QUARANTINED: Bryan Lasky
For today’s QUARANTINED interview, we reached out to Bryan Lasky aka “Boney Diego” to get a photographers perspective on COVID-19 and how it has effected other professional concert photographers like himself. We also talk to him about his experience as a concert photographer and his journey thus far. See what Bryan has to say below:
How are things going since the impact of the COVID-19 Virus?
Well if we’re being honest pretty shitty, which is what I’m sure everyone else is feeling. It’s a lot for all of us and we didn’t ask for any of it. It’s just finding things to make the best of a terrible situation.
What things have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
Lots of running. I’m a runner to begin with, but I mean A LOT of running. I updated parts of my website and backed up my entire catalog. I’ve been reading more. I’ve also been watching way too much TV. Been spinning vinyl every morning with my wife as well, which is such a nice way to start the day.
Hows the Boston Music scene vs. Albany?
If you’re talking national tours, Boston destroys Albany. Almost every tour comes through the city and it’s been wonderful. I won’t lie, to be able to cover so many bands without driving far is really nice. Now personally while I love this, I don’t have a sense of community, other than the photographers I work alongside each night. Having lived in the Albany area for over 5 years (plus the four from college to make it almost a decade) the local scene was such a beautiful thing to be around. In Albany I felt a connection with the bookers, the bands, the bar tenders, the security guards, the photographers, and certain patrons that came out every night. While some of that is in Boston, which I’ve lived in for almost 2 years now, it’s just not the same. I haven’t made that connection with the local bands yet. Both cities are great honestly.
What are some of your favorite concerts that you have photographed?
Man there have been some amazing moments. I’ll list a few, but this is really just a snippet. My first MSG show in the pit, which also was the first time I photographed Phish. Iggy Pop at the Capitol Theatre on the Post Pop Depression Tour where he came out and I may or may not have taken a picture of him spitting towards me. Getting the chance to check off both seeing and snapping Dolly Parton and Kermit the Frog on back to back days at Newport Folk. Lucius at the Hollow where they ended the show in the middle of a super sold out room. Being on the teams for both Boston Calling and Bonnaroo. Getting Outkast from the crowd in 2014 at Governors Ball was pretty wild.
What are some bucket list bands/artists you want to photograph?
Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Grace Jones, Madonna, Beyonce, Rihanna, Bob Dylan, and I’m sure there are some others. Arcade Fire from the pit would be nice as I have done them before but not close. I know there’s a bunch I’ve been able to check off unofficially like Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, U2 and Pearl Jam in an arena, Robert Plant, and The Rolling Stones, and to do those officially would be pretty amazing.
How has COVID-19’s impact on the live music/entertainment industry effected you?
I mean right off the bat I lost SXSW and Rage Against the Machine’s 1st come back show. I lost so many opportunities due to SXSW being cancelled. Since the beginning I’ve also lost jobs that probably total more than $8,000. I mean there are things still being cancelled and I just don’t see an end. I’m pretty sure this is going through the fall, which I know no one wants to admit, but this has been ugly for the whole industry. Also in terms on mental health, all I keep thinking about is all of my friends in the industry who are hurting, some worse than me, some not as bad, but everyone’s hurting.
Do you have any advice for Photographers struggling?
Take some time and relax. You do not have to create right now. I don’t care what your favorite photographer is doing, just take moments for yourself. I just picked up my camera for the first time since March 11 yesterday. I’d say after you take a breath, update your website, maybe learn some new editing skills, learn about SEO’s and how to promote yourself. The main thing is just make it through every day and if you can do a little bit to get your brain up and running than great. If you can only make it through the day than that’s ok too. There are zero expectations for you right now other than taking care of yourself.
What was coming up for you in the coming months prior to the impact of COVID-19?
Well other than the couple of shows I mentioned, I had about 7 festivals on my radar, including Tulip Festival, to get paid for as well as I was beginning to work with Headcount to take photos of artists telling folks to register to vote. I was really excited about that as everyone should vote in every election. It’s the only way to make change happen. I was also looking into various tours of friends I knew were gearing up for tours to hop on and document them. Also as everyone passes through Boston, probably around 50 shows.
How did you get into concert photography?
I started bringing cameras into shows in 2006(ish) and video taped the shows on a little Sony point and shoot. All of those videos are somewhere. I then obtained a better camera before I left for Shanghai and I took pictures of everything. I absolutely fell in love with the medium. I documented it all, and even though the photos aren’t great looking back at them, I still did it. There were shows there by the fellow teachers I worked with and I documented them a bit. I came back, bought a car, and drove around the US alone for nine and a half weeks, again documenting it all and made a tumblr for it. When that was over I was kind of lost on what to do and my good friend Sue Rice said you like concerts and you like taking pictures, why don’t you do that. This was in the winter of 2013 and I haven’t looked back since.
How did you get the name Boney Diego?
I have always been very thin. It’s just what my body has decided to be. My older brother, who had been working in China, came home the summer after I did cross country and middle distance for the first time in college and I was definitely skinnier than usual. So I had my arms up stretching at one point and he’s like well I’m gonna call you Boney from now on. I protested and asked for more. Since my middle name is David he came up with Diego so my initials would still be BDL.
What things do you miss the most with having to social distance?
Really just missing seeing my friends. I had made a list of things to do this year and it was seeing friends more than going to shows. I just wanted to slow down and see more friends. All the hugs and hi fives were always so nice. Obviously also seeing shows as being in a room with people and watching the magic unfold is always good. I really just miss all my friends.
What music has been getting you through these stressful times?
I really haven’t been listening to anything specific. I am still getting a lot of PR emails and I have kind of let my inbox go wild. I haven’t been in the mood for music. I’ve watched some streams. I have to recommend Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee’s weekly Thursday Instagram Live Streams they are doing together. The new Pearl Jam is pretty good. I’ve been doing far more TV than music lately. I think music is just making me bummed that live music is just cancelled right now.
When going out and about, what precautions are you taking with social distancing?
I’m staying as far away from people as possible when I have to go our for food, which is the only thing I’ve left the house for. I wash my hands after that and also after getting the mail. My thing is if you don’t have to go outside, then don’t. Now my wife works in a hospital and was already tested once, which came back negative, but she works 7 on and 7 off. Since she just started another week of work we’re probably going to keep our distance in the house as much as we can.
What’s next for Boney Diego?
I have no idea. I want to be part of more festival teams and tours, but I have no idea what the industry is going to be like when this is all over. It’s a scary time for everyone involved. I want it to be even better for everyone, but I’m sure payments are going to be even more scarce for this job, which sucks because it’s hard enough now to make money doing this and I’m pretty sure it’s going to get worse. I didn’t get into this to make money, I got into this to document bands and enjoy live shows. I think I’m not too shabby at documenting it all, but to be able to pay my bills would be nice on top of that. I went full time when I moved to Boston and last year was actually my best year yet and I was able to almost pay all of my bills. We’ll see what happens. If I can just continue to document my friends doing awesome things I’ll be pretty happy.
How can people support your photography?
So I don’t only photograph concerts. I do events and weddings as well. If you’re in need of photos from those feel free to hit me up. At the same time I have a series of photos called the Photo of the Month, where I choose a new photo each month and make 20 in 11×17 and 20 in 5×7. Part of the proceeds goes to the Freaks Action Network. All the photos can be found at www.boneydiego.com under the prints section. These are done on a first come first serve basis and are announced on the first of every month. Also almost any photo I’ve ever taken is available for purchase.
Stay safe and stay clean everyone.