Photographer – Awesome Experience Shooting Frank Zappa Festival

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Zappening Festival (2000)

The Story

Background: The fact that there was a Frank Zappa music festival within 100 miles of my house was extraordinary enough. Zappa isn’t really on the mainstream playlist in Central Illinois, so the idea of getting that close to a Frank Zappa festival was special. The fact that through a friend I would be asked to photograph the event was nothing short of miraculous (with full access pass). It just so happens, Frank Zappa is perhaps my most formative musician. I jumped.

Photography done simply (tongue in cheek)

Filming Technique: Before the days of the pixel (and several after), I used to shoot “analog” film. Everything for the festival was shot using a simple-metered, fully-manual Pentax K1000. Think minimal. I believe the daytime shots were done on a low-speed slide film and Ektachrome 400 for the night shots (which was hardly sufficient). A digital camera would slay the exposure on these images. After processing, they were scanned to disc in a low-resolution format. It was considered printable at the time.

…it became obvious I wasn’t getting paid. They weren’t going to make any money and that was that.

– Author

So… What Zappened: The first night was booming with headliner acts. It was a camping festival and no open flames allowed, strangely enough. So, after the show, there were hundreds of “heads” running around in the dark blasting their favorite Zappa music from all directions.

The Festival ran for 3 days. As I watched many people leave Saturday morning and not be replenished with concert-goers for that day/night, it became obvious I wasn’t getting paid. They weren’t going to make any money and that was that.

Upshot: So, I shot all the film I had for 3 days and decided to pivot to fun oving festival goer and enjoy it. I was left with a great experience as a fan, a great experience as a photographer, and 3 nights of summer camping. Well worth the price of the film…

Let me know what you think!