Did you always want to shoot music or did you want to be a photographer and music happened to be your subject?
It was always something I wanted to do. I think the whole reason I got into photography was that I grew up in a small Iowa town, but I subscribed to Rolling Stone and Alternative Press and Spin. Seeing those iconic covers—I remember specifically the cover of AP where Tim Armstrong was on the cover. I was like, “I wanna shoot these bands. This is what I wanna do.” So I do owe it all to magazines like AP and Rolling Stone for getting me into photography. If you can’t play music but you’re still creative, pick up another art form to somehow get involved with music.
Do you prefer to shoot live photos or posed?
I would say posed more than live. I like live photography. It’s great and it’s fun, but I like the collaboration with the artist. Like I said before, working with Pete was a collaborative effort. It’s fun talking about ideas, and I’m totally open to hearing their ideas. I’m just so into placing people in their weird, strange environments. As a photographer, shooting a band for a magazine, you have to be conscious of wanting someone to stop on that page to look at that artist. You’re sort of selling that artist, and you want to get an image that’s strong enough to get a reader to stop on that page and read the article. So that’s always a very conscience thought of mine. What will make some 15-year-old kid stop when they’re flipping through a magazine and pause for a second and maybe read the article? Trying to come up with those ideas is fun, and running it by bands and having them come up with ideas. A lot of times, bands are just fun and super-into it and are willing to do crazy things for you.
Besides Fall Out Boy, you worked with a lot of bands right before they really broke out, like Paramore and Thursday. When you see these bands, who you started with from the beginning, become this huge sensation, does it still surprise you?
I’ve gotten used to it, but I still love it. Like you mention Paramore and Thursday. Those two bands, and Fall Out Boy, are bands where I hadn’t heard any of their music prior to photographing them. Upon meeting them, they were so focused and so driven and knew exactly what they wanted and were willing to collaborate and were smart but still funny and fun to be with. I knew these bands were going to be big because they just had this certain attitude. I don’t know what it was, but it was a sort of confidence and determination and an intelligence that the bands had. I remember the first time I worked with Paramore, I was thinking, “If this band don’t break up, they’re going to be massive.” I had photographed them earlier in the day, and then they had a show opening for somebody. I went and checked it out, and I was just standing there shocked thinking, “This band are going to be the biggest thing ever if something doesn’t happen.” Eventually, something did happen, but they stayed together. That’s the kind of vibe I got from a number of bands. I love it. I’m so happy when they [become] successful. I never get that sellout vibe; I just think of it as the most positive thing. I lost touch with them, but that’s okay; it’s not about me, it’s about them. And the great thing is I love all of their music. I’m a huge Fall Out Boy fan, and I wasn’t when I photographed them, so that’s cool. Now I think that they’re genius and one of the best bands out there right now.
Is there any musician you haven’t shot yet who you would like to work with?
Oh god, there are several. If I could shoot Elvis Costello or Bruce Springsteen I’d probably just die. I’d throw my camera down and say, “I’m done.” As far as local bands, I’ve never photographed Alkaline Trio, which is like the only local band I haven’t worked with. I’d love to shoot Green Day, Blink-182. Sometimes you want to shoot bands who are a little more iconic, and I think they’d be fun to work with.
When you see the cover of Take This To Your Grave, does it take you back? Does it seem as iconic to you as it does to everyone else?
I can’t forget about it because I have a gold record hanging in my house. But sometimes you kind of lose touch. It’s no longer your image; it kind of becomes everyone’s image. Everyone gets to enjoy it, the fans have that album. Sometimes you just kind of remove yourself.
Does that make it even cooler?
Yeah, it is. When you’re in a record store with a friend and that album’s sitting out–it’s funny because I remember the day very well, and if I go back and think about it when I was actually doing it, I had no idea what to expect of the band really. So it’s so weird that 10 years later it’s such an iconic shot. But I love it because you never know what’s going to happen, and I never know if the band I shoot next is going to be huge. ALT
Bonus: APTV interview:
To see more of Bakerink's photography visit ryanbakerink.com.