Photo Pit Gladiators

2014 – At Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (Riverport) in St. Louis, MO., I shoot around 25 shows a year, over one hundred bands. At any given show, I will share the photo pit with 2 to 12 other photographers. At every show, I also share the pit with 6 to 10 security personnel, my photo pit brothers, the real gladiators inside the rail. This is often a lot of bodies, in a very tight place. Each of us have a job to do, and it doesn’t matter how good of a photographer you are, when entering a photo pit at a large venue, if pit etiquette and respect are not part of your tool kit attributes, chances are you will not come home with home run images, and you will forever be labeled “the dick” upon ever returning to shoot at that venue again. I’ve come to know all of the security team at the venue, earning their respect by playing by the rules, and in turn respecting their space, knowing they are there to protect the artist, and control the crowd. Knowing that any one of them will politely lean to the left, or right, 6 to 8 inches, can make the difference between a good shot, and a great shot. Once you get beyond their ‘game face’ during a performance, these are all good dudes. Like myself, by day they all have careers, families, and other interests. They are there because they enjoy the concert experience, don’t complain (too much) about long hours, and over the years have become family with each other, working together as a unit, and performing their job like well oiled machines. I was happy to be able to put together these portraits over the course of this past season, as well as post some unpublished images I’ve captured of these guys in action. Like it or not, I’ve accepted that often they become part of the subject and composition, at virtually every show I’ve shot. More times than not, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Photos below.

These guys are the best. I’ve seen a lot of things over the years shooting shows, especially at the festivals where crowd surfing, all day drinking, and extreme heat all can lead to potential dangerous situations. I’m amazed no one has been seriously injured. Many people owe much appreciation to the security team there who are first to take action should something go wrong. True pro’s. I’m glad they have my back, and thankful at every show for what they do. Can’t wait to get back in the pit with these boys next year! Cheers.

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