CHECK THE SPREADSHEET: Documenting A DIY Tour with Tips From Steven Anselm

Touring is eventful and exciting, but the days eventually begin to blend together. Venues and bands blur, and people’s names are the last thing that will stick in your mind. It’s best to appoint a member of the band to take photos and/or journal your time on the road, or even bring along a tour photographer just for that purpose! We chatted with tour photographer Steven Anselm, who takes amazing candids, about his advice for the aspiring tour photographer.

“If you are in this for wealth and fame, quit. Money and recognition won’t sustain you when, buzzing 4 AM on a dim highway between low-frequency towns you question the meaning of music and every decision you have ever made. They will not buy answers to doubts that wake you up with too little sleep, too few reassurances, and too many fights—late again, may or may not be a real problem; bad show, may or not be a real problem; new lover, may or may not be real.

You will be there as relationships fall apart and new ones form. And you will find new friends in ideas that have little to do with music but everything to do with that singular purpose: say something or at least be there. With ears ringing at the party that goes on so long you doubt you should stay, remember you are there to document as it dips into distress, climaxes at the after-party, and exhales heavy into the aftermath.

As for the practicalities of one day to the next: be decent, have empathy, get close, listen well, wear black, use earplugs, add keywords, read books, and know when to put the camera away. No one with a thought worth hearing cares about your photo machine.”

These photos are part of a series that began in 2016 documenting Brooklyn-based band Fruit & Flowers:

All Photos by Steven Anselm

More tips for documenting your tour experience…

  • Keep a tour diary: Long tours can feel monotonous since every day is similar to the last one. If you keep a record of your experiences it will break apart the trip and help you remember weird and interesting happenings in each city, potential contacts in various cities, and so forth.
  • Photos: You’ll be taking photos for Instagram anyway – might as well take more for your own private collection. Be sure to back them up somewhere as well.
  • Film/Physical Photos: If you’re feeling nostalgic it’s nice to bring a Polaroid or disposable camera. You can print out photos from your phone for relatively cheap at Walgreens and other drugstores. My bandmates like to make scrapbooks of photos taken throughout the year – it’s a great way to look back!
  • Recording your set: Some venues can record your sets from the board, and you can even bring your own camera to set up by the stage to film yourself. It’s really nice to have an archive of where you’ve been and how you played.
  • PLAYING BLOOMINGTON: Femme Night @ The Dream

  • PLAYING COLUMBUS: Alien Boy, Perfume V & Lose the Tude at Organon Arcade

  • PLAYING ATLANTA: Sami Michelsen Dishes on Her Electronic-Pop Trio Reptile Room