On the road by day, on the stage at night: this is the life of tour photographer Grady Brannan. A master at capturing the uncontainable energy of the most popular performers and their audiences, Grady has shot for Flosstradamus, Martin Garrix, Big Gigantic, RL Grime, Dillon Francis and many more artists, he also works for publications such as Thrasher Magazine, Billboard Magazine, Insomniac, and Rolling Stone, and is currently documenting the tours of G-Eazy and A-Trak.
How did you get your start in photography?
I got my start as a kid growing up shooting photos of skateboarding in Santa Cruz California. It started as a hobby, quickly turned into a passion and it kinda grew from there.
How did you passion for photography evolve to incorporate a resume of artists including DJ’s, rappers, bands, ect…?
I worked prominently as a nightlife photographer in San Francisco from 20-11-2013… during that time, the EDM bubble really began to blow up. Through that, I naturally becamee friends with many DJ’s who came to San Francisco to play like RL Grime, flosstradamus, Dillon francis, etc. To be honest, I was basically at the right place at the right time…hustling.
Who were the first few major artists you’ve worked with? What’s it like shooting people of that caliber?
I started working with many artists before their careers really unfolded. Through the nightlife scene, I was fortunate enough to build relationships with artists as they were growing. I made a point to maintain loyalty with these artists as they grew and always made myself available when they needed me. Maintaining those relationships eventually built friendships with DJ’s, managers and other people who worked within the music industry. Those decisions opened doors for me to grow as an artist myself. Dillon Francis, RL Grime and Floss are some of the acts I had the pleasure working with early.
(Dillon Francis, Martin Garrix, DJ Snake)
How have you seen photography in EDM evolve over the past few years?
I could go on a very long rant about this but for this interviews sake, I will keep it short and direct. The photography scene is fucked…Its over saturated, everyone wants to do it, and not always because they want to actually be a photographer. Every kid wants a free pass to a festival and a chance to meet their favorite DJ. With all of them working for start up edm blogs or abstract college newspapers, requesting passes to cover festivals makes the job of a publicist very hard. Publicists nowdays have to weed through emails and sort out what they think are credible photographers or reporters to work with…. with that being said it makes it very difficult for the people who are passionate about what they do to gain the access they need. The internet and need for social media content has completely altered the value/need for photography. I am not saying it is all terrible, but it has added a whole new level of competition. I feel that is is very difficult now days for the ones who are actually passionate about shooting photos.
How has photography changed the way we visually perceive DJ performances?
It is a way to document what happened so that others can feel like they experienced it, but with that being said, makes it a very important factor with how shows are produced. Often times the visuals, lasers and lighting you see at a show is strategically rigged for photography and video recording to document the show, while still providing an optimal “in-person” visual experience.
Any solid up and coming photographers in the EDM scene you’ve noticed lately?
I always see Jon April, Alex Abaunza and Joey Vitalari out at all the shows and festivals I go to… those kids hustle super hard and I’m always stoked to see them.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who are looking to get more involved in dance music?
Don’t push your limits when it comes to getting on a stage or getting backstage… Put in your time, shoot from the photo pit or soundboard and shoot it well. Focus on doing your job documenting the show and the production. That is what these artists work hard to produce. At the end of the day, that is what they want to see photos of. Perfecting the skills of correctly documenting a show the way the artist wants it to be is what will get you the jobs in the industry. There will be plenty of time for small chat and portraits of DJ’s when you are established for doing the job you are there to do well… It comes down to basic fundamentals of growth, be patient, do your job, hustle hard and Invest your time wisely.
(All photos courtesy of Grady Brannan Photography)