Taking Back Sunday: A Tale From The Photo Pit

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Camera charged. Lens cleaned. Press confirmation ready. All I needed to do was hop in the car and make the 2-hour drive to San Diego from Orange County. Now, I don’t make these drives for just any band. Taking Back Sunday has served as a pillar in my love for rock music as long as I can remember. Tonight’s show was extra special. Their current touring cycle is in honor of their 20-year anniversary – something not many bands get to celebrate.

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Last time I shot Taking Back Sunday, I was covering their show at The Observatory in Santa Ana, The Observatory North Park’s sister venue. That show had also sold out. I remember how crazy packed it was inside the venue – we photographers barely had any room to get out of the pit once our 3 songs were up. Needless to say, I was expecting the same for tonight!

I arrived early to make sure I got inside to catch the openers on this tour- Frank Iero and the Future Violents. Without getting too far into my music listening history, I’m sure we all know Iero was the guitarist in My Chemical Romance. Eleven-year-old me wouldn’t believe that we would get to see AND photograph his new band in addition to Taking Back Sunday!

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Only two photographers were in the pit alongside me for the first act. I was surprised by this, as well as by the sheer size of the pit at North Park. I usually compare the photo pit to a trench, but this pit was at least 7 feet wide! More room is always a plus as it gives more space to shoot from different angles and catch more action both on and off the stage. I used this basically empty pit to shoot from both close up and far away. A lot of red tone lighting gave a challenge, but that just meant I had to speed up the shutter and kick up the ISO a bit to be sure that the photos would capture sharp movement. Correcting red lighting was going to be for editing in post- something I’m more than accustomed to now!

Adam Lazzara-TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Adam Lazzara-TAKING BACK SUNDAY; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Once it was time for Taking Back Sunday to hit the stage, the venue was packed! More photographers had shown up now. This made me ultra-grateful for the larger photo pit. With a pristine multicolored neon of the band’s logo behind them, the performance was bathed in a blend of red, blue, purple, and yellow light. The first few shots I took had me concerned – there was a lot of back lighting action going on. However, I knew this would just take patience. I had to wait for the right moments to snap. I raised my ISO until I found where I needed to be, as well as continued to change shutter speeds with the different lighting schemes of each song. In addition to the band, I always try to keep an eye on what’s going on behind me – what are the fans doing?

Audience at Adam Lazzara-TAKING BACK SUNDAY-Observatory North Park; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Audience at Adam Lazzara-TAKING BACK SUNDAY-Observatory North Park; photo Lauren Ratkowski

If you couldn’t feel the energy in the room when TBS launched into “Cute Without The E”, I would think you were broken. The crowd immediately SCREAMED along (myself included!). I turned my back to the stage for a moment, knowing there were some great photos to be made of the audience. Once our three songs were up, I spent some time getting some more broad shots of the scene from the back of the venue. It felt amazing to see such a blend of fans, many of which had been there for all 20 years of the band’s history, still supporting and participating in the TBS community. Is there a better way for a band to celebrate?

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