I'm not one to look back, I'm always trying to forge ahead, find new ground, new things to write about, new things to photograph. I literally have thousands of photos I've never even bothered to look at, they will probably sit there until I retire and have nothing better to do than go through my archives. I've learned through time that this is the same with the greatest artists. Today however, is a day that does make me look backward with fondness. Today is the anniversary of one of the most significant gigs I've ever been to. Today is the anniversary of The Rolling Stones at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Why does this concert stand out so vividly against the backdrop of the hundreds of concerts I've been to? Because it is the exact instance in time that I decided that I no longer wished to look back at the things I had done photographically, I wished to share my art with the rest of the world. I decided at this exact date that I wanted to publish my photos. Little did I know that it would lead to one of the most exicting journeys that I could ever be a part of. It led to me becoming a writer.
I could pretend that I have been writing for years, and that I have a background in journalism, but it just isn't so. I wrote for my college newspaper back in the 1980's mostly because I wanted some text to go along with all the photos I loved to push through The Oblique Times. Personally, I thought I had absolutely no skills as a writer, and maybe I didn't. So I never really did it again. And as far as the photography goes, around 1985 I decided it was fun but I wasn't going to make a career of it, so I stopped doing it. And in the time between then and 2015 the rest of the world went and changed; Social media, the Internet, e-mail, all of these things happened. It's not like they happened without my knowledge, it's just that the marriage of pursuing gigs and the Internet hadn't yet intersected in my world.
That all changed on June 3, 2015 when I found myself in attendance at my third Rolling Stones concert in less than two weeks. I had been bitten by The Stones bug some time shortly before then, I wouldn't even have considered myself a huge fan before then, but being at a club gig less than five feet from Keith Richards will have that effect on you. That was the famous Fonda gig on May 20th. So I was scheduled to fly to Minneapolis for business, and guess who was going to be playing?
I took the time to call the stadium and find out what was the best kind of camera they allowed into the venue, then promptly went out and purchased it. It rained torrentially that day, and I almost skipped going. What a mistake that would have been. With my poncho and my pocket shooter, I entered the venue. It was like a scene in a movie where the athlete traverses the stadium tunnel to find themselves on a famous field. I was in the 10th row right in front of where Ron Wood would be standing, with a camera. With a camera......
Thirty years of the gulf of not having a camera released a flood of emotions and memories in me that felt better than sex. I remembered the excitement of going to a gig, standing on the other side of the barrier, looking at the shots afterward. I looked down at my newly purchased camera, tried to figure out how to operate this newly found technology (it was my first digital camera), and aimed it. Wow! The photos looked great on the small LCD screen... Surely they aren't going to be that good I told myself. I was in for a wonderful surprise.
Sitting on the plane the next day, I started uploading the photos onto my laptop, and I could not believe how great they were. I'm flipping through the hundreds of shots, and all of a sudden someone taps me on the shoulder. A passenger across the aisle had been watching me. I looked up and noticed that there were about five people looking over at me. I felt it again, that familiar feeling you get when people love your work. It's intoxicating. It's why artists create art.
A few days later, I started googling "music publications" and creating a spreadsheet of potential outlets for my photography. As I started going through them one by one, I marveled at how much easier this had become with the Internet. And that was only the beginning. After a few days, I hit upon The Los Angeles Beat, where I am still to this day. I ended up writing my first piece for them shortly after my Rolling Stones gig, but if it were not for The Rolling Stones, I would be sitting at home, dragging out the old photo album once every few years. Instead, I have become a writer, re-ignited my passion for photography, and started living my dreams.
I have learned the most important lesson of my life; Don't ever discard your dreams! Dream big and act on your dreams. Nobody will ever make your dreams come true except you. And if you can dream it, you can make it happen.
Thank you MIck, Keith, Charlie, Ronnie, and the rest of the band!