Summer Spirit Festival 2014

The Summer Spirit Festival is a festival show with a nice mix of R&B/Soul music, and go-go. Perfect for a Washington, DC area audience. Headlining this year's show, was Lauryn Hill. Sorry, "Ms. Lauryn Hill".

Unfortunately, I arrived a little late to the festival, so I missed the first couple of acts, which I try to avoid, because the opening acts, are usually headliners, years later. I like having throwback photo content, for those "I remember when..." conversations.

I was able to shoot Meshell Ndegeocello, Raheem Devaughn, Talib Kweli, Janelle Monae, and Ms. Lauryn Hill. It was my first time shooting Janelle Monae since 2010, at the same annual festival event. I have seen her perform several times since, but only as a fan. 

Upon arrival, my immediate objective was to hand-deliver some framed photos. One for Lauryn Hill, one for Janelle Monae, and one for the show promoter/producer. After about a hour, the prints were tucked away in the back office, so I didn't have to carry them around all day. With the, now, free hand, I could head straight to the bar. Whiskey in one hand. Canon 5D Mark III in the other. Smh. 


Toward the end of Janelle Monae's set, she climbed over the steel barricade to be one with the people. Unfortunately, I was positioned in a corner, where the venue staff required us [ Photographers ] to stand, and not in a good spot to sneak a photo. About 2 seconds after she jumped off of the stage, I ran to another area, not too far away, where the staff couldn't see me, and fired away. Janelle Monae surrounded by a sea of people with their glowing cellphones and iPads was definitely a moment worth capturing. And, I did not get tackled or harassed. 

To my surprise, we were allowed to shoot the first 4 songs of Ms. Lauryn Hill's performance, as long as we signed a waiver. I've trained myself to get what I need within the first 2 songs, so by the 3rd song, I can get a little creative. I just wish there weren't so many red and yellow lights during her set. Red and yellow lighting usually pushes me to convert the images to black and white.

Immediately after Janelle Monae's set ended, I tracked down someone to escort me backstage for the gifting moment. The framed a photo of her was captured 4 years ago, at Summer Spirit Festival 2010. She seemed to like the photo, so I was pleased. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Lauryn Hill after the show ended. I gave her a print from a past show, that she did with Nas, in Washington, DC, and she immediately recognized the photo. Here's how it all went down.

I said, "Lauryn, I have this photo for you."

She said, "That's from the Nas show, you shot this? You want me to sign it?"

I said, "Yes, I shot it. But, no, it's for you to keep."

She said, "Oh, wow! This is dope. And what is your name?

I said, "LaVan." ***spoken in my best Barry White voice

She said, "It's a pleasure to meet you LaVan."

Me: ***Compliments Ms. Lauryn Hill on a great show

I said, "Do you mind if we take a photo together?"

She said, "Nah, I don't mind, come on. You want me to hold up the photo in it?"

I said, "Nahhh, no need."

***Handed-off my iPhone.

***She put her arm around my shoulder, and I have yet to decide if I'll wash that shirt.

photo 2-7.JPG

Currently, I have 2 shirts with same laundry-related issue. There's this one, where Lauryn Hill's arm rested oh-so-comfortably on the shoulder, and the other, where Chaka Khan's arm hug ever-so-tightly around my back. If anyone has any advice, please email me at...

I'm kidding. I promise you, I'm kidding. I washed the shirts. I just didn't want to.

Note to self:

Invest in a nice point and shoot camera, because the iPhone's camera is trash.