Years photographed: 2001, 2005

Were you on assignment to shoot Coachella?
In 2001 I was occasionally shooting for Hunter College's school paper, The Hunter Envoy (even though I wasn't going to Hunter nor had I ever gone to Hunter). I used the paper to get myself a photo pass for Coachella, but I wasn't actually on assignment for them. In 2005 I was also not on assignment; a friend hooked up a photopass for the 2nd day of the festival the morning of.

The stage is usually very high, so you may be shooting right up the artist's nose.

What are the immediate positives and negatives of photographing a festival like Coachella?
The positive of shooting a festival like Coachella is that you get the opportunity to shoot some of the biggest acts in the world. It's much harder to get that kind of access for mega bands when they are playing their own show. The negatives are that there are usually way too many people in the photo pit, many of them are amateurs, and the stage is usually very high, so you may be shooting right up the artist's nose.

I had a black sweatshirt on, and they didn't seem to notice my lack of wristband.

What do you think you captured in the first five years of Coachella that couldn't be captured now? Has the culture changed?
I'm not sure how the culture of shooting festivals has changed, but the culture of Coachella has changed quite a bit. It is def much more scene-y now. It's still loads of fun but definitely less about the music and more about the scene.

Do you have a favorite shot from shooting the first five years of Coachella? 
My favorite shot is probably this silhouette of Trent Reznor. First of all, I wasn't supposed to be in the pit for this even though I had a photo wristband. After the guards had already let me in the pit, I found out that you needed a separate special wristband just to shoot NIN. They asked us all to hold up our hands to show the black wristband. I had a black sweatshirt on, and they didn't seem to notice my lack of wristband. Once the show started, it was nearly impossible to get a clean shot. There were men operating huge lights right in front of the stage between the photographers and the band. On top of that, the lights were constantly changing. So really it was all a bit of luck, but I love the intensity of this shot.