Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
“There have been times when Bans will be on these huge festival stages and would just jump off the stage, and he would look at me like he’s expecting me to jump, too. I always have to jump, and if I fall, it’s whatever. You have to get the shot,” Maya told REVOLT.
How did you link up with Yung Bans?
I reached out to Yung Bans last year when he had 20,000 followers on Instagram. I hit him up like, ‘Let’s work.’ He responded back hours after like, ‘Pull through to the studio.’ I ended up pulling through to the studio a couple of days after. We did one shoot at the studio and he was like, ‘You’re going to be my photographer.’ From there, it’s been history. Now, I shoot all his album covers, huge shows, and festivals. He has a tour coming up.
His popularity is fairly new. So, what are his fan reactions like?
The coolest reactions are when we’re coming back from a show weekend and his fans are at the airport. It’s the coolest thing to see people at the airport waiting for Bans. He’s a normal kid. He’s my best friend.
When it comes to shooting him live, what sort of shots do you look to get?
When he’s in the middle of the stage, I love going behind him with a wide shot and getting the whole picture. I wait for when the fire comes up or something legendary to happen. Bans is such an iconic and timeless kid, you don’t know what he’s going to do at a show. He’ll always be stage-diving. A Bans show is one of the craziest shows. It’s legendary.
What’s one song from him that you know you’re going to get a great shot from?
‘ILOVEITWHENTHEYRUN’ with him and XXXTentacion. The crowd goes nuts. There are mosh pits. The song gets you going. It makes you want to run through a wall or something crazy. I remember at the Rolling Loud show... he performed that song. He was onstage performing and then he just ran into the crowd. He had so much energy. That’s why it’s so much fun shooting him. He has tours coming up. He just got off house arrest.
How did him being on house arrest affect your working relationship?
I’m not going to lie, it was probably the coolest experience ever working with someone like that and has trouble doing stuff. It was so cool seeing how this kid blew up on house arrest. Once I started talking to him, I realized he was a lot like me with social media stuff and branding himself. I shot the album cover for Vol. 5. We shot it in his bedroom. People thought it was shot in a photo studio when it was actually shot in this little condo in the middle of nowhere in Georgia.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve done at a show to get a shot?
There have been times where Bans will be on these huge festival stages and would just jump off the stage, and he would look at me like he’s expecting me to jump, too. I always have to jump and if I fall it’s whatever. You have to get the shot. I love running around with Bans in the photo pit.
Earlier you said Bans was your best friend. What are memories you have on tour with him that show that friendship?
That’s my best friend. I’ll hit him up and we’ll go bowling together. We’ll go to arcades. Bans looked out for YNW Melly’s younger brother when Melly went to jail, and Bans always takes him to Dave & Buster's.
Who’s the better bowler?
I’m way better than Bans. He’s trash (laughs). I know that for a fact.
What’s usually on Bans’ rider?
Condoms, Gushers, towels. He's like a kid. We’re all like kids running around. He likes his junk food.
You also shot Kodie Shane, and her shows have produced some of your best photos in my opinion.
Thank you. That’s the first-ever person I shot with. I knew Kodie before she was Kodie Shane. I went to a concert in Atlanta and Kodie opened up for Rich the Kid. She was lit, so I emailed her manager — her mom. I wrote, ‘I would love to shoot with Kodie some time.’ This was when she didn’t have that many followers. This was when she had 50-60k on Instagram.
Her mom hit me up after that inviting me to shoot a concert of hers. After the show, I had to catch a flight to visit my family in Milwaukee. The concert was my first time meeting Kodie. Next thing I know, I get a text from Kodie saying, ‘I really loved the pictures. Do you want to come to L.A. with me next week?’ She was the one who took me to L.A. for the first time in my life. We have a special bond. That’s like my sister.
What’s her personality like off-stage? How does that translate to the stage?
She has so much energy. Her energy is like Bans. I don’t really like being around people if they don’t have really good energy or good meaning. She’s really loving. Her family is behind her and really welcomed me into their family. She’s always hype. She always wants to work on her career. She’s always in the studio late-night. She doesn’t sleep. She’s always working.
What shots do you look to get from Kodie when she performs?
She has this crazy tattoo on her hand and I love detail. So, she’s always sticking out her tongue and her hands. She’s always doing something crazy. She’s really a model. She could be a huge model if she really wanted to. But, she focuses on her music, which is fire, too. It’s really easy to work with Kodie because she’s used to posing and doing photoshoots.
You had some really good photos of Gunna and Future at [Rolling Loud]. How’d you get to shoot that?
Bans is working with Future, so it’s like family. Ever since I started working with Bans, they started looking at my photos and they reach out. So, now I do a lot of stuff with Gunna. He loves posting my work. I just started shooting stuff with Future.
As a photographer, you’re sometimes allowed in private spaces. How do you know when and when not to take pictures?
I’ve been in so many situations where I can take a legendary photo and I just don’t do it. After Bans dropped Misunderstood, he went to dinner with Future. I could’ve been shooting the craziest photos there. But, you need to know when it’s time to lay back and when it’s time to have fun at the moment. Artists are normal people who don’t want to be taking photos all the time. I just feel it out. I don’t ask too many questions. I do not shoot someone I meet the first day. I want to build a connection with someone.
What is Bans and Future’s relationship like off-stage?
That’s Bans’ big bro. When I’m around them, Future’s always giving him advice and looking out for him. He looks out for all of us... just showing love.
Being a young photographer, do you ever run into people in the industry who use your age against you?
A hundred percent. I still don’t feel like I’m getting the respect I deserve. But, I’m going to work towards what I want to work for. Cam Kirk is my mentor and really looking out for me. I really appreciate him for that, but I know everyone respects him because he put in the groundwork. I feel I still haven’t put in the groundwork, so I don’t really have a reason to be upset about not getting the respect I deserve. But, I’ve done some major things in my career that can help me grow.
What is the business side like for photographing an artist at live shows and photoshoots?
You have to build your brand. Don’t just build just your photos. When I went on tour with Kodie Shane and Yachty, they started posting my work, but I wasn’t getting much out of it. When Yachty posted me on his Snapchat, one day a fan at one of his stops came up to me and recognized me. So, I was like, ‘Damn, how can I get more people to recognize me and my work?’ I started posting photos of myself. Every single night with Yachty and Kodie were tagging me, people were starting to see my face. That’s when this brand called Journeys reached out and I started to do this campaign for modeling.
You have to perfect your talent and your art because an artist will see right through [you] if you just have a camera for the clout. You have to focus on the art and really come at them with some really dope ideas. I’ve seen so many people pick up cameras because they wanted to be around the artist and it’s so obvious to point out.