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.’
Twenty-year-old photographer Apex Visions grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn often juggling her attendance at Chelsea High School [to shoot shows]. She’s been photographing since 2016, capturing artists like 2 Chainz, Dave East, Don Q, A Boogie, Cardi B, Offset, Hot 97 Summer Jam lineup full of others. Even with a budding career as a female photographer, some see it as an opportunity to challenge her stance in the industry.
“They try to take advantage and make sure I really know what I’m doing. So, at the venue, they told me I couldn’t record or take photos. I was like, ‘I came here with the artist. So I can really do that,’” Apex Visions told REVOLT TV.
For this installment of Tour Tales, Apex Visions discusses capturing tender moments backstage of Dave East and his daughter, how she juggled school and photography, and how her family views her career.
Was there a show where you had to juggle being in a school and shooting a show?
I used to do early classes the day before so I could go to the show the next day (laughs).
While shooting for Dave East, what is something that caught your attention as a photographer?
It was a lot of girls at his concerts. They just go crazy as soon as he comes out. ‘Phone Jumpin’ with Wiz Khalifa gets the biggest reaction or ‘Different Type of Time,’ everyone knows that one word for word.
You have great photos from Dave East’s ;Paranoia Tour’ of him with his daughter when she was younger. What were their interactions like?
He and his daughter’s bond is really nice. He shows a different side than he shows on social media. He’s really kind and caring. You never see him smile that much unless his daughter is involved.
You’ve shot Dave for the last two to three years. How has his stage show developed over the last few years?
He used to be very militant on the stage. Now, he’s comfortable. He walks around and interacts with the crowd. Before he used to have 30 people on stage and he would just stand there rapping [but] now he interacts with the crowd.
When you’re in the photo pit, how do you choose which shots you’re going to get?
I go based off the energy that the artist gives me. Any picture I take, I make sure I capture the energy from the whole show so you feel like you’re there.
You shot Dave East’s show at Irving Plaza in January 2018 when Styles P came out. What was that like?
It was legendary. I’m young, so I grew up listening to Styles P. Dave East actually looks up to Styles. They were in the studio the night before. They couldn’t wait to do this performance. They actually worked on a track after that. One of the songs ended up on their mixtape Beloved. But, they did two other songs that didn’t come out yet.
What are some cool angles you make sure to get for artists like Dave East and Don Q?
Every artist has their good side. So, I already know Dave East’s good side is his right side. Don [Q] is the upper left or I’ll do landscape photos. It depends on how they perform on the stage. If they’re on the left side I’d go to the right of the stage.
Are there any things that Dave does on stage that you’ve noticed are constantly part of his live show?
Dave East is [a] Crip, so he tells everyone to throw up three’s or thumbs up and everyone does it… I’ll usually be on the stage so I can capture everyone with their lighters up or throwing their hands up.
What’s on Dave East’s rider?
It’s always Belaire (laughs). Before he was sponsored, it was always Belaire and Pure Leaf [juice].
How did you link with A Boogie and the whole Highbridge The Label?
QP is the CEO of the label Highbridge. He was looking for a photographer. It’s funny because they came out on Dave East’s ‘Paranoia Tour’ show in New York. I stopped by and requested to take pics of them. Two months later, QP is looking for a photographer for Don Q so I DM’ed him and he told me to meet up with them, and it’s been cool ever since. Two days after I sent the DM I started shooting them for a whole year (laughs). It started in the beginning of 2018.
You were 19 years old. That’s incredible. What are the funniest things you’ve seen while shooting Highbridge?
They’re a lot younger in age than Dave East’s crew because everybody is basically 25 and up in Dave’s crew… So, they would do pranks on each other or little silly things like if someone is caught sleeping. You really can’t get caught lacking around them (laughs).
Are there moments where you know space is too private for you to shoot?
I know social media would take advantage of certain things so if people make a joke about another artist or if some people don’t like pictures of them smoking to protect their image, I won’t shoot it. Some people have children fan bases, as well. So I understand it.
What was the most memorable show you’ve shot for Highbridge?
The New York show at Terminal 5 [in March 2019]. It was sold out since the beginning of the tour. When the pre-sale tickets were available it was sold out. The line was all the way to the West Side Highway and it was cold outside (laughs).
What are some celebs or big names you’ve seen backstage?
If it’s Dave East, usually Nas comes out to most of his shows. He usually shows up on time and greets everybody who’s there.
What’s your best talent as a photographer?
My turnaround time, honestly… so learning quicker how to edit and what to do with the photo as I go helps. I always rush to edit the picture just to learn.
The mark of a great live photographer is knowing how to adapt. What are some things you had to adapt to at a show?
My first show with Dave East my camera [battery] was on 10%. I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood to give me a battery charger. I don’t know how I lasted through the whole show but I still ended up doing it (laughs). My flash didn’t work one time so I used the flashlight off of my phone.
What are some things you’ve learned that you do or don’t do now?
I always have a backup of everything in my bag. So whatever you see in my bag, there’s two of them.
Has there ever been a time when the police affected a show and made it difficult for you to do your job?
I wouldn’t say the police did that. I would say the people own the venue usually gives that trouble. Once we’re in, we’re in. It’s not really a problem but, the owners of the venues or if it’s sponsored by another marketing agency, they don’t want you to be in certain spaces they need to be. So, I can’t really capture from the pit and would have to be on stage.
You also did the Smokers Club Festival in 2018. Who smoked the most weed backstage?
Smoke DZA, honestly. He smoked the most. At the festival, they had this huge blunt. I don’t know who rolled it. It was at least three pounds [of weed] and they just passed it around to everyone… They would just stop people like, ‘Yo, hit the blunt.’ Everybody was high.
As a young woman, do you ever face any obstacles because you’re a woman photographer [in the industry]?
Yeah, they try to take advantage to make sure you really know what you’re doing. So, at the venue, they told me I couldn’t record or take photos. I was like, ‘I came here with the artist. I can do that.’ They thought I was a random person walking in and out of the pit whenever I felt like it or they’d say after three songs I’d have to leave. Now, I know I can stay the whole time in the pit. In Providence, R.I. I was shooting A Boogie and Don Q where no one could go in and out of the pit. So, it was up to if the security remembers you or not (laughs).
How does your family feel about your career?
At first, they weren’t into it. But, I guess, now they’re shocked that I’m always going somewhere. I’m never in a normal place. I’ve probably had one regular day to myself in about four or five months. No days off.
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