Article by: Casey Steinmiller
For most bands starting out touring, life on the road can be what you make of it. It’s not quite as glamorous as the life of a true rockstar (whatever that means these days), but more like hunting down an old van and praying that vehicle can make it through a desert to your next venue, your next hotel, … often times it can be the hotel. Then, playing to various size crowds night after night in various cities, waiting for money from club managers… It was my job to document all of this for the band BRUISE as their tour photographer; the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Being a tour photographer isn’t a role where you really get to relax. This is an all the time job, and even while everyone is asleep I’ll go through the days photos working late into the night. Of course, photographing a band does have its perks. Such as getting to see the band members faces light up as I show them a shot of the night before. But taking photos wasn’t the only thing I had to do. I became a jack-of-all-trades and even a “tour dad” at times to the musicians. This came in the form of loading and unloading, setting up drums, running merch, or even making sure everyone hydrates and eats some salads. Like I previously said, it’s an all the time job with no time off. On top of everything else capturing and taking quick snapshots throughout the days of anything and everything was quite a bit to handle. Touring isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s well worth it in my opinion.
Shooting the actual shows was great, but also a challenge. We played a new venue every night ranging from house shows, to bars, as well as larger clubs. With that came lighting challenges of very well lit stages to dark corners of a living room. I almost always had to use a speedlight, which I’m not used to and would prefer to go without unless absolutely necessary in most cases. During the shows, the sets were about thirty to forty-five minutes, so I had to work fast. During the intro, Zach (the bassist) and I had worked out a system halfway through the tour about getting jump shots. I’d line up right before the drums hit in the song. He would look right at me, and I would nod that I was ready and had the right lens on. He would jump regardless if I was ready or not, but nine out of ten times we were all set. This made for some great images that I wouldn’t have been able to get without planning it.
Getting photos of Christian (the singer) was relatively tricky because he was glued to the microphone most of the time, but it made for some really emotional close up shots. Lennon (the drummer) proved to be the most difficult to shoot because he was always in the back and was covered up when the stages were small. I decided, during their softer songs, that I would hop back behind the drum riser or behind an amp next to him. For one house show I was stuck between his kit and an oven, praying that he wouldn’t hit me; he laughed pretty hard when he noticed me crammed in there.
Overall, the tour made for an incredible experience. It’s hard to sum up two and a half weeks worth of stories and experiences into one article. You just have to experience it for yourself, if this is something that’s an interest of yours. I fell in love with touring, and hope I can do it for the rest of my life.
If you would like to purchase prints from tour or see a gallery of my favorite shots, click the link below!