Disclaimer: This interview may not be reproduced in part or in entirety without the written consent of LPLive.net.
If you've seen an official photograph of Linkin Park, the chances are that Greg Watermann took the picture. He's the official photographer for the band, and also the one that took all the pictures for the 'From The Inside' book, which has an excellent collection of pictures of Linkin Park's touring history. It was released several years ago, and you can buy it basically anywhere online. Be sure to check it out, it's a great book. Anyway, recently a good friend of us named Ana (who runs the site Phoenix-Farrell.org) from the LPU got in touch with Greg to do an exclusive interview for LPLive. This features questions from LPUers and LP fan sites asking Greg the questions instead of just one person coming up with them. You can check out some of Greg's amazing work on his official website or on his MySpace page. We hope you enjoy! Thanks to Greg for doing the interview and to Ana for conducting it.
From: Sophie / JoeHahn.org
> Q: a. Hey Greg! I was wondering what it is that inspires you whenever you make photos? I've seen some of your pictures and also checked your website out. I really like the way you put people in the pictures.
Intensity and perfection in a single moment of time.
> Q: b. Do you have some of your pictures hanging in your place?
Respect for all that you're doing!
Yes, I have my photographs hanging all over the place.
From: ChesterzMuze / LPUnderground:
> Q: a. Are the guys naturally photogenic, or do you have to give them lots of direction?
All of them work well in front of the camera, because they each have a unique personality. I prefer to photograph them when they're doing something, so that I don't have to direct them.
> Q: b. Do you tend to set them up in poses, or take candid photos/however the guys happen to appear?
I really like it when I can document something real and important happening. I never set people up in poses.
> Q: c. What has been your favourite thing to photograph?
> Q: d. Is there a photo that you are most proud of?
Yes, the shot of System Of A Down, waving to their fans after their last(?) show (2006). It's still the last picture Ever taken of them together. You can see it on their MySpace. It was a very intense moment...
From: madlen / Joehahn.org
> Q: Did you enjoy working with Linkin Park and was there a moment you'll always remember?
I love shooting LP live. My favorite show was LIVE8, in Philadelphia. There were 1,000,000 people in the audience, and I was the only photographer allowed on-stage with them...
Half-way through the set, Jay-Z walked out (a surprise!) and the crowd went wild. What do you think it sounds like... when a million people (all facing you) scream their heads off?!!
From: marilou / LPUnderground
> Q: The pictures that you took for "From The Inside" in Montreal are truly amazing so I was wondering what is the main thing you are looking for before taking a picture of such a massive crowd?
Even though I'm making a portrait of thousands of people at once, I'm still looking for an intense moment of activity, with lots of great facial expressions, maybe some dust swirling up from the mosh pits, lots of hands in the air, etc.
From: Jhuryn / LPUnderground
> Q: a. You've worked with so many talented artists in the past. Do most come to you with a clear idea of what they want to portray in the photo shoot or video?
Some artists come to me with very clear ideas of what they want, and some come to me wanting my ideas. It's always different, which keeps things interesting
> Q: b. Linkin Park, for example, has several very creative members.
How do you combine your ideas and theirs to make the project work?
It's actually quite easy... they like the way I see them.
> Q: c. Your shots for "From The Inside" are some of my favorite concerts shots of all time. They really convey the energy of Linkin Park's shows. Is there a technique that you use to capture energy like this in still shots?
Yes, it's just like shooting sports; you have to anticipate the highest point of action. If you saw it happen in the camera, and then pushed the button... you missed the best shot.
From: dereklp / LPUnderground
> Q: What kind of gear do you own and what would you recommend a broke person wanting to take great concert shots to use?
I use Canon (16mp) cameras and their fastest prime lenses: 35/1.4 50/1.2 85/1.2 and 200/2.8. Also, I never use a flash because it bothers people, and ruins private moments.
I've been shooting film professionally for 20 years but, I switched to digital 3 years ago. (Note: all of "From The Inside" was shot on film, with a Nikon F3.
My recommendations for gear? Stick with Canon or Nikon. Go with digital, film is over unless you just want to do it. Money wise, the more you spend - the better the camera, period. To shoot concerts you need an ISO of at least 800 without noise, and a lens with a max. aperture of f/4.0 Otherwise, everything is going to be blurry. But I'm constantly surprised with the high-quality level of camera equipment that regular fans bring to concerts now.
From: Geki / LPUnderground
> Q: Hey Greg! What was it like being in the Laurel Canyon studio? Brad said it was hard to tell what era you were in while there, so did you get that feeling too?
Yeah, it has this almost creepy/historic vibe to it... like you know weird stuff must have happened before. Houdini lived there and there's secret passages. Chester showed me the basement where there used to be tunnels to other buildings!
Also, I was there with Slayer once - it was crazy.
From: wesleyhahn / LPUnderground
> Q: Is it fun to shoot with Linkin Park? Are they mostly serious or are they joking around a lot?
Most of the time they're just joking around, relaxing, playing HALO, etc. and everything is fun. But about ten minutes before they go on, the dressing room gets more quite, and they get pretty serious and focused. Both the band and the crew stay that way, until the show is over.
From: Ana / LPUnderground (Interviewer)
> Q: In some pictures out of the book, you shot private pictures of the guys, like them reading a book or fighting with a towel, but how far to they let you in their privacy? Are you still in contact with the guys?
Remember, I'm not photographing them from the bushes... I'm part of the band's group, and they want me there to document their lives for the fans. So I'm given a level of all-access that no one else gets. I can go anywhere...
And yes, I still see and work with LP all the time. I always see them somewhere backstage, even when I'm with another band. And they had me in New York City with them recently, to document their live show at the Apple store in SoHo (available on iTunes). It was an amazing performance, btw.