On Friday, May 15, I spent the day crisscrossing the football fields at UCSD photographing the 2009 Sun God Festival. The festival is the biggest event of the year thown by the student body and this was going to be no different. A main stage and a dance hall tent would be going from 1pm till 11:30pm.
The lineup this year for the main stage was

  • The Theory of Funkativity
  • The Cool Kids
  • Augustana
  • Iron and Wine
  • Grand Ole Party
  • Sara Bareilles
  • Motion City Soundtrack
  • N*E*R*D.

I did not shoot NERD since I needed to be at the airport at 5:30 am on the 16th to fly to Seattle to shoot at the Gorge. That post coming soon. The Dance Tent featured Rootbeer and Girl Talk, both acts I was asked to photograph.

Let me talk a little bit about Girl Talk first, then I will get on to the photos. Girl Talk is Gregg Michael Gillis, a 27 year old ex-engineer who is known for very wild live performances. Thats were the problem came up. Security decided at the last minute (literally about 1 minute before show time) that there were going to be no photographers in the pit for the Girl Talk part of the show.
They were worried that the show would get out of hand and either we would be in the way or get hurt.

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

As you can see from the 11 security people, they were going to take no chances with the crowd getting to the stage and no place for us photographers.

Now that I have out of the way, lets go back to the start of the day and the young band The Theory of Funkativity. I really like shooting young bands that bounce around the stage and have a ton of energy. It keeps me on my toes and thats a good thing. These four young kids played a very tight set and offered some great rock star type photographs, especially Michael Perl on guitar, who bounced all over the place.

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

Next up on the main stage were The Cool Kids. A hip hop duo who presented the first real photographic challenge of the day. How to expose correctly for a very bright sky, a very white shirt and dark skin? I went with manual exposure and overexposed the cameras recommended exposure by a stop to a stop and a half.

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

It was much easier to shoot wider and have both performers and crowd in the shot, because I could set the exposure mode to shutter priority and the metering to center weighted and meter off the performers. Worked like a charm.

Next up was Augustana, a band with a lot of San Diego ties and it showed. The crowd in front of the main stage had been growing steadily but when these guys took the stage people started to stream towards the stage from every corner. These guys have the look and the sound and I figure that it won’t long till I’ll be shooting them on a headline tour.

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

UCSD SunGodFestival 2009

There is more, but i am going to save that for a later post.

for a gallery of all the images go here.


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