Last summer, I had the opportunity to hop out with the guys in I Killed the Prom Queen for a couple of weeks, going from Dallas to Long Island, NY (and then flying up to Chicago for just one more weekend with the crew). Warped is definitely a different animal compared to the run I did in the winter. But I loved it, as hectic as everything was, it's so rad to be able to see so many bands every single day. Plus, shooting in daylight every day really opens up the opportunity to shoot more film. It's also definitely a challenge trying to create different looks and new framing when most days, you're shooting on the same stages in super similar light. Then again, there are also days like Nashville where a midmorning storm turns the area in front of the stage into a massive mud pit.

When I was 16 and going to Warped for the first time, I never would have guessed I'd be spending two weeks of my summer ten years later out on the road with friends on the tour. It wound up being a damn amazing experience, and one I hope to be able to repeat again soon.

SBSW8 // Dallas

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of photographing South by So What?! for the second time in two years and to photograph some of my favorite bands that I've never had a chance to shoot before, as well as make some new favorites. Even through some tough weather on Friday and Saturday, with pretty consistent rain coming down both days, the bands put on unreal shows, from Circa Survive and La Dispute, to Vanna, Capsize, Harms Way, Unity, Lydia...Frank Iero...and more. There were a lot. And it was an amazing experience, even if I did spend two days soaking wet and trying to keep my cameras moderately dry.

So yeah, I took some photos, some on film, some digital, all of the live and behind the scenes photos are here in the beginning, with all of the portraits at the tail end of the post.

saosin // dallas & austin

Seven Years. Pretty rad coincidence that one of, if not the, most popular songs written by Saosin when Anthony was still singing in the band is also the number of years it had been since I had seen them perform (with Cove singing, of course). When I saw these dates coming through Texas, I was pumped. After seeing the dates on the coasts previously and wanting so badly to be able to make the trip out to see them but not being able to, and then getting to see them just a couple of miles from my house with a last minute confirmation. It  was pretty rad. The set list was everything you'd expect it to be; Translating the Name EP, all of it, including Seven Years as an encore, plus Mookie's Last Christmas and a few rad new songs the band was giving a go made for an awesome hour of music, taking me back to late high-school and early college years when all that mattered was going to shows, singing along, losing our voices, and dreaming of what the future holds. Music is pretty cool like that - transporting you back seven, eight, nine, ten years in a heart beat, feeling like you did the first time you heard these songs.

It gets cooler when, after the show and posting up a photograph on Instagram, you see a message from a friend who happens to be in town in the next city (Austin) saying you should come down and shoot the show again. So Jordan and I loaded up in the Mazda with a few more rolls of film and trekked down I-35 to catch Saosin once more, this time at Emo's. The set list was practically the same but I didn't care. I'd been waiting years to see these songs performed that I was more than happy to see and shoot the set again. It was another awesome night, wrapped up with a slice of pizza from Homeslice with Jordan and John (who had suggested we come down) and a long return trek home up 35 in the middle of the night. A long day, to say the least, but these are the things we do for music, and these sort of experiences. I wouldn't give that weekend back for the world.

Enjoy the photos, let me know what you think, how music has effected you, you know, cool shit.

And, if anyone is curious what these photos were photographed with/on: a Pentax 67 with a 105mm f/2.4 lens, a 5D with a 50 mm lens, and a Leica M4-P with a 35 mm lens. Films were Ilford 3200, Tri-X, and Portra 400.

eternal summer // vans warped tour 2014 // dallas, tx

Shooting warped has always been an interesting event - it's hot, sweaty, crowded, all the things that can make shooting super difficult (not as difficult as, say, pouring rain or freezing cold, but Texas heat is brutal). We lucked out this year, Warped coming through in mid June and some pretty awesome weather were major blessings to make shooting infinitely easier. And anything that makes shooting easier is a big plus. I got to shoot a lot of bands I really look up to, hear some new jams, see a lot of old friends, and shoot some bands I generally don't get to shoot, or don't get to shoot in anything near usable light (while I love the light at Warped, it can be a drawback with so many photos looking so similar because they are [generally] all in the exact same light.

Photographer nerd time:

I shot film at Warped again for the first time since 2009 this year on a very new to me Canon EOS 3. Probably not my brightest idea to shoot an untested camera in a scenario like that, but fortunately, the camera was in pristine shape and took some images that really blew me away. It was nice to shoot some 35 mm film again, this time on my own terms. 2009 I had my shutter fail in my sole digital body and was forced to shoot the remainder of the day on my 1N, rationing five or six rolls that I had planned to use for fun to shoot the rest of the day. That's pretty much when I got hooked on shooting film, and something that showed me how even shooting 35 mm film can shift your way of thinking, composing, shooting. It's not necessarily slowing down, but it is being more thoughtful about the image. Knowing I have a fixed number of frames I can take, that there are no do-overs, no deletes, no chimping, it all runs through your head. For me, I think I shoot better when I'm in that zone.

Bands included above:

Terror // Real Friends // The Story So Far // This Wild Life // For Today // Every Time I Die // The Ghost Inside // Close Your Eyes // Four Year Strong // Stray From The Path

cody // lifestyle portraits // deep ellum, texas

It's been a minute since I've blogged much of anything (apparently I haven't been here since I blogged 8:18 in December...shit.). So, let's try this again. Maybe I can commit to this thing again, at least for a while. I shot a few weddings over the summer, and those are in the pipeline to be blogged here, as will at least one more set of cycling photos, some music, but I figured it would be best to make my prodigal return to blogging with a some super recent, personal work, that I shot this past Sunday on one of the first driveable days in Dallas since Cleon/the Icepocalypse of 2013/the shit show of a debilitating ice storm that seemed to cripple most of North Texas (myself included - Jordan and I were holed up for Friday and Saturday, not leaving for much of anything, and only leaving to go places within walking distance. Thank God for Stackhouse and All Good Cafe). Once I realized the weather was going to clear out a bit for Sunday, I reached out to one of my best friends, Cody, to go shoot around while we were blessed with the borderline Pacific Northwest light, a huge change from the norm here, and take some portraits down in my neighborhood. I'd like to think it was successful, especially for only have an hour or two before we were feeling frozen to the core and trying to get everywhere on foot. [start=rambling] - if you just want to see the photos, don't feel ashamed to fast scroll through this massive block of text.

Over the past couple of weeks/months/whatever, I've noticed I've struggled to be super excited about editing images, maybe it's the borderline-daunting task of culling 3000 frames from a wedding, 1000 from a race, or borderline burnout, but I just wasn't chomping at the bit to get home, plug cards in, and dive into Lightroom like I used to. That sucks. A lot. After Jordan and I took a trip out to LA for our anniversary (you can bet your ass I'll blog that soon, probably...maybe...), I realized that one of the biggest things I had been omitting from my photo work over the last two years was to just go out and shoot to shoot. Take a photo because it might look cool, but there's nothing riding on it. The only person that would be bummed out would be me. So, over the next year, I'm setting a goal for myself to simply get out and shoot what makes me happy. Weddings do that, to an extent. But I've thoroughly enjoyed going out and shooting concerts again for friends, portraits of friends and/or cool looking people. Shit like that is always fun and doing it on my schedule/when I want to couldn't make for a more laid back shoot. I like to keep it mellow whenever possible, even though I think I thrive on high-pressure situations, sometimes you just need to chill the fuck out and have a good time.

This is me chilling the fuck out. Not worrying about the next wedding I'm gonna book, or the next magazine that's going to call, or who's senior portraits are going to land in my lap. What am I worried about? Shooting the shit that makes me happy while I work on getting stronger on the bike, take care of the 8-5, and do photos at my own pace, on my own time. This isn't me swearing off wedding work, or other commissioned work. Not in the least, just a friendly, written reminder to myself that I need to throw in some personal to mix with the professional. And let that show to you, if only to have my work seen by someone other than me.

Second: I had some serious struggle with wanting to be focused SOLELY on photography, getting to live the life if you will. I got bummed out every morning driving to work because I wasn't about to go to a shoot, couldn't ride my bike whenever I wanted during the day, couldn't stay out until 2 or 3 shooting shows. In my mind, that can be living the dream. But then I had it pointed out to me that I am living the dream, just a little differently than most would probably define it. Yes, I've got an 8-5 job as a mechanical design engineer, photography is not what puts food on my table right now. But I'm not spending my Saturday afternoons sitting at some department store trying to figure out what area rug represents me as a person. I'm not spending my Monday nights sitting in front of a TV living on the edge of my seat of who is going to go home on whatever reality show is big right now (I will, however, freak the fuck out over a Cowboys/Stars game, in a heartbeat). I'm getting up and spending my Saturdays riding a bike for 60 miles, not because I have to, but because I want to. I want to push myself in new ways. I'm going out on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights to shows, hanging out with friends, banging my head, taking photos if I want, screaming my lungs out to bands I've been listening to since I was seventeen years old, and some bands that I've been listening to for a few days. I'm going out and taking photographs. Fuck it. I am living the dream. It may not be your dream, and it may not be my ideal dream, but I am. I'm doing everything I want to do, I just occasionally need to remember that I am currently in the confines of a day job. But shit, how cool is that? I fucking work from 8-5ish, every day Monday-Friday, but then I get to go see some friends living their dream on tour, see a new band I've never heard of before. See friends I haven't seen in years, maybe make some new ones who don't give a shit about what college I went to, majored in, or what my day job is, they just want to talk about music. I go and race a bicycle in lycra. Yes, the lycra matters. Why? Because I want to push myself harder than I ever have. I love being challenged and I wish I had embraced that more playing sports growing up. I get to track my performance, improvements, gains, with metrics that are dependent solely on how hard I am willing to work that day. How much energy I want to pour into it. Not Google Analytics, not flickr stats, not instagram or facebook "likes." I am in control of how hard those pedals get pushed and how fast the wheels turn. I get to take pretty cool photos of fucking awesome people in different ways, all the damn time. I've got my passions, and thankfully, they mesh pretty damn well with how I live my life. That. That is living the dream for me. I'm going to stop rambling now. If you made it this far through my train of thought, unedited, unreviewed, ramble of writing, laced with run-on sentences. Props. I probably wouldn't have made it through half of it. So, to go with those props, thanks. Seriously.

Cody Dressercody dresser