There Goes My Hero
A little over a year ago, I was at the Echo Lounge with some friends on a completely unremarkable Saturday night. There was some awful band playing that worshipped the devil putting on one of the worst shows I’d ever seen. You know the drill; blood, burning pentagrams, the whole 1-yard of sacrilegious, talent-less garbage.
Fighting the urge to puke or scream at how awful it was, it was then that I spotted the one person who would inevitably change the course of my entire career. Enter Frank Mullen; positioned in the only good spot to shoot at the Echo, with a camera lens that would make any photographer blush. There stood my hero. His way of shooting is subtle and quiet. Completely unobtrusive, providing no distraction, the band rarely even knows he’s there. He gets this look on his face when he shoots, it’s a look of knowing. I had no idea who he was, or who he was shooting for, but I knew whatever they were paying him, it wasn’t enough.
I didn’t meet Frank until several months later at the Atlantis Music conference. At this point I had a book of decent shots, but nothing worthy of much due to technical-not-know-how. I approached him, and it was as simple as that. Life took a turn I never saw coming. For the next three days of the Conference he let me follow him around, showing me the ropes, explaining the whole club shooting process. For the first time in my short career I felt like a real photographer, because I knew I was in the company of one. When I saw his work, I could do nothing but gape, ooh, and aahh. Frank is the most gifted photographer out there. You could give Frank 24 bands and only 24 frames to shoot and every one of them would have something unique and amazing.
After the dust settled on the conference, Frank proceeded to give me a free Camera 101 crash course. He told me exactly what I was doing right, wrong, and what equipment I needed to think about investing in.
He got me on track with Ink 19, I started writing again, and my whole life has changed completely as a result of knowing him. Some of the best shows I’ve shot were shot along side Frank. His work, guidance, and wealth of knowledge have set a standard I constantly try to reach. I dare say I study his work, and have a stack of just about everything he gets published.
No matter what anyone tells me about my own stuff, if Frank says its good, I believe it. Professionally, he provides me with a sense of validation that I haven’t found anywhere else.
Frank Mullen is a busy man, he shoots constantly, has a ton of Web sites working, and is always moving on something. Yet still, he took the time out to show and teach me invaluable lessons you can’t find in any book or classroom. And at the same time he exercised the purest level of patience even when I drove him crazy with my inability to sort it all out. I still look to Frank for advice, and he always provides it in that wonderful laid back Frank way; free, considerate, and completely giving.
Frank got me up and running, and I no longer have to work a day job. For all these things, I’m forever thankful. No matter where I end up shooting for or along side, I know I’ve already shot with the best.