Berlin, Madrid, Belfast and now for the 4th time I was requested by the fabulous team over at MTV to be house photographer out in Frankfurt covering the European Music Awards. My particular assignment revolved around flying out 3 days before the actual event to cover the nuts and bolts of the build up in addition to the show. So, with a Lufthansa ticket in one hand and 40 kilos of equipment upsetting my equilibrium in the other, I flew the red eye out of LHR T1 to Frankfurt.
After tackling this job a few times before and not really eating or sleeping for four days due to captioning and distributing hundreds of pictures to various platforms MTV and I insisted we needed a bit of extra editing help. And thus, I was accompanied by the fabulous and achingly cool Field Editor Brigit Green to do the honours. I can't tell you just how much difference this makes on a complex job with a huge shot list to run back to the press office to drop your cards off to some very capable hands and rush back out to continue shooting.
First off, I chipped off a portrait of the set designer Florian Wieder. I guess I was supposed to be shooting the set build, but I couldn't resist it. It is wise to grab opportunities when the subject, an idea and time are all in your favour. I know from experience that if you don't it is almost certain you'll not get chance to get another crack at it. Then came another portait of MTV presenter Louise Roe. Kinda tricky as I had to shoot her in location, but couldn't give too much away about the set, as the shots were due to be distributed way before the event and I wasn't allowed to give away key design elements in advance.
Rehearsals aslo factored into the shot list, so I ran down to the arena and was practically blown away by the light show. By the Friday morning, I bumped into a bloke on the main stage calibrating the lasers that were going to be used as Muse performed on the centre stage. Sitting there with a laptop he was aiming the lasers mounted 20 meters above playing card sized computer controlled mirrors on the edge of the stage. These would then move in sequence to Muse's performance bouncing the laser light around the arena. Far too cool for school.
Form a photographic point of view one of my fave bits was stumbling across the dancers running through their choreography complete with huge disco mirror balls. occasionally, they'd catch the powerful spots that were playing vertically down from way, way above the main stage and explode point light through the pitch dark haze-filled arena. Needless to say I was galvanised, hypnotised and almost fell over myself rattling off an extended salvo of shots hoping to get something a bit different. As soon as this part of the show morphed into the next, I was again frantically trying to record one of the most beautifully colourful things I've ever witnessed through the viewfinder. To a backdrop of a 60 foot high video display the dancers whirled iridescent batons whist dancing their butts off, silhouetted by the light. Stupendous stuff. It looked like the kaleidoscopic opening titles of a Bond film on amphetamines.
I had exclusive access to shoot No Doubt for MTV on the Friday night at a pretty small venue called the capital club. Really chuffed that these guys are back and an honour to shoot them up close. The light was excellent as it usually is when there's TV involved. So, in the pit there was just a couple of camera men and me doing stills. With the Redferns part of Getty Images concentrating on shooting the music I don't really do much any more - which is a good thing - mainly as I did music to death a few years ago but I still enjoy getting a good set of a decent band.
On show day, the cavalry arrived as Team Getty Images landed to help me out for the big event. So with Andreas, Dave, Kevin and Jeff and I all shooting, we had the show comprehensively covered complete with a crack team of editors to move the content, Clement from the Paris office who provide a seamless network and Vicky and Dawn to sort the politics and ensure everything met with the client's expectations. As showtime approaches the usual "Event Time" kicks in and the hands on your watch whiz around way, way too fast and, subsequently, 6 hours go past in a little under 10 minutes. Due to the lights being a bit dim to capture energetic performances on slower lenses I ditched the 500mm f/4 and 200-400mm f/4 in favour of the 400mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/2.8. With my recently blagged third D4 I was able to keep a wide handy for the flame-throwers and pyros.
After failing miserably over the last few big jobs to accompany Chris from the video department to various after parties I finally agreed that I'd go out post-event for a beer and, in the course of the evening, drank with the dancers, MTV staff and talked nonsense and danced until 5am. Really so grateful for an afternoon flight home the next day.