Jun.13 / 2014

My weekend at Field Trip: A grown and sexy festival for a novice photographer

The first music festival that I remember going to was when I was in elementary school. My friend’s mom would drive us out to Barrie for Edgefest and drop us off - probably with no idea of what we were getting into.

The last big festival I went to was Osheaga and I was shocked by how much it had grown since I attended in one of the founding years. The summer music festival is a staple for many of us music fans. However, I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems festivals like Coachella and South by Southwest are growing bigger than I would have ever imagined.

I am not one for huge pushing crowds, or overflowing port-o-pottys, or waiting in the rain for a couple of hours to get on a train and go home – so I thought my festival days, although they were wonderful, were becoming less frequent and less fun as I got older.

Then I discovered Field Trip. The boutique festival was founded last year as a celebration of Arts & Crafts’ 10th anniversary and this was their first attempt at making it a two-day affair. I didn’t attend last year, but when I found out it was at Fort York and with a line-up that I was truly excited about, I pitched to take some festival-style photos for our M3 Blog.

I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed how easy it all was. Even though it’s only in its second year, it ran like a well-oiled machine. I loved the laid back vibe. Not once did I feel stressed because everything was close and accessible and clean. It was by far the most family-friendly festival I’ve ever been to, and of course the music was great. I was talking to a young dad at the festival attending with his young daughter and her best friend, and they were having a blast. He talked to me about how this is the music that he listened to when he was turning 30, so the natural evolution would be for them to have families and look for activities they could enjoy all together.

Field Trip did not disappoint. There was a bouncy castle, arts and crafts, a day camp, a watermelon eating contest…I mean really what more could you ask for as a kid (or a parent)?

The kids weren’t the only ones having all the fun; adults could also participate. There was hula hooping and other fun things like barbershops and nail salons. Not to brag, but I was the hula hoop champion at summer camp (setting the all-time record), so I didn’t want to show off too much. But I did so graciously fall up the hill in wedges while taking photos. There goes my ego after all! Note to self: never wear wedges to Fort York. They look good and I could take better photos being taller, but it was NOT worth it. At night the hoops were glowing with lights and it looked like a really cool rave or space odyssey.

I’ve never been in the press pit taking photos at a festival before, so there was a lot to be learned.
I was told by the other photojournalists that I was being polite and thoughtful of other photographers, which is the most important part if you don’t want to get told off by the veterans. One thing that stuck with me though was a guy in the crowd making some comment about “What media outlet is SHE from??” insinuating that, because I was a woman and dressed in a cute outfit, that I could not be a photographer. The security guard responded with doubt too, but said he couldn’t do anything because I had a bracelet. I corrected them and told them where I was from and after that they both shut up and were extra polite to me. Gentlemen, I am not Penny Lane or a groupie, women can in fact be journalists! Shout outs to all my female photographers doing this all the time. However, all the other photographers were really kind and friendly, and helped me use my camera and gave me tips, which I am so grateful for.

My favourite part of the festival was watching the kids dance, they were totally unbridled and unclouded by pretention. They were just feeling the music and being free. Isn’t that what music festivals are all about? Hey, if you want to paint your face and wear cat ears you should be able to. Somehow as adults we all seem to get a lot more judgmental of one another and worrying about our festival outfits and forgetting why we are really there. Music.

If you know me, you know I love food. I barely eat at most festivals because the lines are disgustingly long and the food usually makes my stomach hurt, but Field Trip was the complete opposite. The food trucks were out of this world. The shrimp tacos I had for dinner were on par with anything I’d eat from La Carnita. I have not had that much food truck experience, but if this is what they are all about I am getting behind the cause. I mean, putting half a mason jar of key lime pie in my purse is definitely a better option as a snack pack. The cocktails were delicious basil & cucumber infused concoctions & some great cider options for the gluten-free folk.

The festival was also smart. I took full advantage of the Uber phone charging station; the way my phone runs through juice, I was there more than once! I loved the concept of the green bicycle-powered stage and also equally important the fact they didn’t print maps. People have phones- save the trees!

You know you are having a good time at a festival when you lose track of time. I got so wrapped up in shooting everyone having the time of their lives; I lost my chance to shoot The Kills. I also learned that, generally, photogs can only shoot the first three songs. I was bummed, but hey, I’m sure you can Google some amazing shots. Also Kate Moss did not make an appearance, because if she did and I missed that shot I probably would have cried.

One of my favourite acts to see live was A Tribe Called Red. I’ve heard incredible reviews but I have never seen them live. The crowd turned from chilled out to everyone having a mega dance party.

Day two I was a little smarter. I wore weather appropriate clothing and flats. It rained a little (I feel like it’s not a real music festival unless it at least drizzles), but no one’s spirits were dampened.
Shooting Fucked Up was an amazing thrill. I work with Damian, who hosts The Wedge, but I’ve never seen him play and the energy was unreal. As he jumped into the crowd, he was embraced and pulled into a hundred directions by the fans. The photogs in the pit jumped, literally, at the opportunity to get the shot. Probably my most exciting picture taking moment. I ended up with some bangs and bruises on my legs, but they made for a good conversation starter when I interviewed Jack Reynor from the new Transformers on Tuesday when he inquired about it. Thanks Damian!

There were reunions and surprises and in the end I will definitely be back next year.
Lessons for life I took from the weekend: 1) Always take more pictures. There were times where I was shy and later regretted not grabbing a chance to grab a killer photo. Also if you are a festival photographer always have a phone timer so you don’t miss a set you want to shoot! 2) As an adult, it was refreshing to see all the kids having the time of their lives and I was reminded to never be afraid to lose that childlike lust for life. These kids really loved the music for what it was; a pure energy that was hitting them and letting them dance, they were not pretending to enjoy the music because it was the cool blog band of the moment. Side note: If you have not watched that musical festival Jimmy Kimmel Lie Witness News segment, get on that.

The families all looked so happy that they could enjoy it together with a sense of peace that felt different than any other angsty late teen/ early twenties typical music festival. Maybe growing up ain’t so bad after all, we just need to remember to keep that organic love of music alive in our hearts and always keep dancing.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

For more photos, check out Gaby’s photo gallery on Facebook.


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