I've been a massive Passenger fan since first hearing him sing a duet with Katie Noonan in 2009. I remember playing Bloodstains for 3 days on repeat going through horrible heartbreak at the time and that song and Flight of the Crow became my healer. From there I was obsessed and listened to his music continually. Every song became a part of me I listened to them so much. I had to share my Passenger passion with everyone I knew. Everyone NEEDED to hear this guy!
I began following him on Facebook. I think he had less than 5k followers then and to my absolute thrill I found out he'd be performing at The Ellington, Perth. It was there I was introduced to him as a live performer and that feeling inside has never left me. I had always taken photographs in my head ever since I was a child and sitting right there on that uncomfortable Ellington seat (if you've been you'll know what I mean hehe) I knew then, all I wanted to do was to learn how to photograph so I could photograph him. I went home after that night and within a week had bought my first dslr and so began my journey to photographing this amazing guy the way I had imagined in my head.
The next time I saw Passenger was November 2011 when he announced he'd be busking in the Hay Street Mall. I'd had my camera a year and hadn't put it down in that year. Photography had become my obsession, my everything. He announced he'd be busking between 12-1pm at lunch time in the city. I was ready! I flew out the door and caught the train, my heart in my throat the whole way. It was a very hot November morning in Perth. I walked as quick as my little legs would take me, sweat fogging up my glasses, my mouth like a desert and wearing the biggest smile I think I'd ever worn. I was a few hundred metres from the mall and I could already hear that familiar voice and then there he was belting out Caravan with about 20 people standing around listening. With Stu Larsen handing out his cards. I wanted desperately to whistle the chorus as I did at home however my dry lips weren't letting me. Pulling out my camera my hands never stopped shaking. I forgot everything I had studied for a year and shot like a kid that had just eaten a bag of M&M's having the best time of my life. From that moment I was hooked on photographing him for every busk session and concert I could get to over then next few years. He'd always busk the day of his performance for those that couldn't make it to his concerts as that's just the kind of amazing guy he is! I became part of a very special world wide Passenger Family which to this day I treasure those relationships and we all share in the joy of him when he visits our cities,
As we know in 2012 Let Her Go hit the big time and world wide fame followed. Those months first listening to him on the radio, hearing it playing everywhere I went was amazing. I was so proud and happy for him. He'd worked very hard for years and years. I felt like a proud big sister. With the fame the busking took on a whole different life of it's own as has getting tickets to his concerts and photographing him. But every concert and performance was just as thrilling and treasured. Last year I was right up the back at the Fremantle Arts Centre, camera-less and I couldn't see the stage but I still relished in his voice.
Having had a rough 2016 breaking my knee and spending much of it trying to come back from the injury while continuing to keep my business going I had decided that for the first time in more than 6 years I wasn't going to go to a Passenger concert. It never sat well with me but I had resigned to it. Fast forward to the week of him being in Australia and seeing the beautiful videos being made and that same familiar Passenger excitement was there. Late Friday night I saw Jarrad had put a call out to Perth music photographers needing someone to take photos at the concert as he couldn't be there. Wow! What an opportunity! THE opportunity! I immediately doubted I could do it, would my knee hold up, I'm to old and in no way hip or cool, I also had my daughter in my care for that weekend and I doubted my ability to photograph live again, it had been so long! But maybe I could? As I sat there pondering whether to message him or not I noticed it was 8 hours since he'd posted the message. I was pretty sure he'd have someone by then but I if I didn't message him, I knew I'd regret it forever. So I bit the bullet and messaged him offering to be a back up photographer for him if he needed it and then went to bed.
Waking the next morning I got on with my working morning at the computer. I took a break midmorning and went onto my Instagram to see I had a reply from Jarrad. I couldn't even open the message for an hour I was that excited. I messaged girlfriends to say oh my gosh oh my gosh! Not knowing anything yet! Finally I gathered myself and opened his message to see that yes he had a photographer already but that he would try and see if he could get my name on the door. He was across the country shooting a wedding in the rain at the time. I waited and tried to keep my shit together. Within an hour, 7 hours before the concert he replied with "your name's on the door" IT WAS ON! I WAS PASSENGER'S PHOTOGRAPHER!
Camera batteries on charge, driving across the city and back to take my daughter to her Dad's the most excited and alive I'd felt in years, I could hardly sit still. Focusing on anything became impossible and I jittered and screamed in joy many many times as I got ready. I arrived in Fremantle desperately looking for a car park close to the venue as I knew it would be a full on evening for my knee and I managed to find a car park surprisingly close. Walking up the hill to the line I could see it stretched and stretched already. Having never been a "photographer" for a concert event like this before I had no idea what the protocol was. Did I push in and say hi I'm photographing Passenger tonight? Or did I just take my time, line up and wait my turn? Silly me did the later and climbed and climbed about a kilometre up the hill to the end of the line. My dear friend and Passenger kindred spirit, Esther was already inside. I messaged her asking her if she thought I should to be in this line? Of course I didn't need to line up! I needed to get down the hill and get my butt inside! My name ticked off the list and given my precious photographer's pass, I was in! Thanks Es!
With only 10 minutes until The Paper Kites would be on stage I gathered myself and stood near the front with the other photographers and press waiting to be allowed in the pit. What a thrill it was to experience. I've listened to The Paper Kites for years and photographing them performing live was very special. Then their first three songs were done and we raced out of the pit continuing to photograph around the fringes of the arts centre.
Before I knew it, it was time for Passenger to come on stage. Standing again at the entrance of the pit with my pass in my mouth I was SO ready for this! In the pit with 6 or so other photographers, finding our spots I had some time to sit and gather myself for a minute or so and think about the first image that I wanted to capture. It felt like hours as I sat there staring at the spot he'd appear from and as I heard the crowd erupt he immersed through the smoke.
The next 12 minutes were truly a dream come true. The love I have for him and his songs took over and at times was to much to handle I became a singing-my-guts-out-and-jumping-up-and-down-with-excitement photographer! It's a thing right? It is now haha! What an absolute thrill! I sang and shot and clutched at my heart and fist pumped the air. Most thrilling moments ever! It was over before I knew it. I gathered my lenses and ran out with the other photographers. I went back to where my friends were which was quite close to the front of the stage and continued enjoying the next hour and 50 minutes of him. My camera never had a break. I was so excited to be freely capturing his essence again as he performed in amongst the 3000 fans. It was truly a magical night. Passenger was on fire! Electric! And all the descriptive wonderful words when something is so damn good! I wanted to bottle everything I was hearing, seeing and feeling!
As I drove home that evening I really couldn't believe what had just happened over that day. From waking up not even going, to this. What a beautiful real-life dream I lived that night. I edited until 3am and forced myself to bed, loving the images I was so privileged to take and still pinching myself. Up early editing to send to Jarrad. Still feeling on a high watching the video I'd recorded and listening to his albums as edited some more. When late Sunday evening Es sent me my photo ON HIS INSTAGRAM PAGE!!! My pic! Little old me! Me and my dickie knee! WOW! What a night! What an honour! Love ya Mike! Thank you Jarrad x