Minutes before 9:00pm, Drive By Truckers made an unassuming entrance to the stage. Two-and-a-half hours later, New York City would lie in ruins.

Armed with a case of Jack Daniels and enough Southern grit to fill an eighteen-wheeler, Drive By Truckers have been tearing up the country one gig at a time.

On March 26, 2008, the band brought an amazing 26-song set to Terminal 5, NYC. Pulling from nearly every one of their eighth albums, Drive by Truckers turned what started as a sweet Georgia lullaby into what can only be described as a whiskey fueled full-frontal assault.


After essentially being ordered to shoot this show by my brother Todd (www.ishootshows.com), I picked up a last minute photo pass and headed out to Terminal 5. In St. Louis, Todd had the rare luxury of shooting the entire set from photo pit. Though I prayed that this would be the case in NYC, I was not so lucky.

I arrived at the venue to find that the band had requested photography in the pit during only the first three songs. This request was understandable, given that a bunch of photographers running around in front of a band’s biggest fans is generally annoying. Nevertheless I was disappointed. Knowing that the majority of Todd’s best shots came at the end of the night, I was determined to keep shooting.

After the first three, I tracked down the head of security at the venue and requested to keep shooting. To my surprise, my request was granted on the condition that I shot from the crowd. Energized and prepared to turn up the heat, I headed for the barrier.

NOTE: I can’t say enough about the need to be polite and professional. It’s the only way I’m able to make my way through 3,000 people to the front of the house gig after gig.

After a few hundred pleases and thank yous, I ended up at the front of the barrier almost completely house left. Although this gave me no angle on most of the band, it did put me in good position to capture Patterson Hood at the zenith of his Jack Daniels infused encore.


I can only describe the lighting at Terminal 5 as shocking. Though the first three songs were characterized by the hot backlighting I’ve come to love and hate at Terminal 5, the majority of the set was generously lit from front and behind by neutral white lights. At times, there was a disarming amount of light.


I shot nearly the entire set with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L on my Canon EOS-1D Mark III. Though the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 came in handy for a few tight shots of Patterson, the constant movement of the band called for a wider perspective.


At times, this set was shot at…. wait for it… ISO 800 and 1/200 at f/4.0. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that combination of numbers here. Generally speaking, the lighting called for an exposure around ISO1600 to ISO 3200 and 1/200 at f/4.0.

End Notes

This show was fantastic. I don’t care if you don’t like country music, I don’t care if you don’t like Jack Daniels. Drive By Truckers will restore your faith in rock’n’roll. Buy a ticket.

This set is a crystal clear example of what happens when a competent photographer is allowed to shoot for two and half hours instead of 15 minutes. There is absolutely no comparison between the emotional content of the photos taken during the first three songs and the last three songs. The difference is night and day. My only regret was being stuck in one spot for the majority of the show and thus I was unable to photograph all of the band members equally.

  1. Aloysius

    Great photos Chris!
    I really like the one of him spitting out the JD.
    Awesome capture. :)

    Totally agree on your last paragraph of this post. Sometimes I wish the rules would be relaxed more often.

  2. chris

    Hi Aloysius! Thanks for stopping by.

    I like that shot as well.

    The three song limit is a double edged sword for me:

    As a photographer, I would love to shoot ever show in its entirety. Everyone knows that all of the best shots are at the end of the show. A little piece of me dies every time I see the same boring stuff published day in and day out.

    As a music fan, I understand how having a million photographers running around the front of the stage could be a kill joy. I always try to minimize my impact by wearing all black, being polite, and trying to take up as little visual/mental space as possible, but I know I’ll never be able to disappear completely.

  3. Nice set, bro. I’m glad my insistence paid off and that you shot this show, because the results look great. I actually dig a lot of the flare in these shots, particular in the shot of Neff on the steel guitar.

    Among other things, it’s really interesting to see this band lit under entirely different schemes than what I shot at the Pageant. It looks there was much less atmospheric treatment compared to my show. At the very least, this certainly shows the potential of Terminal 5.

  4. chris

    I’m really glad you insisted that I see this show Todd. It was an amazing concert and great to shoot.

    I’ve gotten used to the flare at Terminal 5 for the most part. The lighting was not very atmospheric. But it worked well for the crowd. Terminal 5 is a very deep venue and it’s hard for the people at the back to see what’s going on if everything is lost in a red haze. The generally bright lighting complimented the animated performance.

  5. Really cool set. I definitely agree on the 3 song limit. I had the same situation yesterday: No pit, full venue but time to shoot the complete shows. I ended up balancing on some barriers in the venue, photographing with the 70-200 attached. I’m much more comfortable if I have time to get into the atmosphere of the concert, enjoy the music and try to transport this atmosphere with the songs. And you can time your shots much more with the lighting pattern.

  6. chris

    “enjoy the music and try to transport this atmosphere with the songs. And you can time your shots much more with the lighting pattern.”

    Exactly Andi.

  7. Err, actually I meant “Enjoy the songs and try to transport the atmosphere of the songs/gig with your pictures ..”

    But I think you mean the same as I do ;)

  8. chris

    yes I do =-)

  9. Does terminal 5 throw you out of the venue after you finish shooting, or do you just have to leave the pit area?

  10. Oh yeaaah, I set one of those up a long time ago, and forgot about it.