Last month we launched a new photography series with my friend Ben Zucker, who is currently on tour with Night Riots. Zucker has been Night Riots’ right hand man (photographer, videographer) for a few years now and brings with him a solid perspective that comes from years of shooting bands professionally, both on the road and at home.

We checked back with Zucker, who is now a few weeks into the Zombies in America Tour, which also features Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Atlas Genius.

This is part two of a three-part series. Part one can be read here. We’ll check back with Zucker one more time at the end of the tour.

Looks like the tour has been fun and chaotic at the same time. How has life on the road been treating you?

Life on the road has been great! Of course it’s sometimes more chaos than fun, but that’s life on the road. I got pretty sick with a cold for a while, to the point where I was sleeping while sitting almost completely straight up. So that was miserable. But I got through it because I had to push. Everyone on tour is seriously so awesome, so it keeps your spirits up even when you’re feeling lousy. That makes a huge difference in surviving the road. 

Thanks for sending in some of your favorite shots so far. Do you have any favorite moments on this tour, captured on camera or not? 

I’m really happy with a lot of the shots on this tour. From the sold-out shows to the days off in snowy New Hampshire, there has been a lot of cool opportunities to photograph. There is definitely one shot that sticks out in my mind, for sure!

Obviously, most people who know me know I shoot landscapes as well as music photographs. So when we got to the hotel and Travis [Hawley, vocals] told me he could see lightening outside the room window, I was pretty excited. On this tour I’ve been doing a lot of time lapsing, so I thought I would take a time lapse straight out of the hotel window because the tour van was below in the parking lot with the storm above.

Unfortunately, I had no more batteries for my remote, but I set it all up anyway and ended up taking only two 30-second exposures. One was a test shot that came out overexposed. The second came out to be one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken on tour. I got the long exposure out of the window, with the van in the lot with a huge lightening bolt directly above! I didn’t even know what to say. I was blown away because it was such perfect timing. 

A live shot I love is a picture of Nick [Fotinakes, guitar] from behind at a sold-out show in Pittsburgh. Everyone in the crowd was flashing the band with their cell phones/flashlights, which is happening in most shows this tour and looks great on camera. But there was something about that night that was different. It was one of the biggest shows on the tour and everyone seemed excited from the start. There were some of Matt’s [DePauw, guitar] family there as well and the feeling was just amazing.

When I was standing on the stage waiting for everyone to take their phones out, just for a split second I stood and watched with my camera down. I think it was a combination of all of those things I mentioned, plus the fact that I felt happy and proud for my friends. It’s one of my favorite memories from any tour. Getting a picture of it was really special, because the crowd was holding their phones but didn’t see or understand the outcome. The only way they do is from my photograph, so to know that moment was captured is special to me. And then to share it with all the people involved is basically why I love photography. 

All Photos © Ben Zucker

Any venues that exceeded your expectations? Or what about venues that totally sucked?

That is tough. I didn’t like venues because they were “bad.” Maybe the stage was just too small with three bands’ gear up there or the lighting was bad. I know that doesn’t mean a venue is horrible, but it makes my job a little tougher. So when there’s room onstage or the lights are good, it really helps photographers. I really liked the House of Blues in Chicago. Every venue has been different and tricky in their own way, which makes it fun.

Have you learned anything new on this tour? Found out you needed anything? 

I don’t know if I’ve learned anything new, unless you want to get really geeky about camera stuff I read about. But this tour has definitely reminded me a lot about certain things. First, I love doing this so much, and I remember how much I love it every time I leave. Second, the guys of Night Riots are the best to tour with. Every time I get to see them play, I’m super proud to be with them. And third, it is possible to remain positive while touring day in and day out.

Sometimes you run into people who just seem so bitter, but there is none of that in the bands or crews on this tour. Everyone loves their jobs and I look forward to getting to the venue and hanging out every day. This tour is cool because it takes a little bit of time to meet everyone, since everyone is so busy fulfilling their roles. But since the tour is long, we have all gotten to know each other well. 

Name a few things you can’t wait to get back to at home. 

Pretty much the only things I miss when I’m not home are friends, family, and of course my girlfriend and her dog. The beaches and landscapes aren’t bad, either, but I love touring as well. It’s mainly the people I care about that I miss when I’m on the road, but it’s OK because I know I’ll see them when I get back. I’m seriously lucky to have the support of everyone back home that understands I’m living my dream.

I’ll let you go man. Be safe and have fun. 

We only have a few weeks left of the tour, which includes going through Florida, Texas and California, and ends in Las Vegas! It has been such an amazing tour. I would definitely like to thank all the new people that I have met for coming out to shows and telling me you love my work. I love all the positivity coming from the fans on this tour.

Thanks Richard and Behind the Setlist for having me again. Can’t wait to catch up at the end!

Find out more about Ben Zucker at Catch him at the Zombies in America Tour, happening now.


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