Photo: Garrett Bruce
  /  12.28.2021

Garrett Bruce’s camera has got him on stages with Trippie Redd, Smokepurpp, and Tyga, and in private areas most of us have never seen.

“I was in a room with Pete Davidson, Kid Cudi, Lil Pump and I believe someone else. I tried to get the portrait but Cudi said no,” Bruce recollected to REVOLT.

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the young photographer describes how Playboi Carti’s live show has evolved over the years, how dedicated Trippie Redd fans, and bouncing around islands with Tyga. Read below! 

Who was the first major artist you shot live?

I live in this town called Princeton, New Jersey where Princeton University is at too. One of the dining clubs booked K. Camp to perform. I remember hearing about it 30 minutes before it happened. I shot K. Camp and that’s when I realized that’s what I wanted to do. That was around 2015/2016. 

Who are some artists you were able to shoot live before they blew up?

I think the one that helped my career in the beginning was Playboi Carti in 2016/2017. When I shot him, he still had this mysterious Soundcloud vibe. People didn’t really get photos of him. When I would post photos of him, my engagement would go crazy. I went to his show, and compared to 2016/2017, it’s a crazy evolution. The music is the biggest difference. Back then, it was a normal performance. He’d pull up with his homies and rap on stage. Now, his stage design and image is nuts. 

What was the most difficult show you had to shoot?

There was a lot that was difficult being on tour with Tyga due to how some festival stages were set up in foreign countries and stuff. But, every show has its own challenges whether it be stage design, security or anything. At the Carti show I went to recently, he had the fog machine on the whole time and you could barely see him. Each stage has its own technical difficulties you have to figure out. This year in Chicago at Cole Bennet’s Summer Smash festival, I finessed my way on stage for Lil Baby, but the lens I had was not cutting it. I was yelling over the radio, “Yo, I need a 70-200 (laughs).” Halfway through the set, someone comes running over with the wrong one. Then, Cones brought me the right lens and I got some really crazy photos of Lil Baby. 

Lil Baby

Who was the first artist you went on tour with?

Smokepurpp. I had to get used to being professional. Back then, I was probably 17 and I got to travel with a rapper, see the world and have fun. That shit was crazy to me. I think there were moments where I could’ve been a bit more professional. It showed me how small the world is. Music can bring everyone in this world together. It’s crazy going to different markets and seeing the fans know all of the songs and be happy. It was dope seeing that.

What was the craziest show on that tour?

I think we were in either Poland or Denmark. I was a little kid, so they were making fun of me. Purpp brought me on stage to jump in the crowd. I jumped in and completely dropped to the floor (laughs). I think we did it one more time and they finally caught me. Also, at the show in Brooklyn at The Mirage, there was this guy about to jump the barricade and I put my hand out to stop him. But, the security guard thought it was me trying to jump off and pushed me into the crowd.

What was shots did you know you could get from Smokepurpp?

I just shot wherever. Every night was completely different and every venue was completely different, so I was getting these different angles. Me being random on that Smokepurpp tour helped out because I got some interesting shots I wouldn’t have got otherwise. 

Smokepurpp

You’ve had some candid photos of artists like Meek Mill, Don Q, 21 Savage and more. What are other candid moments you were able to be part of?

I remember seeing Kim [Kardashian] and all of the Kardashians backstage at “Saturday Night Live” with Ye. That was pretty crazy. I was in a room with Pete Davidson, Kid Cudi, Lil Pump and I believe someone else. I tried to get the portrait but Cudi said no. 

How did you shoot Tyga on his tour?

Armen [Keleshian] actually connected me with Tyga. I had to go get my passport renewed at five in the morning, and then two days later we were off to Mykonos. That was a cool experience. We were doing club shows and massive festivals, so I was able to figure out the set better. I could help plan out shots better. That’s when the quality of the photos came out better. One of the shots was for the first song when he was coming out and everyone had their cell phone lights up. There were certain cues in different songs where dancers would come out and do their solo sets, so I’d come out in front of them and get those photos. At the finale, if there was a bunch of pyro, I’d get behind him so you can get the crowd reaction too. 

What was the wildest show of that tour?

Malta was the first big show I did with him. They had confetti and it was nuts. That was probably one of the biggest shows I had been to because it was this whole island for this one show. All of the Dubai club shows were nothing like the U.S. They were 10 times as wild in comparison. 

Tyga

What advice would you give photographers looking to get into touring?

Purpp was my first tour and I really fucked with him and his music. The first time I met him, I got connected with his manager, so whenever he was in New York I would shoot him. Eventually, he asked me, “Do you want to come to Hawaii with me?” After that trip, he had a tour and we made it work from there. You have to build a relationship with the artist you want to work for. You have to make sure they’re comfortable with you. At the end of the day, you’re there to work and not to have fun. You have to show that to them. Building that relationship is really how it all started. 

You recently got off tour with Trippie Redd. What is his personality like off the stage?

He just chills (laughs). After putting out that much energy on stage, he just chills, plays video games, and then sleeps. I remember watching “Squid Games with him and his team. They were watching the last episode and I walked into it like, “What the fuck is this?”

What were you able to do on Trippie’s tour that shows your growth as a photographer?

Knowing the images and quality I wanted to get and planning out shots. I figured out his set after the first few days of tour, so I knew where I had to be. The first shot I posted of the tour on my Instagram is one of my favorite live performance shots. I got that shot because I knew he came down toward the front of the stage on this set and this is when the cryo goes off, so this is going to be a good shot. I also knew how to be professional but still have fun so people felt comfortable with me. 

 

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What are some interesting fan reactions you’ve seen at Trippie’s shows?

I think some of the most touching ones are at the meet-and-greets. They’ll ask him to sign their arm so they can get it tattooed. I remember we saw the TikTok of the fan who actually got where he signed his arm as a tattoo

What do you have coming up in 2022?

I’m super excited. I’m working to solidify my brand. One big thing I’m working on is doing a workshop with my friend Brett [Gray] who runs Soho Youth Club and we’re going to do a few around the country. We’re going to find five to 10 kids, get them all cameras, and take them around to teach them some photography. I’ve been wanting to do that forever. Hopefully, I’d love to surprise the kids with an artist to shoot. I just want to make sure I give back.  

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