Celebrities, VIP Access, Back Stage Passes…one crazy night

Let me warn you, this past Friday night wasn’t your typical Friday night.  Well, unless you’re famous…or part of the press…or an agent…or a sound tech guy…you know, one of those.

I’ll start this story at the beginning.

A couple weeks ago I get about 7 text messages in a row from our cousins, the Flemings.  They went like this, ‘call us’, ‘hello’, ‘where you at’, ‘answer us’, ‘it’s important’, ‘CALL US’, ‘YOU’RE FIRED’.  You get the jist.

So, I call them.  ‘What do you want?’

‘What are you doing Friday, September 21st?’

‘Uhm…probably working on orders.  Why?’

‘We need you and your camera.’

‘Uhm…ok.  But why’

‘We’ve been hired to shoot an event at EMP (Experience Music Project in Seattle) and we need another photographer’.

‘I’m not a photographer’.

‘Ya, but you know how to use a camera and you know how to focus’.  (They’re so nice to me.  They own Fleming Photo Studio…check it out)

‘I’m in.’

That’s how it started.  A couple days later, more phone calls, more texts.  Details, details, details.

Let’s fast forward to the good stuff.  Friday.

Cathy picks me up and we head down to meet Randy and the rest of the ‘hired help’ at the EMP, who have been there since Thursday setting up. Cathy and I roll on in and there’s just a tad bit of nerves going on.  We have a few hours until go time so we get a tour of the EMP, I meet a lot of people (including Ted and Casey who work for Flemings), and get the run-down of how the night’s going to play out.  Oh, and we get in-ear CIA official head-sets.  Wow.  Now I felt cool.

See the little curly wire behind my ear?  You can tell I’m bored, can’t you?

Guests were scheduled to start arriving on the ‘purple’ carpet around 5pm.  They wanted us to shoot different places around the event so Cathy headed to the main entrance where the limos were and I started shooting them walking into the building.  Randy ate donuts and played solitaire on the computer.  Or was it minesweeper?  I can’t remember.

Ok, not really but he and Ted were sitting behind their computers uploading our pictures as they came in, editing them and splashing them across a couple big screens during the event.

About a half hour early, guest started to arrive.  Nerves…again.  But let me tell you, these guests knew what to do.  They were all dressed up and ready to pose and have their pictures taken.  We took pictures for quite a while and then before we knew it, it was time to come in and get ready to shoot the main event.

All of a sudden (ok, I actually volunteered to go up there), I was ushered up to the VIP lounge on the 4th floor, which overlooks the stage.  On the stage was none other than Danny Gokey, from American Idol, warming up.  The natural thing to do is hang over the balcony’s railing, try to get pictures of the top of his head, right?  Well, I’m doing this when some ‘VIP’s start coming in.

Uhhhhh…what do I do?  Just start snapping pictures of them drinking their drinks and eating their fancy food?  I guess, right?  So, I start shooting away and I focus in on some guy and start clicking.  After about ten pictures I think to myself, ‘Gee, he looks familiar’.  I discretely pull out my phone and google who I think he is.  I’m so classy.

Phone in one hand, camera in another…here I am trying to look professional while confirming that yes, that was Steven Baldwin .  Insert heart racing…palms sweating.  Not because I have the hots for him or anything, but come on…it’s Steven Baldwin.  His brother is Pete Schweddy!  (sorry).

So, I take some more pictures and then realize I should hang over the balcony again and get some pictures of Danny.  After a couple shots, Mr. Baldwin is standing right next to me.  Oh. My. Goodness.

I’m sure he didn’t notice the weirdo sneaking cell phone pictures.  If he did, oh well.

 I play cool (har har) some more and make my way around the lounge to get some more shots of important people , doing important things and then head on down to switch my memory card with Randy for a new, blank one.  This is about the time the concert is about to begin.  Let’s go back stage to get some pictures of the crowd from the view point of the performer.

There I am, back stage while Danny performs, while the president and founder of Solavei speaks, and then Cee Lo Green performs.  I’m excitedly taking pictures when someone says, get on up there and take pictures from onstage.

‘Really?  I’m allowed to do that?’

‘Sure, why not?  Just don’t get in his way’

‘OK!’, I basically scream because I’m so excited.

Here comes Ms. Sneaky, with a monster lens (you know, to look the part) and I take those steps one at a time.  Next thing I know, I’m kneeling on the front of the stage snapping pictures, I’m hovering behind the guitarist getting that viewpoint, I’m basically anywhere but in their way.  Such a rule follower.   Well, that is until I’m doing an army crawl with a giant camera and all of a sudden a roll of tape comes flying at me.  Ooops.  Apparently, I was in the way of Cee Lo’s sound guy.

‘Oh no!  I better get out of his way!’

After the celebrities did a couple songs, we had to shoot their ‘meet and greet’ out by their trailers.  More pictures, more moments of me freaking out because I couldn’t get my flash to work, more sweating and shaking.  At one point, Steven was just standing there, so I just HAD to jump on in and have Randy take our picture.

He just has a ‘look’ doesn’t he?

The last part of the event was a longer performance from Cee Lo.  I was smart and got on the opposite side of the stage this time and managed to get some great shots.  I like this one.

Cee Lo is a fantastic performer.  He had the crowd going and he was so much fun to watch and listen to.

If you’re still reading this novel,  congrats.  I’ll get to the end.  Basically, I was taking pictures with the Fleming team well into the night and I had an absolute blast.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Pretty please!??

HUGE thanks to Randy and Cathy for offering this experience to me!!  You guys are the BEST!