Today I went out to cover Ozzfest, a Lollapalooza-like festival involving massive amounts of heavy metal topped off with a creamy dollop of Ozzy Osbourne, former Black Sabbath front man and personal icon throughout much of my childhood. I etched his name on top of pretty much any mark-able surface until I discovered grunge in the late 80's/early 90's. Now, don't get all excited thinking you're going to see any pics of the Metal God himself. I was assigned to cover the feel of the event, not the stages. Plus, I had to be out of there by 4 pm to make a 5 pm deadline. The Oz Man didn't come on until the sun went down. How fitting.
When I got to the White Rock Amphitheatre, I was told I would have to be escorted by a media representative for the whole time I was there. The media rep I spoke with was under the impression I would be there for a half hour at the most. When I told him I'd be there for about four hours, he realized he'd have to find another rep to follow me around. In the meantime, we strolled around the grounds for about fifteen minutes before we went back to the office to wait for the other liaison to escort me.
He was actually helpful, pointing out a man with an Ozzy tattoo on his arm. I will say the experience of having someone shadow me while I'm trying to make pictures was different to say the least. About half-way through, I asked him why he had to escort me. Apparently, the powers that be are afraid I would do something like take a picture of the empty main stage, (which hadn't filled out yet because the venue had just opened), and then publish the image and say something like "they put on a show and no one came." That was certainly not the case. The thing to remember, though, is something I learned a long time ago at one of my alma mater's, San Antonio College's Photography and Journalism department. "We are not a PR (public relations) firm," words uttered by Irene Abrego, my adviser on the word side who said this to me after the teacher of a wrestling school wanted to look at the pictures I made of his students training before we published them. Abrego's logic, new to me at the time, is that we are professionals and we're there to tell a story. We wouldn't tell him how to teach people how to wrestle. His students trust him to do that. In that light, people need to trust journalists as professionals doing their best to tell the stories of their communities.
After we journeyed back, I was introduced to the liaison who would follow me for the remainder of my time at the venue. We took a walk around the perimeter of the main and second stage. When we passed by the office again, he said, "You're going down that way, right? I'm going to go inside for a few minutes and I'll catch up with you." I said fine and went on my way, feeling emancipated to get into my shooting groove.
After I wrapped up my shooting and went back to my car, there were three messages on my phone from the main PR guy. He said something to the effect that I needed to come back to the office, that the promoters would be very upset if they saw me walking around unescorted. I guess I didn't hear my phone ring amongst all the loud music. Heck, its a work phone. I just got it and I haven't even figured out how to make it vibrate yet. I'll have to figure that out.
This was my favorite photo from the event:
And the page front: