Styx holds a place very near and dear to my heart. Being the first band I remember ever seeing live in concert at around the age of 3, there has always been something special connecting me to the band and music. My parents would take me and my younger sister to concerts quite frequently because kids used to get in free under a certain age.
Also back when the Virginia Beach Amphitheater opened, they had 10 dollar tickets to almost every show, so even after we out grew the free option, they dragged us to more concerts because it was cheaper than paying a baby sitter. If it was not for my parents bringing us to so many shows at a young age, I might not have the same appreciation for music that I have today.
Over the span of my life time, I have been to about 20 or so STYX shows and counting. Seemed like practically every summer they would roll through Virginia Beach and without fail, I would be there rocking out. Once I got old enough to go without my parents, I would drag 3 or 4 friends each year and some may have known a song or two…and others had no idea who STYX even were. By the end of each show we were all arm in arm singing “Come Sail Away” or “Renegade”.
From a photographer’s perspective, this is the type of show we dream about. The lighting is impeccable with an abundance of bright, vibrant colors decorating the entire stage, and spotlights on each member of the band. Ever since I got interested into concert photography, I immediately wanted to have a chance to cover these guys at least once. 2015 was the year everything came full circle for me and it was one of the best days of my life. The sense of accomplishment of setting a goal like that, and making it come true is something that can’t be fully described in words. I was in such disbelief that the band who was my first concert ever, and made me fall in love with live music, approved some kid to shoot pictures of them playing in my town.
What made it even better was the fact I had my parents at a show I was shooting, for the first time. I had told them stories of what I was doing and showed them pictures to go with, but to have them be there to witness me in my element, was a whole different ball game. I am forever thankful for the crew at the VBA for helping to fulfill my request to get my parents seats right in the general admission pit, behind where I was working, so that they could take in the moment as well.
The sense of pride and accomplishment I felt that night was something I will never forget as long as I live. Nothing like making your parents proud of what you are doing and striving to make a hobby into something way bigger. The smiles I saw on their faces when I was walking out of the photo pit after shooting, were better than anything I could have wished for.
Fast forward 3 years to 2017 and I was lucky enough to get a second chance to photograph STYX in Tampa, FL . This show was significantly different though for a multitude of reasons.
I am incredibly fortunate to have a girlfriend who has the same hobby and loves concert photography, as much as I do. This show we were able to both shoot together and it was truly spectacular. I don’t really know how to describe it but there is something special about pursuing your passions in life with a person who understands it and loves it just as much.
Being that Florida weather is unpredictable, Lizzy and I got caught in a downpour heading to the stage to shoot STYX. The rain put the show on delay for a half hour or so while we stood in our designated area, like drowned rats, awaiting the bands to run out and start the show. Even after my second shower of the day, I still had an incredible time and got some of my favorite shots of this year thus far.
Knowing the stage set up pretty well, and having every song memorized, it helped to be prepared for the action shots like the shot of Lawrence Gowan (keyboards) above.
He is by far the most animated of the group and always plays it up for the cameras a bit, which makes for the best pictures.
I am so blessed to be able to take pictures of so many bands that I love and capture a piece of history at the same time.
One day I hope that I will get to meet the guys in STYX and thank them each in person, for getting me hooked on attending concerts and for practically providing the soundtrack to my whole life.