QUARANTINED: Vince Brazen
In this week’s Quarantined interview, we talk to professional concert photographer Vince Brazen about his extensive career, the Portland, Maine concert scene, staying busy during the COVID pandemic and much more! Read below:
How are things going since the impact of the COVID-19 virus?
It’s been okay overall. I got sick right before the mandatory quarantine and dealt with that for about two and a half weeks. Once I recovered it’s been pretty good. Fortunately I live in an area that’s not very crowded and everyone is doing a pretty good job staying home and keeping our numbers down, so it really hasn’t been bad.
What things have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
Watching a lot of Netflix and concerts online. I also started working with Grapevine Design to finally have a photography website built. That’s been fun going back through all the old shows. You know how fast everything moves so it’s nice to take my time and go back through them and find some photos I missed the 1st time through. Been shooting empty waves and I also started shooting photos of birds and wildlife in my backyard and down at the estuary. It’s pretty fun and challenging for sure. Sometimes with the branches it’s like shooting through a dozen mic stands and wires haha
What do you like most about the Portland, Maine concert scene?
I like that we have really good key size venues, so we get most acts on tour whether they play a 300-2000 capacity venue. For some reason bands really bring their “A” games when they come to town. Especially at the State Theatre.
What are some of your favorite concerts that you have photographed?
I don’t know if I could pick any specific concerts but the bands I most enjoy shooting with recently are Pigeons, Ween, JRAD(Joe Russo’s Almost Dead), Marco Benevento, Pepper and Tropidelic.
What are some bucket list bands/artists you want to photograph?
Jay Z, Rage Against The Machine, GWAR, Bruce Springsteen
How has COVID-19’s impact on the live music/entertainment industry effected you?
It was coming into a really busy time of the year for shows and of course everything I had booked got cancelled or rescheduled. Hearing that maybe we’ll start getting back out there in September, but even that is still up in the air.
Do you have any advice for photographers struggling?
Not much you can do besides maybe try and sell some prints. Really I’d say to work on the personal business end of it and be professional and better prepared when this all passes and we get back to doing gigs.
Tell us a little bit about your surf skate shop?
It’s called Wheels N Waves and it’s in Wells Maine. I’ve owned it for just over 20 years and it’s been a fun way to make a living.
How did you get into action sports culture?
Mostly through snowboarding and photography. I worked at a ski area most winters when I was younger and spent a lot of time on snow. I had camera gear so I’d bring it and take photos of the better guys at the mountain and eventually started getting some published and getting jobs.
What was coming up for you in the coming months prior to the impact ofCOVID-19 Virus?
I barely want to even think about it. Mostly a lot of one-offs and short runs in New England, the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Capitol Theatre run and some festivals like Domefest, Boston Calling and Lock’n.
How did you get into concert photography?
A friend from college had went to high school with the guys from Blues Traveler and he started a production company after college to basically document Blues Traveler and the bands they were playing with. Traveler was starting to get big at the time. So they’d hook me up with passes and sometimes I’d help them a little but eventually I bought a camera and started shooting photos. There wasn’t many people doing it back then and I wasn’t very good but I’d shoot bands I was friends with like Acoustic Junction and Jupiter Coyote and eventually got better. Then I connected up with Alyson Williams from Dupree’s Diamond News and she pretty much mentored me and gave me my career. They just started putting on the Gathering of the Vibes festivals and she would give me full access, basically what they’d consider the festival team at festivals now. I met so many of my early connections through her and my friends with the production company.
What things do you miss the most with having to social distance?
I miss being able to go visit my family and friends who live out of state. I really miss the concerts and all the bands and crews and people you meet. I miss walking into the pit and seeing the familiar faces on the rail for the bands I shoot with a lot. I just miss the whole scene.
What music has been getting you through these stressful times?
Mostly livestreams and old Youtube concerts. Ween, JRAD, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and I listened to a lot of John Prine after he passed. Also really been enjoying what Andy Frasco has been doing. He’s been the MVP of the quarantine.
When going out and about, what precautions are you taking with social distancing?
Haven’t had to go out in public all that much besides shopping every week or 2 and I wear my mask. I got a sick Boognish teeth mask, so I’m stoked on that. Besides that, just avoiding the beach on the weekends and real nice days when all the tourists come up.
What’s next for Vic?
Looks like we’ll be able to get Wheels N Waves at least partially open sometime in June, so just getting that ready and working on my photography website. Also working on a project with Maine rapper Spose that we’ll be announcing soon.
How can people support your photography?
By following my social media and buying prints. It’s hard though because everyone is broke and new artwork isn’t a big priority. The important support will hopefully come from the band’s management and publicists with decent paying jobs once we can all get back out there on the road.