Behind the Scenes: Chronicles from the Coachella Photo Pit

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Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong by Piper Ferguson

Piper Ferguson is an LA-based photographer and I asked her to share her favorite photos from the first weekend of Coachella, as well as the stories behind how she grabbed them!

Pulp by Piper Ferguson

Pulp – I’ve never been more excited to see a band at Coachella as I was to see Pulp on Friday night.  We weren’t able to enter the photo pit until the 4th song (it’s usually first 3 songs always) so me and 4 other female photogs sang along together near the big screen, being shushed by the PR lady over and over.  Jarvis definitely knows how to work it for the camera, he even holds his pose long enough to get the shot!

Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong by Piper Ferguson

Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong –  2 of my ALL time favorites This photo  almost didn’t happen as it was so windy the lights were swinging and swaying.  Groups of men stood on stage staring up for quite a while to make sure we wouldn’t be in danger. Thankfully, we got to go back into the pit.  I notice Tim sets himself back to really give Jimmy center stage.

Noel Gallagher by Piper Ferguson

Noel Gallagher –Noel walked out with a big smile on his face looking down as everyone cheered.  I grabbed quite a few shots. It’s not about getting a shot of him jumping or doing something crazy, it’s the subtle nuance you want to capture with someone like Noel, even when he cracks a little smile it fills the field.

Refused by Piper Ferguson
Refused by Piper Ferguson

Refused – Although I got so many energetic shots of Dennis and the boys  from the pit, This photo was taken at the very end of their set while I stood in VIP with many singers of many bands watching his every move.  It encompasses the explosive energy, performance and their powerful message.

Madness by Piper Ferguson

Madness –I actually walked into the pit as they were already playing and started snapping lots of photos of the toaster on stage, thinking it was Suggs, they look a lot alike, then I looked to my right and thought, there’s the main mod man! Suggs was definitely on point that day and looking happy to be in the desert.

St. Vincent – Rarely do I see as many photographers in a pit as I did for Annie.  Everyone wanted to shoot her sound and vision. Her crowd surfing at the end stole the festival as far as I was concerned.

Kasabian by Piper Ferguson

Kasabian – They came out fierce as ever.  I shot them at Coachella years ago, and they have definitely stepped up their game as a band.  Tom ran around so much and it was really dark, so it was challenging to get the shot I had in my mind, but in the end, I wanted to see him and Serge together like this.

M83 by Piper Ferguson

M83 –  Someone came out dressed as what appeared to be Alf in a black cape.  I thought it was going to be Anthony, but it was kinda random.  I felt so fortunate getting to be so close but I went to shoot Refused so I missed Rhianna and Katy Perry. Oh well, I would have rather shot Refused anyway…

Arctic Monkeys by Piper Ferguson

Arctic Monkeys – Alex Turner is such a pro.  I loved photographing their 50’s leather clad style.  Just looking at them through the lens, capturing their energy, was so fun for me,  it felt like instantly classic images coming up on my 5D LCD.

James by Piper Ferguson

James – This was awesome because he dances like NO ONE is watching!  When he played the big hit “Sit Down Next To Me” he went into the audience and really embraced his fans, the entire crowd, it was really beautiful. I was singing along taking photos, I looked up on the big screens and saw ME! It was funny!