Photographing Porter Robinson's Second Sky Festival

I’m super grateful I had the opportunity to photograph this event! It was the first festival I’ve taken photos of (and been to), and it was definitely a memorable day. Second Sky was so unique because the lineup was handpicked by Porter, so they were all his friends/people that have inspired him. Over 30,000 people were in attendance over the two days!

I got to shoot the event because I applied for a media pass (I worked for my school newspaper) basically right when the show was announced months ago. Before I photograph an event, I try to get familiar with the artists’ music if I don’t already know it, so it’s easier to predict certain moments and just vibe better. I barely had the opportunity this time around (except for already knowing just a few songs), but I still had a blast at the festival and discovered lots of new music I loved!

The event lasted two days, but I could only go Sunday. It was a 10 hour event but even in the beginning, people were pouring in because Porter himself was opening the show as Virtual Self. It was pretty cool because it encouraged fans to check out artists they might not have known otherwise. Porter’s love and appreciation for everyone in the lineup was seriously amazing and contagious.

 
 

For photo restrictions, I was allowed in the photo pit for the first 15 minutes of a DJ set or the first 3 songs of a band. I wasn’t allowed onstage or backstage, but I could go into a media area towards the back and the VIP section. The 3 song restriction is typical of big shows like this. When I first heard of the rule at a different show I was disappointed, but I quickly realized that the audience doesn’t want to see photographers swarming the area for a whole show. Plus, the restriction pushes you to get the best photos you can during a time limit, so it’s a good growing experience!

Nina Las Vegas was the first act after Virtual Self. At one point she asked, “How good was my opener?” (referring to Porter), and the audience cheered. There was such a good, wholesome dynamic among all the artists, and it was heartwarming to see.

Wednesday Campanella had a charismatic and unique performance. I didn’t know her music at all beforehand but it drew me in. More than anything, she just seemed so free and happy.

porter-robinson-second-sky-wednesday-campanella
 
 

The visuals were especially amazing throughout Anamanaguchi’s set. The music was awesome, and only later did I find out that they did the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World!

 
 
 
 

I’m not sure how to describe Chrome Sparks’ sound except for the word “unique.” With beautiful sounds and manipulated vocals, this performance was something I had never seen before.

Chrome Sparks

 
 

I can’t say enough about how good Kero Kero Bonito was! I loved their energy and catchy songs so much.

<< HOW MANY SHRIMPS DO YOU HAVE TO EAT / BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR SKIN TURN PINK? >>

Cashmere Cat had a great performance. I only took a few pictures since that was the only time I had to eat, but there was also something nice about just relaxing and enjoying the set. (When I take photos, sometimes it’s a struggle not to headbang.)

 
 

G Jones couldn’t make it on Sunday, so there was a secret guest. People online were guessing who it could be — Ekali? Slander? Porteon (Porter btb Madeon)? Then Porter went onstage and expressed regret that the secret guest couldn’t make it. The audience was disappointed, but Porter brought out the mascot for the event: Potaro.

“His name is DJ Potaro,” announced Porter. “He’s a new DJ, but he’s really really good, trust me. I’ve seen him spin, it’s insane, plays a bit of everything. Now he doesn’t have a lot of manual dexterity, not a lot of range of motion with the hands so he does need a bit of help with pressing play…so I’ll get him started today. But first, make some noise for DJ Potaro!”

As the crowd cheered, Potaro unveiled himself as none other than Skrillex! The crowd went wild. Most of the photographers were blown away too, completely caught off-guard.

 
 
 
 

Madeon was the second to last act. I’m not sure what to say, it was just so beautiful and the visuals were so amazing.

 
 

During concerts I really like to capture moments in the crowd, like people’s happy expressions and hand symbols like peace signs or hearts. When I saw that pizza box, I knew I had to snap a pic too.

 
 
 
 

And finally…Porter’s set. :’) I’ve been talking about visuals a lot in this post, but the visuals for Porter’s set were seriously unforgettable. Combined with the lights and effects like smoke and fire…ahh I can’t say enough. I hope these photos can do his set justice.

 
 
 
 
 
 

After Porter did an encore song, I started putting away my camera. Another photographer called out and said, “One more song! Shelter!” I got out my gear in a hurry and got into position. By that time, people in the audience were leaving too. When the song began, the crowd started screaming and rushing back to see Porteon.

Even almost two weeks later, I can’t get over what an incredible experience this festival was. The way everything was organized, the amount of love everyone gave each other…seriously unforgettable. Second Sky is coming back in 2020; if you didn’t experience it the first time, hopefully you will next year!

If you have any questions about concert photography (settings, rules, how to get into it, etc.), let me know! I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post dedicated to how I got into it and give some tips. I still have a long way to go in my career, but I’d love to help introduce concert photography to anyone I can. ^_^