I had purchased tickets to this event during the pre-sale a couple months ago. Being a big fan, I did not want to miss the show in my hometown. Then, two days prior to the show, I got the news that I was approved for a photo pass. “Be there by 7PM if you would like to photograph the opening acts,” read the email. A combination of excitement and nerves overcame my body as I read through the entire message. I was ready to go.
The morning of the show I spent a good amount of time researching all three artists, as well as readying my equipment. Being able to capture both The Weeknd, Banks and Travis Scott was going to be an incredible experience. At around 5:30 I left my house and headed to DC. An hour later we arrived at the Verizon Center. I had to make a quick stop by Will Call in order to pick up the tickets for the people I was with, but it was anything but quick. The clock kept ticking, but I still didn’t have my tickets. Tick, tick, tick, seven o’clock kept getting closer. While the lady asked me to calm down and stop with the attitude, she didn’t understand that even though I had plenty of time until the show started, I didn’t have the luxury of time to find the media entrance. After about 15 minutes, but what felt like an eternity, she gave us the tickets and I rushed to find the media entrance.
I made it to the entrance with two minutes to spare, went through security check and walked down the stairs to meet up with our escort. She had me fill paperwork and handed me my photo pass. As Travis Scott’s set approached, she informed all the photographers that we weren't allowed pit access during the opening sets anymore. Instead, we had a designated location to shoot from. Huge game changer. I remained confident in my abilities, however, and thought to myself “It’s okay, I will make it work somehow.” As we were being escorted to our location, she also informed us that we would only get the first two songs to shoot Travis. In other words, four to seven minutes tops. Once we arrived to the location I realized that my lens wasn't going to cut it. I was too far out and had hundreds of people standing in front of me enjoying The Rodeo. I tried everything, changing angles, lifting my camera up, and standing on the chair. Nothing worked. His lights were too dark to get any sort of detail from that far out. In the pictures you can tell it was him, but not see any detail. The second song began and I needed to find a way to get a shot. I looked at our escort and slowly moved closer to the isle furthest away from her. The moment she looked away I rushed to the front of the stage and got as close as I could. I was able to get some close up shots (seen in the gallery), and then I felt a tap on my shoulders. The escort had chased me down and told me to go back to the shooting location. I played it off as if I didn't do anything. She encouraged me to “stay with the group from now on.”
After the set we went backstage and waited for Banks. We weren't allowed to see any of the show while shooting, which I thought was kind of ridiculous. However, throughout Banks performance I behaved and stayed at the location as to avoid getting kicked out. Then, it was almost show time. We were waiting for our queue to photograph The Weeknd. As we walked in I took my phone out to record everything for Snapchat, shout out to my followers, and made my way to the stage. Once we arrived I tried recording again and the escort told me I couldn't do that. Why? It didn’t seem like a 10 second video would hurt anybody, but regardless I listened. I was moments away from shooting not only the headliner, but also my favorite artist. As ‘The Party’ began to play we were finally allowed in. Three songs is all we had so I had to make it count. I took as many photos as I could and worked my way around the stage. During the three songs I remembered the escort’s voice “put it away,” and I pulled my phone back out to record a short video from the pit. The three songs ended and we were pushed out, back to our original meeting spot. Lucky for me, I had kept my ticket and met up with my friends after taking photos. I was able to enjoy the rest of the show as a fan. It was an epic night to say the least, I hope you all enjoy the photos.