This weekend, the 2019 Newport Folk Festival came and went. This journal entry is about my own years spent photographing at the festival, with my personal and creative stories intertwined.
In the summer of 2014, a wonderful wet plate collodion (tin types and glass plates) photographer named Giles Clement had me on as an assistant for his wet plate portrait studio at Newport Folk Fest. For anyone who follows music history, you may know that Newport Folk Fest is the 2nd oldest music festival in America, only a few short years younger than the Newport Jazz Festival, both started by George Wein. I flew out and worked as hard as I could. I spent my breaks chemical covered and trading silver baths for my own cameras, walking around the festival grounds to seek out scenes and people that caught my eye. It was the first major festival I ever had photographic access to, and I was absolutely in love. During the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016, I spent a weekend at the fort making photographs.
Looking through these photographs is surreal. They’re moments I very much lived in during a busy and beautiful 3 day span every July for three years straight. I feel the ocean, and the embraces of friends who I dont see hardly enough. I feel the air of the historic Jane Picken’s theatre in contrast with the New England summer heat, and the sun pouring in to the colorful and ancient quarters of the fort. Each year was such an adventure.
I’m a better person and photographer because of Newport Folk Fest, and the people who work there that trusted me enough to give me access. I so, so fondly think of the incredible photographers, Newport Folk personnel, artists, vendors, and festival goers who impacted my life and early music photography career in profound and beautiful ways. I hope that a day comes soon where I go back with a camera or two.
So in closing, I hope that you enjoy these photographs, and if you’ve yet to journey to Newport, do yourself a favor and buy tickets before they sell out. It’s truly a spiritual experience.