We’re nearly halfway through July, and music festival season is in full swing. Each weekend, hoards of young people slip into their best outfit (fringe, anyone?) and flock to the nearest festival grounds to dance, listen to new music and have a great time. I have to admit, it’s amazing to see so many people throughout the country spending time outside enjoying live performances from some of the industry’s best artists.
Earlier this summer, Tacoma Park-based photographer Eli Meir Kaplan photographed a series of lifestyle images at Sweetlife, a two-day music festival in Columbia, Maryland put on by the Sweetgreen chain of restaurants. Eli had seen photos of the festival before, and knew that shooting it would be a chance to make some great, authentic lifestyle images without using models. The final series looks like it could have been shot in the ’70s—face paint, flower crowns and high-rise, acid wash denim all make appearances. Eli hadn’t been to an event like that in a long time, and for him it was “incredibly refreshing to be around so many young people having the time of their lives.”
Eli’s style is fresh and fun with a great storytelling quality. The Sweetlife festival presented a perfect opportunity to add to his portfolio.
This was a sun-filled lifestyle shoot with real people. I’d seen photos of Sweetgreen’s Sweetlife Festival before and it looked like it was filled with lots of hip, beautiful young people and fun activities. I wasn’t too interested in photographing the music or even the musicians, I was interested in the people enjoying the scene. I met the director of the festival a few years back on an assignment, so I got in touch. I worked out a deal with them with the images and she was nice enough to give me a pass to let me go pretty much anywhere.
In addition to avoiding posed shots and getting candid photos of the concert-goers, Eli’s biggest challenge with the project was dealing with the loud atmosphere:
It was really really loud. At one point I was close to a speaker and it felt like my hat was lifting off of my head. Thankfully I wore earplugs. The sky became overcast right during the magic hour, which was of the course the time of day I was most excited about. It peaked behind the clouds for about 10 minutes and I took advantage of it.
Eli’s looking forward to getting the images out there and photographing more events like this in the future. As far as what he learned from the project?
It’s so easy to capture people looking like they’re having a great time when they really are.