Suspekt is a legendary Danish hip hop group, formed way back in 1997. I have actually only photographed them twice in the past decade, but I knew their music and certainly their status as wild and awesome live performers, for example on the Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival 2015. When Suspekt announced they were playing Parken Stadium in 2023, I thought “that makes perfect sense, they can put on a party the size of a stadium”.
My second thought was “I hope I get to be a part of this project, I have so many experiences from The Minds Of 99 at Parken 2021 that I would love to share!”. Well, you are reading this because I did and I am so grateful for this experience! I will dive into all the details of planning and shooting the concert after the essay, I really live for working on big productions as part of a big skilled team and this was a wonderful experience. The band, the crew, the production, everyone worked at a very high level and I am continually impressed by the quality of Danish live music productions. I work 80-100 concerts a year, and the Danish bands and production crew are often on level with or outshine the bigger international acts.
Suspekt did absolutely put on a stadium sized party! But it was also so much more, it was a celebration of Danish hip-hop culture and Suspekt’s long history, from forming the band as teenagers in 1997 to now playing the largest hip-hop concert ever in Denmark, celebrating 25 years of Suspekt with 47,000 fans in Denmark’s national stadium. It was epic! Suspekt would say “It can still get crazier” – and I believe them – but still, this was quite a peak moment for the band and all the fans! You also have to remember that for everyone here, this is a big ‘first’, first time for the band and production to play Parken stadium and first time for all the fans to see their favourite band at the national stadium. This really adds to the experience, to the emotions and makes it a very special one-off event for everyone!
A massive thank you to Suspekt band and crew, especially William Green and Jonas Friis, and United Stage and the photo team. It means a lot to me that you trusted me to be part of this project.
Suspekt at Parken Stadium 2023 – my point of view
What you see is my point of view of the concert, there are obviously a lot of angles I did not shoot such as from all the grandstands at the side and back of the venue, other still photo team members were covering those angles, that is the beauty of having a team in a large stadium. Now I suggest you to play some Suspekt tunes and then I will let a selection of my pictures tell you the story of the concert.
Photographing Suspekt at Parken Stadium
What a fantastic gig to be part of, I am so very grateful! I am very ambitious with my music photography and I basically try and live my professional life as if I was a pro concert photographer in the 80s and refuse to acknowledge the (very real) fact that you can’t really make a living of being a music documentary photographer anymore especially not in a small country like Denmark. I am stubborn, this is what I want, what I love, what I have pursued for more than 10 years. Music is Life (plug, watch the movie) and documenting bands playing concerts is what I live for. I am mind blown and humbled by the fact that this madness paid of and made me part of planning the photography of not 1 but 2 concerts at Denmark’s national stadium, the only 2 Danish headliner concerts at Parken Stadium in the past 7 years. I do not take any of this for granted, these are very special once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I wish there were more of these large scale productions in Denmark, I love working on them and using both my project and team management and photography skills in one job.
Ever since I worked for The Minds of 99 at Parken in 2021 I have obsessed over and over about everything that I learned from that project. I wrote down all the things I wanted to improve if there ever was a next time I would be working in that stadium, and I kept running it over and over in my head, honestly going a bit mad. So I was very thrilled and grateful when I was hired to help Suspekt lead photographer William Green plan and document Suspekt at Parken stadium. One, I knew this would be a great fun and epic event to be part of and I love huge productions but also most importantly, I finally get to make use of all of this knowledge from last time at Parken stadium and do something good with it! This stadium was built in 1992 for well, sports! It is in so many ways such a difficult venue to work in, so many things you have to solve and figure out that you never have to deal with in dedicated concert venues/festivals.
The still photo project was kickstarted with an initial production meeting a month before the show, and William and I then received the show script and immediately starting planning the photo coverage of all the songs and moments during the 2+ hour concert. We also observed some of the production rehearsals to learn more about all the details in the show. In Arena and stadium sized venues I feel it is vital to have a detailed plan to ensure great coverage from all angles. You never want a situation where you have to tell the band “oh that mega epic moment, yeah we were all standing in a different spot, no one got it, sorry”. You want close-ups, wide angles, from stage, from the pit, from b-stage, from FOH of all the big moments and every feature. And this cannot be left to chance, if you let everyone freestyle you’d just end up with the entire team standing on top of each other in the pit or on stage. You need a plan and ideally you will know that plan by heart by the time the concert starts, but it is easy to get confused in the mayhem of 47,000 people and then the plan tells you what to do, where to be. I have made a lot of these photo scripts through the years but they get better every time. William and I worked so well together and our gorgeous multi-coloured spreadsheet plan (6 of them, one personalised for each photographer) ended up a thing of beauty! More importantly, it worked to perfection, the combined coverage of the entire team has great coverage of all peak moments, from so many varied angles all over the stadium.
William Green, Kenneth Nguyen, William Poyzer, Peter Kayser, Morten Rygaard and yours truly made up the still photo team, and a huge thank you to all of you, it was such a pleasure to work together! But my biggest thank you and respect to William, Suspekt lead photographer, a young photographer tasked with a incredibly exciting and daunting task, documenting a concert in Parken stadium and leading a photo team. It was such a pleasure working together William, you did an outstanding job and it was an honour to help where I could to ensure everything went perfectly, all obstacles to success removed. That’s teamwork at it’s best, each one making everyone in the team better. Everyone in the team must also accept that you are shooting one piece of the puzzle, you are not going to get to cover everything but when the teams work is put together, it makes sense as a whole. Good teamwork is such a beautiful thing and everyone did their part really well. I really loved helping William and the entire wonderful Suspekt family on this project, and it was an absolutely blast for me to photograph as well. If you want to see more behind the scenes, Kenneth Nguyen did a great vlog (in Danish) on his YouTube channel.
Finally, a few words about my own work from the show, the photo essay you saw above. Like the rest of the team, I of course also had a script with my part to shoot and based on that script I think generally I am happy with my work. It was a hectic 36 hours in Parken before the concert so I can tell I am a bit tired when I analyse my pictures, but there are a couple of shots I totally love and I finally feel I now I have a good grasp of working at Parken stadium. All pictures made with my 2 x FUJIFILM X-T5 cameras with XF16-55mm and XF10-24mm lenses.
I hope you enjoyed the essay and the behind the scenes look, feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Thank you to everyone and roll on 2024 and more Parken Stadium!