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Switchfoot. A favorite band of mine since 6th grade (that’s a while ago for those who don’t know me!), when I saw them at “Festival Con Dios” and they were just a 3 piece band.  I don’t know what to say other than to tell you the story of the following images and try to indeed (I hate these words) “capture the moment” that was this cold, rainy day in Seattle.

As many of you know, this summer I was the official head photographer for Creation Festivals (East and West), as well as Sonshine Festival. I was gone for almost a month shooting promotional material at each festival, in many different parts of the country. The job definitely came with some perks. I met and conversed with almost every main stage act at these festivals, every night. I even had Eli, the lead singer from The City Harmonic, make a video for one of my friends. This wasn’t to appease some starstruck misguided selfishness, or to prove something to these bands that I was something I wasn’t. The goal of talking with each band and getting to know them was to help explain how I would photograph them and because they loved these festivals (Creation Festival is the largest Christian music festival in the US, and most of these bands’ largest audience), they were excited to help.

Switchfoot was a mainstage act at all three of the festivals. At Creation East, I wasn’t able to chat with them because I was working on some different perspective shots around the festival and preparing for the candlelighting/fireworks that would close out the night. I was disappointed, enjoyed them from afar.

Two weeks later, at the next festival in Minnesota (Sonshine), Switchfoot was doing their soundcheck (early afternoon, when no other bands are scheduled and most fans are at other activities) and I was just checking them out from side stage, getting a few fun shots. This was a cool enough feeling to make the trip thus far very worth it. I was on stage with them as they worked out technical things and arrangements of their set. My attention peaked when I learned that Jon Foreman (the lead singer of Switchfoot) was sound-checking the drums. It was one of those cool moments where if I didn’t have a photo, people would think I had my band members switched up in my mind (I’ll post the photo soon). The band went through the soundcheck and walked off stage as usual. As they walked off I said hi to Jon, Tim and Chad and told them they sounded great. They went through pleasantries with me and asked about my camera. I told them my position with the festival, gave them my card and told them I’d see them at Creation West the next week.

Later that evening, they closed that night at Sonshine before they would fly to New Orleans for a show the next day. I went about my business in Minnesota the next few days then flew to Seattle for my final festival of the summer, Creation West.

Seattle was rough. The weather was, Seattle-like (rainy and cloudy) which put a damper on some of the big marketing shots with skies and sunshine. It was also the last festival of the three, so there was a lot of pressure for everyone to do a great job. On the second to last day, I was in our office area editing. Below our office was the artist-lounge area which at the time of this story, is where Switchfoot was hanging out. The time between their soundcheck and when they were set to play is a few hours, so I imagine they were getting stir-crazy/wanting to explore a bit. They came upstairs and Chad Butler (drummer of Switchfoot) and bassist Tim Foreman walk up to me and greet me as if we’ve been lifelong friends. They both stepped in to shake my hand and give me a hug, then Chad said “Hey Adam, how’s it going?”.

Really? Chad Butler, drummer of Switchfoot remembers my name, greets me like he knows me and wants to know how it’s going? It’s going great, now! (I was actually having a rough day due to the weather, and technical issues with the team I was in charge of).

Me: “Things are good, how’s the festival season with you guys?”

Chad: “Good, good man. What are you working on?”

Me: “Just working on some personal edits right now, getting ready before I had to the mainstage.”

Chad: “Great man. Can we see?”

Me: Reluctantly “Sure man!”

Then I showed Chad and Tim some of my Exploring Seattle series, as well as their stuff from Sonshine Festival. 

Chad & Tim: “This is sweet man. We love it!”

Me: “Well thanks guys! I’ve got to get ready for mainstage so I’ll see you guys tonight.”

I packed up and then headed out to my car. I started organizing my lenses and packed my bags and such in the backseat of my rental car. I hear someone shouting my name. It’s Chad, he’s running towards me and asking if I have a quick second. 

Chad: “Hey man, so you’re heading to mainstage right now?”

Me: “Yup. Trying to make something out of this weather ya know?”

Chad: “Yeah, yeah. So what are you doing right this second?”

Me: “Nothing really I suppose until the big bands go on. ”

Chad: “Cool. Listen, we were supposed to have a photoshoot here but our photographer can’t make it. If you have a second, would you mind shooting us, even if it’s just for a few minutes? We love it here, and you’re here so we want to take advantage of it.”

I can’t even speak. I’m stuttering like a certain few southern preachers. I finally mutter an answer.

Me: “Well, right now? Sure. Let me go tell my boss and I can let you know. ”

Chad: “Great. Let’s exchange numbers. Text me to let me know what’s up”

WHAT?!

Me: “Sounds good. ”

I get in my car while trying to act normal and drive up the path to mainstage. I can barely utter the words of what may possibly happen in the next few moments to my  boss. She understands the few words I get out and says yes. I then think to myself “I need someone to come with me to make sure I don’t make a fool of myself” (This is usually my second-shooter, Denny Archer), so I go and ask my friend Angee who was running press for the festival. I didn’t give her many details, but luckily she obliged. I texted Chad Butler that all things were good and I was on my way. I was nervous, scared, excited, scared, invigorated and compelled. We arrive, get out of the car, greet the guys and figure out where we’d like to shoot first. 

Now in this moment, it’s raining, but I’m not worried about my clothes or anything, not even in my camera gear. I’m deciding what exposure to choose. So many things are going through my head and my nervousness has taken over my excitement. Only thing I can rely on is my preparation for this moment and hope that things go well.

Words of negativity fill my brain “You can’t do this”, “You’ve only been shooting for two years! Get one of the other photographers to shoot it”, “You’re probably annoying them, hurry up!”, “You could have worked harder for this moment” and I try to block them out.

I took a deep breath, gathered the guys, and said something to the effect of “Alright guys, it’s party time”. And our first frame (the first photo) happened.

Boom! Hilarious, candid, and a pretty good exposure. In this moment I felt a sense of peace. I knew this was my time . The rest of the shoot (about 50 minutes) went relatively smoothly and it ended up being a fun, and very memorable experience.

So that’s the story of how I got to shoot Switchfoot. In case you’re wondering, the boys like the photos and have all of them. They will choose which ones they’d like to use depending on the project, but it’s poor courtesy for me to post all of them, so I’m just posting a few of the fun ones, but I just had to share this great moment with my friends and family.

Take a look!

*Thanks to Gil and Angee for being awesome assistants that day!

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