This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to photograph the Imagine Dragons show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I've been shooting for an online music magazine, and I ended up shooting my shot and inquiring about this concert. Imagine Dragons was the first concert that I've ever taken pictures at, back in 2014, so I at least had to ask. To my surprise, my contact emailed me back saying that they were invited to cover the show, and that I would be able to shoot them. I screamed. I've never shot at an arena, so this was huge for me. Plus, Imagine. freaking. Dragons. After researching a bit, I learned that most MSG shows had their photographers shoot from the sound board, which is usually about fifty feet away from the stage. I panicked a bit, since I use my 50mm 1.8f lens for about 90% of my work. Luckily, I was able to rent a 300mm 2.8f lens with a converter and monopod for relatively cheap (a couple hundred bucks for a lens that easily costs over $5k) and I was set to go.
I got to the venue like 2 hours ahead of the scheduled time to meet the press person. I was under the impression that I'd have to wait in a long line with ticket holders, but the venue was pretty empty and I ended up sitting on the floor with my equipment for a very long time. When it was finally time, I picked up my ticket and met a group of photographers outside to get instructions. We were led down a long hallway where we waited outside the doors to the floor of the arena, and then we were led inside. But, we were walking in the opposite direction of the soundboard... towards the pit. My heart skipped a beat and I let out a sigh of relief when I remembered I had brought my 50mm lens as back up. I would've been completely screwed trying to use a telephoto lens in the pit, and to my surprise, some of the more Varsity-level photographers actually were screwed. One guy who shot for Getty Images literally asked me to trade lenses for a song. To be honest, I've always felt pretty amateur compared to other photographers in the pit, who use full-frame cameras and wildly expensive lenses, but this gave me a little boost of confidence.
Grace VanderWaal, the 12 year old girl who won America's Got Talent, was the opening act. I didn't have much expectation for her, but that girl was amazing. She had gone from that little girl with a ukelele to a queen. Unfortunately, like all opening acts, her lighting was terrible and I got very little good photos of her.
The show started with the quartet playing a drum line. After about a minute, the lights went out once again and before you knew it, Dan Reynolds was already on the edge of the catwalk of the stage singing Radioactive with all his energy and without his shirt. As a photographer, I usually focus on my art while these first songs are played, but this was a new experience for me. Even the first ten seconds of this song had me stunned to the point where I lowered my camera and just watched him, wide-eyed, leaning back against the barricade, with my jaw to the floor. Radioactive is easily one of their most intense songs, and Dan Reynolds being five feet from me singing at the top of his lungs and punching the air shirtless had me shook.
This was my third time seeing Imagine Dragons. I've seen a show from each of their headlining tours, and I've loved every single one. It's so hard to explain how emotional and powerful their performances are in such a short blog, but I'm just going to end this post saying that it is truly a privilege to see them live.
All photos shot for Baeble Music Magazine, using a Nikon D7500, 50mm 1.8f lens, 300mm 2.8f, and a 1.4x teleconverter. Edited with LightRoom, VSCO filter M5. Shot from the photo pit and from the GA floor.