Who is Phoenix The Band?
I spend most of my time taking photographs, playing video games or hanging out with my wife/friends. I don't read TMZ. I don't watch MTV. Now that Breaking Bad is done, my TV consumption is limited to Game of Thrones and Gold Rush. I have only seen two films in the theatre since Avatar. I don't read Rolling Stone, Alternative Press or the Spin Magazine. Basically, I don't give myself much opportunity to learn about pop culture or to experience the hip tunes that the kids are listening to (unless NPR suggests it).
Despite being intentionally ignorant about pop culture, I am not so deep into my hermit's hole to have escaped the name Phoenix. Several of my friends praise the rockers' discography and have spent good money on concert tickets to see the Frenchmen live. Yet, despite hearing the band's name, I had not actually heard Phoenix. This is my fault. The internet is at my fingertips. I blame the aural absence of Phoenix on the fact that I am, at times, very pretentious and tend not to listen to something simply because the rest of the world does.
When I was given the opportunity to shoot the Phoenix show this past weekend, I jumped at the chance to capture the concert in Seoul. The event would get me out of the house, force me to improve my low-light photography skills and allow me to hear Phoenix. I packed a bag with the essentials (Canon 5d Mark III, Sigma 35mm prime, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 red ringer and my trusty 6 inch prism), grabbed my good friend/fellow photographer Alex Lopez-Barton and headed to a parking lot outside of Seoul's Olympic Stadium.
As with most concerts, the light level went down and the energy level went up. And there they were... The indie rockers from Versailles that I had heard about. I did not become star struck nor did I waste anytime clicking the shutter. I shot all that I could in three songs (ten minutes), for that was all that the event's security would allow.
With the shoot complete and the camera back in the bag, I didn't think about the editing I would have to do. I didn't think about the corndogs, tandori chicken or kabobs that were on offer from the plethora of vendors. I simply watched a concert and finally got my chance to hear Phoenix. I now know why there is buzz about this band. They're awesome.
In the late spring of 2000, long before I became a photographer, most my friends packed their swimming trunks and coolers of PBR to head to the beaches that dot the east coast. In droves, they hopped in vans to make the drive from Tennessee to rented condos, hotels and motels. As I packed my bag, I felt a small pain knowing that I would not be going with them to experience the certain debauchery that is senior beach week. However, I knew that my senior trip experience would be just as memorable.
For the next weeks my grandmother Betty McLain (pictured) and I had our own version of debauchery getting wasted on some of the best sauce the world can provide: Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland, Catherine's palace in Russia, the cobblestoned streets in Poland, the fjords of Norway, and the flowers that line the many islands of Sweden's Stockholm. Sure enough, moments into our trip, I had forgotten about the wet t-shirt contests, beer pong tournaments and drunk tank stints that I was missing.
Fifteen years later, I am now beginning to understand what an incredible gift it was to spend the summer before university with one of the most interesting, intelligent and giving women in the world. This summer my grandmother gave me another gift. She let me photograph her holding one of her most priced pieces of jewelry (my grandfather and grandmother's wedding rings that are saudered together).
May is complete madness. Every year it seems that I try to cram a decade's worth of crap into a single month. What it seems like I don't do in May is spend a lot of time with my wife Laura. Perhaps I feel that I can wait on the quality time with the wife, push it back to June when we begin our summer together without the pressures of work or a social calendar.
Time with the wife is important, even if it is May. But what I am going to do? Not shoot? Being a guy who likes to have his cake and eat it too, I decided that there was only one solution, shoot with Laura.
But quality time with Laura wasn't enough. I am also trying to cultivate a bromance with fellow photographer Dylan Goldby. So, what seemed to be a date night with my wife simply turned into a four-way with an Australian photographer and an inanimate object (Canon EOS 6d).
Nothing says romance (or bromance for that matter) like an urban ghost town. Behind Guemho station lays a desolate, bleak scene. Cormac McCarthy could have very well walked through this urban glass field and gained his inspiration for The Road. Twisted metal stretching upwards, rusted tin stoves, calendars bearing eviction dates, playing cards, magazines, golf clubs and baby cribs remain. Basically, Guemho is more romantic than Venice.
So, if you are a Seoulite looking for a hot date in May, take your gal (and another dude) for a tetanus filled rubble romp. It is sure not to disappoint.
What I learned from this unusual date?
1) Collaborating with other photographers is grand.
2) A little broken glass shouldn't stop you from entering a building.
3) Abandoned structures are indeed the best places to shoot..
4) My wife is the prettiest woman in the world.