Pat Graham, the official photographer for Modest Mouse, recently signed up with Imagekind to start selling his photographs of the band on the site. Being a Modest Mouse fan myself and thinking this is a great way to utilize Imagekind to help sell your artwork, I got in touch with Pat to give us some insight into what he does. Pat was cool enough to take some time out of the current Modest Mouse tour and answer some questions about the tour and his photography.
You can purchase exclusive limited edition photos from the Modest Mouse concerts from his collection, Limited Editions from Last Nights Gig.
Got a question for Pat yourself?
So, you’re the official photographer for Modest Mouse. How did you get hooked up in that role?
I have been very close with Isaac and Modest Mouse since the band started. Isaac and I were roommates in Arlington/DC area before Modest Mouse was around. We hit it off with our love for music, and photography. Isaac started Modest Mouse and then asked me to go along on the first tour as a roadie/driver/merch guy and photographer.
Isaac, Eric, Jeremiah and I hit the road in April of 1997. After thousands of miles covered and thousands of photos taken, the band has grown in popularity and creativity.
Now, I have the privilege of being the bands only photographer and web blogger.
You are currently just finishing up the tour with Modest Mouse. What, in your opinion, was the coolest show? What was your favorite venue?
I photograph Modest Mouse every night. All the shows have a different element. The band takes around 2 hours a night just to decide on the set list!
The show that really stands out the most this tour would be the one in Council Bluffs Iowa. A storm was headed towards the outdoor venue so we had to wait around to get the all clear.
We were waiting on stage and talking with the fans, and all of sudden the sky started to heave down ice cube sized hail stones…followed by buckets of rain. The fans stuck it out though.
Issac, Joe, and Jeremiah got some buckets for drums and an acoustic guitar then headed out into the center of the crowd and downpour to play a song. The rain stopped after a percussion only jam and MM kept playing while lightning was flashing in the sky. The fans, band, and Mother Nature were all amazing that night.
What is your favorite photo from your current collection of the Modest Mouse tour?
As for the live stuff, my favorite is probably the shot of Isaac in Brooklyn with his guitar spinning at him. This was a great show; Modest Mouse went on at 2:30 am. This shot was in the second song. The hours of this show are truly Isaacs’s peak hours. The band was on it from the first note.
You have been photographing Modest Mouse since the beginning right? What’s it been like to progress with them?
Yeah, I’ve been photographing them since 1996. The settings and some people are a little different but the whole attitude and way things are done remain pretty much the same. Things in general are more positive overall.
Your work has a very intimate feel. When lining up a shot, what do you try and focus on and what do you hope to convey through your photographs?
I try to be as subtle as possible. I don’t want myself or the camera to change the way things are unfolding.
I try and focus on eyes or light, hopefully conveying a sense of space and time of the event.
What’s your favorite location or angle to shoot from – the crowd’s POV, the band’s, both? How do you determine which one throughout the show?
All spots, really. I go where I can fit without getting in the way, and where the light looks good. Lately I have been crawling around on stage behind Isaac and Johnny’s amps, wearing earplugs of course.
Do you get a chance to just enjoy the show much or are you constantly looking for the next shot?
I get enjoyment from looking for that shot and listening to what’s happening. It’s a full on visual sound experience.
There must be thousands of great opportunities throughout the course of a concert. How much do you shoot versus waiting for a great shot? What type of signs do you look for before capturing such fantastic shots?
It’s all about patience and timing things with what Steven the lighting guy does…and of course the actions of what the band and crowd do.
The signs are in the crowd, band members’ faces, and certain songs tend to bring out a lot in both band and crowd.
Have you worked with any other bands?
Yes I work with a lot of bands; I have been shooting musicians for almost 20 years. I have a book of photos called Silent Pictures that just came out last year on Akashic Books. Check out the Pat Graham Imagekind galleries as well as my web site www.patgraham.org.
Before I met Isaac in Arlington/Washington DC at the time I was photographing bands like Bikini Kill, Fugazi, etc.
Bands I have toured with include: Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Make Up, June of 44, Shins, and more.
What did you like the most/least about being on tour? Any particularly favorite/bad experiences?
I like being able to live with my camera and document everything. Also be able to spend time with close friends who I don’t get to see much otherwise.
This tour we have had a lot of great times. Mostly on the bus; The Brockies film festival, human bowling, walking through the Florida woods at night, just being with friends.
I hate being away from my family, that’s very hard. Also trying to communicate with home can be difficult which gets frustrating…looking for a good internet connection, etc. and catching up with time zones.
Anything else you are currently working on or have planned in the near future we can let your fans know about? What should we be looking out for?
Definitely check out my current book Silent Pictures, it covers a lot of my work going all the way back to that first Modest Mouse tour and farther.
I also have done a limited edition photo poster with Modest Mouse and Raen optics.
Another book is in the talk about stage and my photos can also be seen in the Raen optics Through the Eyes Of… series.
This year looks to be busy with various commercial projects coming together with my personal work. I have a mailing list on patgraham.org that will keep people up to date on my whereabouts and the projects.