If you haven’t followed Bon Jovi in a long time, you might be surprised to know that they were the #1 grossing tour in 2008 and 2010. They continue to put out new music, tour constantly, and sell out shows—including 80,000 seat stadiums in the US and overseas.
When I started working with the band in early 2010, they booked me to do Gigapans at a few of their concerts. I would fly into a city, do my thing, and get out. I was still working for other clients like Sports Illustrated and was on the road all summer as the official tour photographer for Sarah McLachlan Lilith Fair. But somehow I was able to make the timing work.
While the Gigapans were successful, Jon Bon Jovi really liked the traditional still photography I was doing. So the band put me on a tour bus and I shot many of their concerts and appearances through the end of the year.
I covered so many events because we were offering prints and custom photo books for sale from each show through my company, TourPhotographer.com. I created it six years ago so that fans could get high-end photos of their favorite artists without having to worry about taking bad photos with their cell phones.
My goal is to bring the artistry back to tour photography by making photos that fans want to frame and hang on their walls. It also allows me to do the kind of work I love, and the artists make money too.
Since I was doing a lot of backstage photography, Jon asked me to travel with the band, instead of their crew, in 2011. That meant I would spend the rest of the tour flying on the private jet and staying at fancy hotels all around the world.
No complaints from me.
The European summer tour leg was an amazing experience. It started in Croatia and ended 17 countries and 8 weeks later in Portugal. By this point, I went everywhere with Jon. I photographed him on stage, backstage, at dinner, and in his hotel room.
Some of the more personal photos may not be published for a while. For example, during this rainy show in Helsinki, Jon tore the meniscus in his left knee.
He somehow performed for another two hours and finished the show. Afterwards, he was in obvious pain as his knee was examined. This photo has not been shown until now.
In the car back to the hotel, we didn’t know how serious the injury was, or how it might affect the remaining shows on the tour.
Amazingly, Jon didn’t cancel any shows. He wore a brace on his knee so he didn’t damage it any further, and even showed off his temporary cane at a concert in Denmark. The crew made it for him with a shaker on the end.
A few weeks later, he had surgery in Ireland to remove the torn meniscus. I was in the operating room with him as he was put under for the procedure. I’m holding on to those images for now.
Here are a few more photographic highlights.
I went up in the rafters at the Air Canada Center in Toronto to get a different perspective.
Jon and Richie Sambora shared a moment outside our hotel before dinner in Istanbul.
I had a unique view of the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest. The building was designed by the Ceausescu regime, but he was overthrown and executed before he could move in.
In Oslo, there was still some light in the sky just before midnight as the show came to an end.
At the end of tour in Lisbon, I asked Jon to turn everyone around so I could document the occasion.
Since the tour ended, I’ve photographed some personal events for Jon. For example, he visited the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor with his family.
Jon Bon Jovi is one of the subjects that photographers dream about. He appreciates the value of documenting this crazy life that he and the band get to experience.
I’m so happy to be along for the ride.