually believe in that.

Jacqueline - [Laughs] Yeah, it sounds so negative.

N/I - So getting back to the Jacqueline side of things - you are totally independent right now? Outside of Roots Radio stuff?

Jacqueline - Yeah.

N/I - Do you like that? Is that what you want to be doing?

Jacqueline - I like being able to pick my own projects that I work on, but its hard because the stuff that I want to do is never the stuff that pays as well. Its people that find interesting…

N/I - Well there’s something to be said for that.

Jacqueline - Its also cool, because I like working with people who haven’t really established a brand yet, so there are fewer hands involved. When you get involved with people that have a big management company and booking agents and stuff, they already have an image in mind of what they want to be. So at that point, there are too many people. I try to make their image… I worked at Seventeen Magazine a couple of summers ago in the photo department. I didn’t get to do a ton - I went to one shoot the entire summer - I didn’t get to do any of the actual shooting stuff.

N/I - Like actual taking photos or set designing or directing?

Jacqueline - Yeah. None of it. I didn’t even really see much of that.

N/I - Were you a photo assistant?

Jacqueline - I don’t really know what I was.

N/I - Were you hanging in the coat room making sure no one steals stuff?

Jacqueline - I brought coffee in. One time they did a shoot with confetti and I had to come at the end of the shoot to sweep the confetti.

N/I - So a classic low level intern, PA thing?

Jacqueline - Yeah. But the one shoot that I was at, it was a female photographer, and I wound up talking to her. She was nice, but she kind of asked me what I was interested in doing, and I said I was interested in doing editorial photography, and she was like “Its going to be a lot harder for you as a female.” And I was like “Good to know!” at seventeen years old and was ultimately just like “Great…”

N/I - What did she say? Anything specific?

Jacqueline - She just said people won’t take me seriously as much, which I think is true in most fields.

N/I - Its an unfortunate state.

Jacqueline - Particularly in the creative field. There isn’t as much statistical data that you can show for what you’re abilities or “look” is. Like in business, you can show empirical evidence through sales to pitch new things, but with something creative you’re like “I took this photo, isn’t it nice?” [Laughs] I mean, I think some of its related to - especially in the music industry, doing that - there’s so much traveling involved too, and I think its easier for management companies for guys to do things so there aren’t as many potential lawsuits should anything happen. And I’ve definitely experienced that before.

N/I - The lawsuits?

Jacqueline - [Laughs] No! No! No lawsuits…

N/I - Just that type of thinking?

Jacqueline - Managers being like “Well, if you come, we’re going to have to get you your own hotel room,” and I’m like “I can just crash on the couch,” and they insist on it anyway. I get it, but does it really have to come to this?

N/I - Its overly cautious or hypersensitive.

Jacqueline - Yeah, its a job, and it doesn’t help that I’m young, too. I think when you’re older, more established people take you more seriously, which isn’t necessarily the same, but at least every goes through that one way or another.

N/I - I’d say those are the two primary incongruous views within any particular field. Especially being young…

Jacqueline - You’re simply viewed as a hobbyist, and that you only shoot your friends.

N/I - Or you read one Rolling Stone interview and its like “Cool, I want to do that now.” That’s something that I hope becomes less and less of a factor, and I think it is, especially if you look at the fact that you’re literally doing portraits with people. You’re basically doing them with everyone. You’ve already carved out this mini-monopoly in town. You’re the “go to” here in Nashville, as far as I’m concerned.

Jacqueline - I think the other thing is just that - I was talking to this photographer in Chicago when I was up there with Jonny [P], and Devon Gilfillian was opening, and he had shot something with Devon earlier in the day. He brought along a photobook of photos he had done, just to prove himself. Because it was interesting talking to him, when people look at me and see a younger girl taking pictures and assume that either one, they’re not good, or two, your parents somehow set this up for you.

N/I - Or you’re somehow inseparably linked to someone in the band.

Jacqueline - Related or something like that. So it was interesting talking to him, because he said people view him as an older dude and assume he doesn’t know what he’s doing because he’s “old.” And I was like “Wow, you’re in the complete opposite position that I’m in.” He’s an older male and he still hits that block. Who wins here?

N/I - Well it begins to beg the question of “Is there a window” of which someone can be taken seriously. Like once you hit thirty, is there a decade long period in which you bust your ass and really hope that by the time forty comes along, you’ve done some solid work. Otherwise the window is closed.

Jacqueline - Well I do think its middle aged males, around that age. Because a lot of times with photography, people associate technical knowledge with what kind of product you put out. I think there’s a tendency for middle aged guys to know a lot about the technical aspect, with a ton of equipment, but I feel like I still see it more as an art where your equipment doesn’t dictate what you do. And I think the whole return to film thing is important, because of that. Its more about the composition and the feel of it than the technical elements. But I think that a lot of people see middle aged guys with a ton of equipment and its seems like they really know what they’re doing. Sometimes I’ll see them shooting something and I’ll be like “Wow, he has a really nice camera” and I’ll see the pictures after the fact and just think “How on earth did you not get something better?”

N/I - That’s what kills me with live photo - I literally bring the kit lens and a 51-200 millimeter lens. Part of it is because I’m taller…

Jacqueline - [Laughs] You can just pop over people…

N/I - Yeah. It kills me when I get into the pit and there are these old dudes with a ton of gear and immediately see a new young person and want to talk gear, when I just really don’t care. They can talk your ear off about gear, but then they have no idea who it is they’re shooting. To the point of you saying photography is an art, I think there’s something to be said for being familiar with who you’re shooting, and understanding them as a performer. That way you’re not camping out in one spot, praying for something interesting, instead you know where the dynamic moments are. Its a world of difference in my mind, at least in terms of composition and tone.

Jacqueline - It was interesting, because that Chicago guy was talking to me about the “first three song” rule, which I think I have been doing for as long as I’ve been shooting. Its pretty standard for festivals and big acts coming through. But he was telling me about the time before that ever being a thing, and I haven’t really thought about that much to begin with. I’m just used to it as “how it is.” But once we started talking about it, I was like “it is weird,” the first three songs are always the darkest. The band wants dim lights for the first few songs, and they’re often mellow, and the energy inevitably isn’t there yet.

N/I - And you’re lucky if the third song is their biggest hit…

Jacqueline - And they turn the lights on. But even if they did the last three songs, that would make for really good photos, because at least then the crowd would fully be into it. But the Chicago guy said it had gotten to the point that when they could shoot the entire show, there would be so many photographers there, the clicking would get distracting, so some artists were just over it. Which I get. Like we’ve both been to Bonnaroo - there are fifty other photographers and everyone’s crunched together. Its like “Is anyone really getting good shots here?”

N/I - And if you’re on the outside of the photographer scrum on the far side of the stage, you’re praying they wind up in front of you at some point, otherwise you’re depending solely on your gear.

Jacqueline - But I don’t really know what a good solution for that is. I understand there are a ton of media outlets, and you don’t want them all to have the same exact image, but when its something where 70,000 people attend and 300 bands play, you’re going to get a lot of coverage, but I still don’t know.

N/I - It is interesting, because Marathon Music Works - I don’t know if it was just for Mac DeMarco, or if its house policy now. I guess it was just Mac DeMarco, but he let photographers stay in the pit the whole show.

Jacqueline - Really? See, those are the types of photos I would want, because the only ones that you want captured are going to happen outside of the first three songs.

N/I - Exactly. If you’re playing a forty-five to sixty minute set, the first fifteen minutes are not going to be when someone like Tove Lo flashes the audience, or Mac DeMarco stands up on a stack and takes off all his clothes. I like the last three song idea.

Jacqueline - I figure some of the reason why it doesn’t happen is because they can’t give you an exact time, and I wonder if fewer people would be willing to do it, which might be a good thing. If the people that come out and shoot the last three songs are the types of people that would want to stay the whole set anyway, maybe that’s the type of people you want shooting it in the first place.

N/I - I would say so. Because they’re are a lot of photographers that just pop in first three and then bail immediately after. We’ve all done it.

Jacqueline - I’ve done it before. If its someone that I tried to get into but can’t…

N/I - I mean, there are always extenuating circumstances that require you to cut your losses at a certain point. I really like that last three idea.

Jacqueline - I’ll fight for it.

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