Photography is something I’ve always done, but until recently never taken seriously. I started out teaching myself product photography when I was 17 as one of the early adopters of the handmade ebay/etsy store movement. I realized editing dozens of photos became a bore to me, so I put my camera down for years and focused on modeling until now. The past 7 years I’ve lived in Austin have been very good to me, and I’ve been privileged enough to be involved with a lot of really cool events that deserve being photo-documented (mainly because I’ve lived through so many amazing times, I’m beginning to forget some).

Being a musician myself, it just makes sense for me to shoot live shows because I feel I may have a perspective that typical photographers may not possess. My equipment right now is minimal. VERY minimal. Shooting concerts with a low-end 50mm portrait lens is very limiting, but the upside is it causes me to work harder.

With a fixed lens, I don’t have the luxury of zoom, so I’m forced to fight my way up front often times; which as a small person, isn’t that tough mostly. In fact, part of my style comes from the desire to show people what it’s like as a concert viewer under 5ft tall. There will be arms, heads, phones in the way, but sometimes it frames the band nicely and adds depth. I call it “creative obstruction”.

I digress.

Euphoria is a festival I’ve always wanted to experience. It’s also the only Austin-based music festival I had yet to attend, so I took a box office position this year in hopes to get some good shots of the headliners. EDM is really not my thing, but I’m open-minded.

The “vibes” as they say (I’m almost reluctant to use that word since I heard it over 9,000 times over the week at the fest), were nothing short of kind and positive all around. The staff, the concert-goers, even the security company who are usually kind of d*cks at every other fest that I’ve seen them; all very polite and helpful. This is also the only festival I’ve seen that has a crew of volunteers who’s job is to literally hang out with the crowd and make sure everyone is having a great time.

I only expected to be able to get shots from the audience level, which is not a bad thing, but I can’t always guarantee I’ll make it to a reasonable distance from the stage at a large festival; but I managed to obtain an Artist and photo wristband. My last experience in the photo pit came to an abrupt end when I was shooting for Anti-Flag, and made the rookie mistake of not formatting my SD card before the show. Whoops. This time I was prepared.

I was looking forward to shooting Young Thug. A bit mainstream for my taste in hiphop, but he’s a big name and I knew he’d be entertaining. An avid fan who also made his way to the Artist lounge saw my boyfriend and I sitting at a picnic table that was coincidentally in front of YT’s trailer, and asked us if we had seen him walk in or out. He wanted to barge in and smoke with him – we advised against it. The guy took our advice and found someone who seemed to be a tour manager, and they actually granted his request. I thought I’d never seen anyone happier that night until it was time for Young Thug to take the Elements stage.

A guy back stage who was very adamant about keeping his head and face covered during the show (probably a staff member who didn’t want to be recognized) expressed to everyone that he had plans for something during YT’s set, and sure enough, halfway through the show he jumped on stage and did what appeared to be a 1-2 minute choreographed dance routine on stage next to the rapper, before finally stage diving at an awkward time and falling flat on his face. I think we’ve all had that happen at least once in our lives, in fact, my elbow still hurts from the 2016 Summer NAMM show in Nashville.

I’d also caught Chromeo – an act I’d been listening to for years thanks to my first tattoo artist who used to jam them and Ghostland Observatory during our sessions. I had since grown out of Chromeo, but was hoping their live performance would entertain during the 2015 Fun Fun Fun Fest. I was not impressed. Maybe they just weren’t “on” that fall evening they played, but their performance at Euphoria left me very much astounded, and I don’t think I have to mention how photogenic the duo is.

Moby is someone I grew up listening to. Being a teen during the 90’s-2ooo’s, it was hard to miss him. I was curious how his performance would be since he’s over 50 now, but I never thought I’d see him live in my lifetime so I would have been happy with anything. Moby proved he really is the father of techno/EDM. He was vibrant, energetic, in shape; stopping every few songs to jump all over his table and run across the stage. He was genuinely having a great time unlike Knife Party, who’s music I enjoyed, but struck me as just a typical EDM DJ.

And he’s wearing a Black Flag shirt? Moby won my heart that night.

The final headliner of the weekend I was excited to watch for the antics alone. Wiz Khalifa and Young Thug had this in common; great stage presence. I also have a great amount of respect for Wiz and his team for their marketing and branding efforts. The guy is just about the first thing you think of when someone brings up weed and its current culture.

He even had a few RAW + Wiz Khalifa branded 6 ft inflatable blunts he threw into the crowd.

If you’re interested in seeing some additional shots from this event and others, check my photography album on the front of my site, and follow Static Stills on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Prints are available as well – just shoot me a line in the contact form on this site.

//Holly Jee