These pictures will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not only did I get a chance to photograph one of my favorite musical artists of all time but what it took to get these pictures makes them all the more special. The only reason I requested photo access for Counterpoint was to shoot Outkast. Yes there were a few other acts that I liked and whom are photo gold, i.e Sleigh Bells and Phantogram, but I went for the 'Kast. These guys were coming up when I was coming up. I can still remember the first time I heard "Player's Ball". I used to watched BET Rap City everyday when I got home from school and one day the video for 'Player's Ball" came on and I was hooked. Here were some dudes from just up the road rapping about places that I knew. I was listening to a lot of rap at that time, like all middle class suburban white kids were doing, and it was all from New York and L.A. and all they rhymed about was places and other shit that I knew nothing about but here were some Georgia boys laying it down about Georgia things. I remember going to baseball camp at Georgia Southern my sophomore and when we weren't at the ball field I was holed up in my dorm room listening to every word on Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik.
I knew going in that there was a good chance that I would not be allowed to photograph the group. I figured they would only grant photo passes for their show to some bigger publications and they did. I was covering for Jambase and they only granted access to local publications and a couple of hip hop outlets. I tried to sneak into the photo pit several times with no luck because security there was tight, but I would not be deterred. The band came on and I listened to three or four songs before getting back to the task at hand. I found a break in the fence to get behind the stage and walked through all kinds of mud to get to the side stage. The key is that if you look and act like you're supposed to be somewhere most people will leave you alone. I made sure to have all the credentials that I did have showing and flopping around so that if anyone looked I would look somewhat legit. I went to one side and the guy let me up but when I got up there it was just Andre doing some solo stuff so I quickly ran back down and asked the security guard if I could go back up when they were both on stage. He was cool with it but as soon as I walked off he got his tail chewed out by his boss man for letting me up there. So I walked to the other side of the stage and that side was on total lock down so I walked back to where I was. I waited for Big Boi to come back out and approached the security guard and he told that he couldn't let anyone up so I set out to find his boss, which I did. I played him this big sob story about how much I love the group and how they were the only guys I came to photograph and that if I didn't get something my editor was going to be pissed. He wasn't budging so I did the only thing left I knew to do...offered him some weed. I had just a little bit in my pocket and he was all like, "Hell Yeah!". The irony is that the only reason I even had it on me was for this very reason, to bribe security to let me get on stage - "that weed be letting you know." He took me up on stage and I couldn't get a clear shot for all of the side stage equipment and all the band's friends. So I walked out through the curtain that separates the monitor board from the edge of the stage and the crowd. Once I cleared that curtain I was on the front of the stage, out over the crowd, right there with Andre and Big Boi at arm's length from me. I froze and just watched them bang it out before coming to and saying, "Oh shit, I've got to take pictures." So I took a ton of pictures and when it was all over I thought I was the king of the world. As I was walking off stage I threw my hands up and yelled victoriously at the top of my lungs, "YES!!!!". I immediately called my brother, who is a bigger fan than I am, because I wanted him to know before anyone else about what I just saw. It was a little late and I woke him and his wife up and he thought I was on all sorts of drugs because of how excited I was. This was one of the coolest things I've seen in the years since I've been photographing music.
The thing that makes these pictures even more special is that I'm not sure if there are any other pictures from their performances from this perspective. All of the pics I have seen from other festivals are all from the photo pit, the same angles, and the same shots from every show. Because of how close I was there is a real sense of intimacy in these pictures. This was also the first show that Andre wore the black jumpsuit and white wig and he has worn it at every performance since.