I’m a believer again
Felt so empty but here I stand
Ashes and dust are on my hands
But I wash it all away before I do my dance
Falling off the edge I can’t live to make them all feel better
I would fail myself
Read it on my face, I’ve been waiting for this day
Cause I made my way through hell
Take it or leave it
The lyrics are from I’m Back by Jada and obviously I do not know what the lyrics that Jada wrote really are about, but to me they seem fitting for this concert; and they are fitting for the entire music and event industry that are finally able to work again after two years of hell. And trust me, the crowd in front of the Orange stage was ready for Jada to be ‘back’! Jada was originally booked to open Roskilde Festival’s 50th anniversary edition on the Orange Stage in 2020, and had to see this gig, and possibly the same gig in 2021, disappear due to the covid pandemic canceling all festivals for 2 years. So finally, in 2022, festivals are back, and after 2 years, Jada could finally walk onto the Orange stage and this time, not to open it in the daytime, but to play a huge 1am peaktime show as an Orange stage headliner!
For me, my gigs at Roskilde Festival 2022 started Tuesday evening and the Jada concert was at 1am the night after Friday. There is just no way to not have this major concert in my mind all the hours leading up to it and time seems to slow down and make me more anxious the closer I got to the show. Fortunately, the second I get backstage and meet Jada and the entire crew they just make you feel so welcome and happy and all my worries are replaced by smiles. This is going to be amazing because everyone is amazing and it is just up to me to make great pictures and return all the love from Jada and the crew that I know from the gig at KB Hallen last year. This was an incredible and emotionel concert. I am not a writer and don’t have the proper words to describe it, but let me just say that normally I am incredibly focused on what I am seeing and making the very best pictures I can, this automatically means my other senses get less attention. With this concert, all my senses were firing in a completely uncontrollable way and I just had to roll with it all, embrace it. It was just so magical, so heartwarming and so moving. It also has to do with the whole feeling of inclusion and ‘be yourself’ I feel from every person involved in this show, it just makes you feel so safe and happy. I shed a few tears, I had goosebumps, I smiled, I laughed, I was blown away. Thank you so so much to Jada, band, crew, dancers, managers, everyone! What an honour to be a part of and document this incredible concert for you all! <3
Jada on the Orange Stage photo gallery
Are you on reading this on your phone? Sorry, that won’t do, you need a bigger screen to appreciate this concert and my pictures! Thank you 🙂 After the gallery you can read much more about my experiences photographing this concert, but for now I suggest playing Jada’s latest album as a soundtrack and then let’s start by walking to the Orange stage on Friday 1 July 2022 at 12.40am, 20 minutes before the concert begins at 1am.
Photographing Jada on the Orange Stage
Documenting large scale shows like this brings a lot of challenges and opportunities. And the pressure of wanting to make the very best pictures, and only having one chance, there is no second attempt the day or week after! I was a mixture of incredibly excited and nervous, which you have to be, not too much so it blocks you but just enough that you really concentrate every minute. Fortunately I have a lot of experience at photographing large shows and there some factors that help me perform at my best:
Preparation. The key to performance and creativity, at least for me. The list of shit that can go wrong and you as a photographer can cause during a big show is long. Anything from you missing parts of the show (pyro, guest features etc) because you didn’t prepare to getting stuck during the show at some door you can’t open, getting lost (entirely possible if you don’t know the route on and off stage, into the pit, to the b-stage etc), getting in the way of the artist, dancers or crew, falling off stage, stepping on stuff, breaking gear (yours or others) and all of the above combined in one big nightmare. The good news is, you can make sure most of this does not happen by simply being well prepared! I suffer from anxiety and corona lockdowns made this 50 times worse, so it’s necessary for me to neurotically prepare all details to ensure my brain doesn’t fixate on it during a show causing a meltdown. While you may not need this level of preparation, you need to be more prepared than you think. You cannot improvise this big a show. And you know what, being prepared means once the concert begins you can just focus on making awesome pictures because you have done all the work. You have spoken to security, you know your way around the stage, off the stage, into the pit, to the b-stage, back again, you know the setlist, you have notes for when major things happen (request them from the tour manager – thank you Daniel!), you have seen where dancers enter and exit the stage (so you won’t be standing in that opening!) – you are prepared so you are ready to perform at your very best level. Everyone else on stage are awesome at what they do, they have rehearsed and prepared over and over so just be like them!
Gear. An important part of preparation as well of course. Make sure your gear is in top form, you have spare batteries with you, a spare camera etc. I used my trusty setup of 2 x FUJIFILM X-T3 cameras and this time with 3 zooms, XF16-55, XF50-140 and XF10-24mm. I like the look of prime lenses better but for these huge arena style shows, the zooms are much better suited as there only limited spots where I can stand and they are often at the side of a very wide stage or down in front of the huge and tall stage with the artists a fair distance from me. I can’t rely just on zooming with my feet using prime lenses, so a lens that can zoom is necessary. I have really come to love the XF16-55mm lens, it’s outstanding. I need the awesome XF50-140mm lens for close-ups but it’s just a bit too big and heavy for me to ‘disappear’ while handling and shooting with it. I don’t like when the tool calls attention to itself for any reason, the tool should be transparent in use. The ultra wide angle zoom XF10-24mm (the new OIS version) proved perfect for the wide shots like the pyro and the end of concert pictures from stage with everyone together, thanking the crowd.
Patience. Not every single second during a concert needs to be documented. You need to observe as much as you shoot. If you shoot non-stop when will you ever have time to think about where you are standing, where they lights are and you can’t anticipate the next great picture opportunity. You need to pause, look, move, shoot, pause, move, shoot. Predict, don’t chase (that sounds Yoda-ish but it works!)
Love the music. And pour that love into the pictures! You are photographing the love and power of music and that includes your own love of what you are doing, what you are documenting. That love will show and make the extra difference in your best work, believe me.