How did I, the lowly blogger, get a photo pass to the show?
I asked nicely, and was honest with them.
It really was that simple. I went to the Steep Canyon Rangers’ website, found their contact information, fired off an email, and the next day I got a confirmation email from the tour manager. The photo pass was waiting for me at Will Call when I walked into the theater.
Now, this doesn’t always work. It was definitely beginner’s luck. I tried to get a photo pass to a Meat Loaf performance before that, but got nowhere. I’ve sent similar emails to a half dozen other acts in the couple of months since then, and most go into a void, never to be returned.
As someone who’s trying to build up a portfolio of this kind of work in the hopes of landing some paid gigs, I’ve had to strategize. I’ve targeted my requests to acts at venues that I don’t think will be teeming with other photographers. And, sure enough, at this show there was only one other guy with a Canon there. I’m pretty sure he was with the venue, though. (Nice Canon 70-200mm lens, too.) While Steve Martin is a big name, he and the group have done a number of other concerts in the area already, with another lined up in nearby Morristown next month. So any newspaper or something that might want to cover the show could have had their shot in the city already. And the Bergen PAC is a smaller venue, so might be overlooked by those looking at the bigger, more active smaller theaters in the area. Again, the same concert in New York City (not ten minutes down the road from BPAC) might attract more photogs.
Also in retrospect, I’d've killed to see Meat Loaf in the venue. I can’t imagine seeing a concert of his in so small a place, relatively speaking. The theater started out as a vaudeville hall, then turned into a movie theater, before turning into a Performing Arts Center. The place has charm and character and I’d love to shoot more concerts there. How it could hope to contain the bombastic Meat Loaf, I’ll never know…
Sorry for the digression.
I’m also not trying to start out requesting a pass for Bruce Springsteen or U2 or Lady Gaga. Those are the big arena acts whose photo pits will be bustling, with plenty of people turned away. And I’m honestly fine with that. I’m picking and choosing acts I’m interested in and have some familiarity with, while not jostling for room.
And, as a bonus, the theater is small enough that even standing in the back of it, I can reach the stage with the 300mm lens I have. My 85mm prime lens would work perfectly from the corner of the stage, where the speakers are. I didn’t have access there this time, but I hope to in the future.
The summer concert season is just beginning, and we still have a month until summer starts. I hope we’ll be talking about a lot more concerts in the weeks and months ahead.
If you have any questions about this particular concert, please leave a comment here and I’ll do a follow-up post next week.