Updated 7/6/2009 – Well this image has been up for a week & yet, Ive posted no story. Well thats because I was thinking long & hard trying to figure out how I could spin a positive story & I’ve been able to come up with nothing.

Truth be told, no one that I know who attended the Chicago or Detroit Rock The Bells Festival had much positive to say. I talked to one of my peeps in Chicago who was working on writing an open letter to the Detroit Rock The Bells Festival organizers & she wanted my POV from a media aspect. This is what I sent her:

“From a media perspective, I have very little to offer on the Rock The Bells Detroit in terms of concert content. As a photographer & blogger covering the music, sharing my experience is going to be difficult because when you’re shooting, you cannot focus on anything other than getting the shot.

With that said; 1st off, I was able to photograph through the first 3 songs of each performance, which is pretty standard. However, after those first 3 songs I was escorted out of the venue with several other photographers. The only way we could go back in was if we were to put our gear in out cars between acts. This would have been a complete hassle a) because of the distance b) breaking down gear & having to put it back together is time consuming etc.

So basically, my whole purpose for going & driving 95 miles each way mostly a waste. I got great photos but could not report on any music.

Then there was the fact that Bustah Rhymes canceled his performance. This was a huge let down! The acts got shuffled around & I missed two performances because of BRs cancellation & subsequently tweaked artist line-up.

Annnnnd then, there was the fact that I was not able to photograph any of Damian Marley’s performance because he came on after Nas’ 3rd song. The media contact at DTE Music Center was not movable or willing to let any of us capture Damian, so I just left at this point disappointed & wondering if I should have bothered to even attend.”

So later on in the evening after I responded to my girl, I decided to contact my RTB media contact directly with a regurgitation of what was said earlier:


Thanks for setting me up with access to the Rock The Bells Festival in Detroit. I thought that I would share with you the fact that I had a awful experience covering the event as a photographer and blogger.

1) I was escorted totally out of the venue after each and every performance. I was only allowed back in if I put my gear in my vehicle, which was parked a considerable distance away making it virtually impossible.
a) The initial directions that I received did not indicate where to park or which entrance to access etc. This was a minor annoyance.

2) I was not able to observe any of the musical performances, as a result I’m lost as far as writing a story for my blog and readers. I felt that the overall point of my coverage was blown.

3) None of the photographers were able to photograph Damian Marley at all because he came out on the 4th song performed by Nas. Many of us considered Damian Marley a big draw and we were allowed no coverage as we were escorted out again.

I have to say that I was greatly disappointed as a new media member. I truly think that the process at the DTE Energy Music Center could have been handled much better…


Much to my surprise, I got an almost immediate response back. Which read:


I am sorry to hear all this and that you had these issues and did not enjoy your experience at Rock the Bells. You were only confirmed for a photo pass as the amount of press tickets available to us was limited so we could not fulfill your full request. Photo passes only grant access in and out of the photo pits – without a ticket, you are not allowed to roam the grounds to observe the show. I’m sorry you were not aware of that prior to the day but tickets were available for the show.

In regards to shooting Damian Marley, we have already been informed of this issue, which was news to both us as well as his publicist. Standard photo rules for all artists is the first 3 songs. Damian and Nas, as we were all informed, were performing together with their new material so the fact they did not appear together until song 4 was shocking. We have since discussed this with both of their parties to make sure that issue does not happen again for the rest of the tour as you are correct in that these 2 together is very big draw for the tour…

Again, my apologies.


I really appreciated the response back & it looks like it all breaks down to communication, communication, communication, & more communication. Too bad I feel like I was on the losing end of the gap.

Even with the drama that I encountered, I’m sure as a fan in the crowd, I would have loved the festival because all of the performers gave tremendous energy & the crowd was mos def feeling every act.

So since I do not have a more positive & comprehensive story to offer, please enjoy the images that I captured, which tell a different story. A hip-hop story!