Interview by Yising Kao, Photos by Elliot Ingham
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy
What inspired you to start doing photography?
I started out playing in bands & hanging at friends’ bands shows. My friend’s band at the time, ROAM, was looking to shoot a music video for a new song “Head Rush” I hadn’t directed a music video before, but wanted to give it a shot. They ended up getting signed to Hopeless Records off the back of the video and not long after that, they got their first major tour offer from Neck Deep, and they asked me if I wanted to come with. So, I kind of just had to learn on the job really.
How did you end up working as Fall Out Boy’s photographer and videographer? Were you a fan of them beforehand?
Yeah of course I was, who wasn’t an FOB fan growing up? Their team reached out to me asking me if I wanted to come work for them on their US Mania headline. I think they found me on Instagram. Then after that tour, they asked me if I wanted to stick around and just do the whole world tour.
On tour, you shoot the same show every night, but you still get a variety of amazing shots! How do you constantly explore new creative ways to shoot at each show?
Pete told me once that if you brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, it stimulates the side of the brain that is responsible for creating new ideas, or something like that. So, I do that on occasion when I’m feeling a little stuck. But also, I actively put myself in positions throughout the day that are the exact opposite of what I want to do naturally. So, if my mind says go to the back of the room, I go to the side of the stage, and if I want to turn right, I turn left, if I want to use an 85mm, I use a wide and so on. So, I constantly am challenging my own thoughts and habits, I find that really helps me shoot interesting photos and keeps things exciting on long tours.
You’ve also shot photos of other artists such as Halsey and Against the Current. Do they reach out to you or vice versa, or do you typically do freelance work for publications?
Halsey’s photographer Peter had reached out to me asking me to cover for him last minute at some shows. And that’s usually how most of my work comes about. I tend not to reach out to people. I like working for people I know mutually; It has always worked for me, so I just keep it that way. I don’t do a ton of work with publications. Usually my printed press comes straight from stuff I’ve shot for the artist directly. Working for magazines usually requires executing a brief, or somebody else ideas, which isn’t a strength of mine.
What’s one piece of advice you wish someone would’ve told you before going on your first tour?
Bring less gear. Travelling light and always having a camera on you. Never go anywhere without it. And you’ll be fine. And I guess don’t get too caught up in the fun, touring is exciting, but you’re there to work, not just to hang.
In addition to photography, you’ve produced music videos and tour recaps; your shots and transitions flow so seamlessly. What’s your process of planning and editing a music video/recap like? What type of shots do you like to get at shows?
Thank you, that’s very kind. I don’t plan anything typically. I shoot when ideas come to me, and I put all my footage in one massive timeline, and I hit play. I watch it all and put aside the best bits, and then I construct an edit around that. I know that’s not how a lot of people like to work, but I’ve found shooting based off of intuition works best for me. And I’ve been very fortunate in that most of the artists who I have worked with have been comfortable for me to work like that, and have trusted me.
What advice do you want to give to aspiring tour photographers/videographers?
Show face at local shows and take an interest in that. Reaching out to massive bands asking for work doesn’t work, and if it does, it’s 1 in a million. Practice, practice and practice more. You only get one shot at touring, so you don’t want to rush into it. And most importantly, have fun with it. Don’t try to shoot something you’ve seen that has worked for another band. Try to shoot by combining your ideas with the image and desired aesthetic of the artist you’re working with in mind, and hopefully it’ll result in something original that will be cool for both parties.