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With a Rebel Yell!

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

What do you even say when you've been asked to photograph a complete legend?

When I tell you we were speechless to get the chance to shoot Billy Idol, that barely begins to describe it. Who hasn't heard that name? Even as a 90s kid, I remember hearing "Rebel Yell" playing through the halls of my house or my mom singing along to "White Wedding" in the car. Billy Idol was one of the voices of my childhood - and here I was on the phone trying to play it cool when we were told to get ready to go to Las Vegas and shoot a weekend of his at the Cosmopolitan.

Night one was full of jitters. Brooke and I were in our room, trying to stay occupied until time came to get to the venue and set up. Our gear was prepped nicely - fresh batteries, cleaned lenses, passes ready - but this was the largest scale concert we'd been asked to join, so the butterflies wouldn't stop!

When we finally got to roll into The Chelsea theater, we walked into the pit and looked behind us to the terraced seating. Not a bad spot for 2 photographers more used to venues like Chain Reaction.

For those not into concert photography - the general rule of thumb is that photographers get the first 3 songs to shoot in the pit. Now, let me tell you, after a full day of excitement and preperation, those 3 songs (maybe 15-20 minutes) go faster than you can believe. And yet, by the time we were out of the pit, we had probably 2,000-3,000 shots between us. Now, let me tell you the next fun part - when you leave the venue, you're so buzzed with excitement that you completely forget how exhausted you are, and you go to your hotel room and hop right into vetting through every single one of those photos, and begin editing.

I promise that a couple hours (and a couple beers) later, we finally forced ourselves to get some rest. We knew we still had night two to shoot.

Wanna know the best part about night two? You know what to expect! You know what to expect from lighting. You have an idea of what the artist does in the beginning of their set. But oh no - we got into the venue to find out that night one had an issue with their background video, so it stayed black all night. Suddenly, we found out there would be an entire video sequence occuring behind the band that we didn't see previously. And let me tell you - extra backlighting is no photographers' dream situation.

Okay, so we got lucky and it looked pretty cool, right?

We also definitely might still have "Rebel Yell" stuck in our heads...

Honestly, top 10 coolest experiences of my life. Onto the next adventure!

- Vanessa & Brooke

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