Orleans photographer
 gets assignment of a lifetime

By Steve Coleman
Neighbourhood News Staff

September 2, 2005

©Photo by Steve Coleman
for The Weekly Journal

An Orleans resident won the lottery last weekend. For a photographer, the prize was better than money - even though "Under My Thumb" could have been the night's unofficial theme song.  

Lois Siegel was one of only nine photographers standing between the crowd and the front of the stage Aug. 28 when the Rolling Stones played for more than 40,000 delirious fans at Frank Clair Stadium.

"I brought earplugs," said Siegel. "I made friends with a lot of the other photographers there."

The job was with the Glebe Report, a community newspaper covering the area around Lansdowne Park. With 4 a.m. sound checks at full volume, Super Ex might have been looking to mend a few fences with neighbours, she said.

Armed with a new camera after the switch from 35 mm film to digital, the concert was a learning experience, she said. Even though she's been shooting for years.

"All of the photographers were guys," she said. "I was the only girl there and they had all of the expensive equipment."

While she said she's shot nightclub shows and festivals in the past, including acts like Johnny Winter, Dizzy Gillespie and the Juno Awards ceremony in Montreal, the weekend gig at Bank Street was the first major concert she said she has done. The band made sure it had the final say in who took the pictures, too.

Photographers at the show had a long list of restrictions and had to sign a waiver in case something went wrong while they were on the job. And for people at the concert wondering why the first two songs the Rolling Stones played were lit with white stage lights, it was all of the time the small group of photographers at the front of the stage had to get their shots.

"I'm learning every time I shoot," she said. "All we had was 10 minutes."

She said she squeezed 137 pictures into her camera in eight minutes.

Band management kept a tight rein on the camera crowd in other ways too. One of the things they had to agree to before they were herded out was to follow directions on what they could and couldn't shoot - like the audience.

The hurry-up-and-wait routine continued into the final few minutes before the show. Photographers working the night of the show were invited Saturday's press conference to get shots of the stage. They sat around for an hour waiting to get the OK to drag out their gear.

Whether or not it was planned, security guards knew all of the faces the night of the show. And to keep anything untoward from getting out, photojournalists shooting that night's concert were under strict instructions to keep their lenses pointed at the ground when backstage among the band trailers.

Stones front man Mick Jagger likes to go for a run before just before a show to get himself warmed up.

"The rules didn't bother me," Siegel said. "I didn't want to get kicked out. How many people get to shoot the Rolling Stones?"

She said she didn't notice which songs the band played at the start of the show and it wasn't because of the earplugs. Getting into the zone tuned her out of the show.


Lois Siegel's Home Page