Guest Blog: Photographing Bonnaroo for Red Bull, Day 1, with Music Photographer Brad Moore

Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series on music festival photography. Also be sure to check out Part 1: Equipment for photographing music festivals and Part 2: Camera setup and post-workflow for music festivals.

Bonnaroo Day 1

We started our first day the same way we ended up starting the last day, with a team breakfast at Cracker Barrel (we went to Waffle House on the last day). These breakfasts allowed us to relax in a relaxed environment and talk among ourselves, whether it was about life, photography in general or specific things about the festival. In addition, we were able to fill up with fuel to face the rest of the long day ahead of us. After breakfast each day, we had some time to gather and gather our gear before loading into vehicles to drive to the festival.

The Ferris wheel at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

My Bonnaroo Experience

Now let me preface all of this by saying one thing… I know my Bonnaroo experience was not of the people who were just there, nor of the photographers who may have covered it for a publication or media . , nor that of the people filming for the festival. So if you’re watching all of this hoping to find out what Bonnaroo looks like from a perspective other than covering him for Red Bull, it’s only going to be somewhat insightful. The passes I had allowed me to do certain things and go places others couldn’t go, but I also wasn’t able to do certain things or go in some places where others could not go. That said, here’s how my first day at Bonnaroo went!

When we arrived each day, we parked in the parking lot where we were designated to park somewhere behind What Stage (aka the main stage), then walked to the Red Bull production trailer. Inside the trailer there was a flurry of activity that included everyone from us photographers and our assistants to editors, producers and a host of other people that I’m still not sure about 100% of the roles, but I know they were more important than me. Suffice to say there were a lot of people working side by side in a relatively small space, but we all had a lot of fun together throughout the event.

The Lemon Twigs perform at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Preparing for the day ahead

Also, every day before leaving, I took sunscreen and sprayed it on myself, then dressed in the SpiderHolster belt and cameras with lenses (usually the 70-200 and 11-24. My assistant, Jordan, carried the ThinkTank shoulder bag with the 24-70, extra batteries and memory cards, etc., and a backpack with snacks, a clipboard with the model releases, band-aids and other random stuff.We also took cans of Red Bull in case we needed to stage shots for marketing and branding purposes.

Spectator enjoys Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

The first day gave me time to walk around the festival site to see where everything was, roughly estimate the walking time between stages and tents, and take some general lifestyle photos of the attendees before heading out. having to photograph artists’ sets. We did that for about an hour, finding people who were dressed, uh, interestingly, or just plain energetic and willing to pose for us.

Spectators enjoy Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

Stages and tents at Bonnaroo

A quick note on stage and tent names in Bonnaroo. It takes a while to figure them out, but once you do, you always get them mixed up because they are so confusing! They are the following:

  • What scene (main scene)
  • What stage (secondary stage)
  • This tent (I never even got to this one)
  • This tent (I spent a lot of time here)
  • The Other (formerly a tent, but this year became a stage and was the main venue for EDM artists)
  • Which step (the smallest of the steps)
Turkuaz performs at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

There’s also the Comedy & Cinema tent with stand-up comedians and films shown, sometimes with the director or star present to answer questions. And the Silent Disco tent, where a master of ceremonies plays and streams music through headphones worn by attendees, but you can’t hear anything without the headphones. And we can’t forget Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Barn, which is essentially home to a 24-hour rave.

The Orwells perform at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

For day one performances, I was mostly stationed at That Tent. I shot sets for Welles, The Orwells, Twiddle, The Lemon Twigs and Turkuaz. The only band I had toured before was The Orwells, so I had an idea of ​​what to expect from them, but no one else. The photo booths around the festival were all pretty decent sizes, but with the number of photographers there they were still pretty crowded. But not uncomfortably so. Luckily you could still move around to take pictures from different angles so I was happy overall.

Welles performs at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

I photographed all the sets I was assigned to, then when there was time between sets, I would go back to the production trailer to upload and edit, walk around to take lifestyle shots or take a lunch/dinner break.

The wrist of someone who needs to get in a lot of places!

Mealtime: Let’s eat!

For meals on site, Red Bull arranged for us to eat in the artist’s catering tent. Everyone at the festival has a wristband (or multiple wristbands depending on the access you are granted and so on). Each wristband has a different colored “belt” that contains an RFID tag that is scanned each time you go to different areas. The color combinations of the wristbands and their belts also serve as visual security guides as to where you are allowed to go. So when we went to the restaurant for meals, they scanned our wristbands and that let them know if we were allowed to eat or not.

The Lemon Twigs perform at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, USA on June 8, 2017.

End of day 1

I finished my last shoot a little after 2:30 a.m., about 12 hours after I started taking lifestyle shots around the festival. Once I downloaded, edited and downloaded, went back to my room, took a shower and got ready for bed, I fell asleep around 4:30 in the morning.


You can see more of Brad’s work at BMOOREVISUALS.com and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Leave a Comment