That Time I Photographed Drake & Wayne

"But mom, what about the black skirt with the red top? Wait, with the boots? Or the sandals?" As if I wasn't thinking about what I was going to wear to the concert for the entire week, nevertheless, a phone call to mom was necessary. Mom always knows best. The boyfriend jeans, body con top, and combat boots. I'd jazz it up with jewelry and fun make up.

The real panic didn't set in until we were nearly 45 minutes late to the show (or so I thought). To my knowledge, the show began at 7 PM... But what concert ever starts exactly on time? Yeah, doesn't happen. I did happen to miss PartyNextDoor's performance which was kind of a bummer, but I was too concerned with making sure all of my photography equipment was charged and ready to go to really be upset.

I entered the 'media room' where there were about six older male photographers standing there with telephoto lens and equipment worth more than my car. But fear never struck me once. I kind of expected this atmosphere before I arrived there.. I knew I would have to be the underdog and work with what I had. I brought 3 of my favorite lenses with my Canon 60D. I had attached my 70-300 mm standard zoom lens and I remember the Tampa Bay Times photographer saying, "Hope you've got a bigger lens than that.." I confidently shrugged and said "Nah, I think I'll be okay." I love being doubted. It makes the challenge that much more fun.. Aaaaand that much sweeter when I get the job done just as well if not better. Fortunately, I ended up bonding well with most of them and exchanged business cards and received some useful advice when it comes to making photography a career.

So bam, show time, 8:30 PM. The squad of us made our way to the arena and it finally hit me how far away we were going to be from the actual stage. Crap. But I knew worrying wasn't going to change anything and that I just had to do the best I could. I settled on an area of the venue that seemed the most sensible for me and manually changed settings on my camera until I felt secure. I looked to my left.. Is that PartyNextDoor? I ended up briefly speaking to him but wasn't even really concerned because I was so focused on nailing every shot I took on the opening of the show. 

Only the first 6 songs? That's it? I wished I could photograph a little longer but no more thinking - Wayne just came on stage! I was working with a lens that's lowest aperture was only 5.6 - I KNOW RIGHT?! But surprisingly enough, my shutter was clicking away and my images weren't silhouetted or too dark. The rush was incredible, as cliche as that sounds. Every moment mattered down to the seconds. Lighting constantly changed, but I was prepared for that and I had been researching concert photography all month. Wayne's 3 songs were up and then here comes Drake. Again, surreal. Absolutely surreal how close I was to one of my favorite artists, but to be photographing him with a purpose made it that much better. 

341 photos later and we were done. I swear it felt like I had just started by the time the macho man security guard told us we had to leave the area. Now I could return to my friend waiting for me in the stands, and enjoy the show. I remember walking around proudly with my media pass hanging from neck.. I might have been feeling myself a little too much, but let me live. I was on cloud nine.

The show was phenomenal and I don't think there was one second I wasn't entertained. As soon as I got back, I immediately downloaded the photos to my computer. Eyes tired and throat scratchy from screaming, I edited my favorites of the bunch. I have to say, I was impressed with myself. Not that I doubted myself, but my pictures came out waaay better than I thought they would. So I posted them to social media and crashed into my bed.

Sun peaking through my blinds, I laid in bed reminiscing on last night as if it were a distant memory already. Did that really happen?  Once I was up and ready for the day my roommate says, "That's crazy that Lil Wayne used your photo on his Instagram." WHAT. Nah, she's got my photo confused with someone else's. He couldn't have used mine. Immediately I go to Lil Wayne's Instagram and immediately... I scream.

Out of all the photos Lil Wayne could have chosen.. MINE?! HE CHOSE MINE?! Now I know what you're thinking.. "Well he didn't give you any credit..." Yes. I know. It sucks. But what do you expect? I do kind of wish he did, but eh. I can't complain too bad. The underdog got her photo recognized and selected by Lil Tunechi himself. And yes, a part of me wishes I put my watermark on it, but then.. would he have chosen it? It is what it is, and what's done is done. Not many photographers can say their photos are on Lil Wayne's Instagram, so let me shine in this glory for a little. 

Ultimately, the entire experience was full of lessons and challenges and I feel like I overcame all of the doubts and expectations others and myself created. Be sure to check out all of the photos on either this website, my photography Instagram (@cbuddphotography) or my Facebook photography page: Casey Budd Photography. I've received so much recognition and support from all of my peers and I am beyond grateful for all of it. 

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