Behind The Collection - How I Shot My Concert Photography
I never used a tripod, and with a concert allowing limited time to photograph I had to be able to move swiftly with the camera. If you have ever witnessed Mick Jagger cover a stadium stage from one end to another you would understand. There were no second chances. Remember that this was pre-digital. Your film could become corroded. It could rain. Ozzy used water hoses and would spray you and the crowd. I had to deal with weather, pyrotechnics, rude security, band managers, and artists who sometimes would give me the finger and even spit on me or kick me on the head during the shoot. I witnessed riots, bottles being thrown, and you name it.
Every photograph that made it onto this expansive list is a small miracle in it’s own way.
I often could not sleep until the day after I had waited for the film to come rolling down the machine, while my heart was racing, as I saw the first shots of Bono, Madonna, or whomever. My photographs have been published in so many magazines, newspapers, some books, and has even been used in VH1’s Where Are They Now series. They have even been used by The Wall Street Journal which did not feature photographs and then they would pay for a photograph of an artist opening a tour and then have the photograph turned into a drawing. A man once bought hundreds of my photos and used them for bootleg CD’s which were sold in stores in the 80’s worldwide. Once I lent some photos to the Nutbush Association, a Tina Turner fan club. Later on, I got out to use a couple of different rest stops in Tennessee and I realized that the 6 foot portraits of Tina Turner inside the buildings were mine and it quickly dawned on me how they got there. I could have sued the state of Tennessee but I instead just requested that they give me credit at the bottom. Frankly, I lost track of the publications which have featured my photography. Most of my life I was based out of Orlando, Florida so my photos were often featured on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel’s Calendar section. I did shows in cities all over the world selling signed copies of my photographs. I supplied many artists with photos for their studios. I wasn’t even surprised if I saw my photos on t-shirts in stores in Las Vegas. People wanted them and they were in demand. Some of my biggest buyers were guitarists who purchased my massive list of guitar gods from Van Halen to Randy Rhoads to Pat Metheny to B.B. King and you name it.
- Don Lawver