Story and photos by Walter Grio
May 24, 2007
When I found out that I had a Press Pass to the Pink Martini show in Paris, I didn’t know if I could make it. The show was on a Thursday night and I couldn’t fly out from Nürnberg, Germany fast enough to make the show after work. I was working there at the time (for my regular job) so I asked my client if I could leave early on Thursday and take Friday off. They didn’t have a problem with the idea, but there was a big meeting Thursday afternoon so it would have been a tight connection (if even possible). So the idea of photographing Pink Martini in Paris became more impossible.
That Thursday morning, I decided to pack my camera and my toothbrush, just in case there was a chance I could go. My client felt terrible for me considering he knew how much I loved Pink Martini and photography. He said that if there wasn’t a meeting, he would have let me go for sure. I told him I understood and that work was first priority for me and it wasn’t a big deal. My thought was that if I had this opportunity to shoot Pink Martini at a show with a Press Pass, there would be another chance. As luck would have it, at 12pm, the meeting was canceled. The client quickly turned to me and said, “Go!”
One problem: I couldn’t leave from Nürnberg because ALL flights were already sold out. But a “neighboring” city had some flights to Paris. So with my toothbrush, my camera, and my two laptops, I immediately took a taxi to the train station and rode a train from Nürnberg to Frankfurt to catch a flight to Paris. I called my travel agent on my way to Frankfurt and she booked me a flight and a hotel. I made it just in time to catch the right flight. The train ride to Frankfurt was 2.5 hours and the flight from Frankfurt to Paris was just over an hour. If the meeting was canceled 15 minutes later, I would have never caught the right train to catch the right flight to make it in time to the show.
I eventually made it to the theater with one hour to spare, but the place was a mess. I couldn’t get a Press Pass because my contact person couldn’t be found. And when they finally arrived, it was ridiculously chaotic. I finally met my contact, but she couldn’t find my “Photo” pass. I stood there at the lobby and the show was about to start. Luckily, there were still a lot of people getting in so they couldn’t really start the show. When my Photo pass finally arrived, I immediately ran inside and squeezed myself through the crowd. I finally made it in front of the stage and parked myself in the corner with only 5 minutes left. Oh yeah, I’m wheeling along my laptop bag, my roller suitcase, and my camera bag.
Forget the fact that at this point, I had to pee and I was incredibly nervous. I was just happy I made it. My instructions were “no flash” and I was authorized to take photos during the first 3 songs only. No problem. When Pink Martini finally came out, everything was sublime. I’ve seen them about ten times now, but this one was different. I was at the very front of the stage about to take their pictures. There were 3 other photographers there and I had to make sure I didn’t accidentally or purposely kick them out of my way. But everything worked out. When Thomas Lauderdale (bandleader) said a few words in French, it finally hit me that I’m taking their pictures in Paris. I fought hard not to pass out.
Much like a wedding I shot last year, it was pretty intense. There is something exponentially different between shooting “fashion” versus “live events”. And even though this wasn’t important for Pink Martini, these photos were very important to me. I wanted to make sure I got it right. I only had 10 minutes to get my pictures. I started at the right corner of the stage and after the first song, I went right in the middle. The stage is about 4 feet high so it wasn’t too bothersome for the audience to have me in front of them. But the first 3 rows of people could definitely see me and I wanted to make sure I didn’t ruin their Pink Martini experience. And because I couldn’t quite stand up completely, my knees and legs started to hurt. I didn’t care though, but you could definitely see me shaking. After 30 seconds, I decided to forget the audience and just stand up. I only had one song left so I wanted to make the best of it.
After it was all said and done, my clothes, which were the same ones I wore to work earlier in the day, was completely soaked. When I finally sat down at the corner against the wall, I put my camera down and enjoyed the rest of the show.