Photos by: Mike Wilson
AZN: Yo, what’s good! I’m going to kick this off real easy. State your full name and how old you are?
Wilson: My name is Mike Wilson and I am 29 years old and I literally just got done cleaning up puppy poop. So, that is how my night is going. hahaha…
AZN: LOL. I’m currently at the gym, sweating my ass off. What are your handles?
AZN: So don’t get your hopes up to jump on twitter and find him lurking. You grew up in Brandon, Florida, right?
Wilson: Yeah! I moved to Brandon, Florida the summer before 4th grade from Wilmington, Delaware. I currently live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
AZN: How was it growing up in Brandon?
Wilson: Pretty average I’d have to say. It was more the people that lived there and who I got to know instead of a “how was Brandon”. There wasn’t THAT much to do. In high school we would go to local shows at a church down the road called The Porch. Saw some great bands there before they were anything. I was never a beach person so living close to the water was never really a big deal. Whenever I meet someone in a land locked state they always assume I love the beach being raised in Florida.
Hurricane days were the best though. Having a day off from school! HELL YES.. Most of the days that turned out to be hurricane days always ended up being gorgeous days, so, thanks Hillsborough County School Districts!
AZN: Hurricane days I would say are the best. Just hunker down and enjoy the crazy ride.
Wilson: Haha yeah, stock up on water and can goods and an excuse to bbq outside.
AZN: Haha right. What do you do? What’s your craft?
Wilson: I am a man of many crafts, an “all-sorts” some say, but my main shabang is being photographer/videographer for bands. I have spent the past few years as a merchandise manager as well as tour managing bands while snapping photos here and there. The responsibilities the other jobs ask for sometimes don’t work in the favor of a photographer… if you follow.
AZN: That’s rad. How did you get into the photography game?
Wilson: About 10 years ago a buddy of mine had a box of 35mm cameras and offered me one. I signed up for a photo class at my college and immediately I was pulled into the whole process of film. From capturing the image to developing the final product. My passion for photography grew with every roll I was shooting through. I was fortunate enough to make it into an art contest with one of my first shots taken, that of an abandoned buildings door frame, that didn’t win. Haha.
I finished my AA and moved on to University of South Florida and though I still wasn’t a photo major and dipping my feet in other majors, my heart was still with photo. I got a job for the schools newspaper as a photographer and worked my way up to Head of the photo department and photo editor. I covered various sporting events, lectures, breaking news and of course, concerts.
I was able to snag a freelance gig while working at the school with Creative Loafing, an alternative newspaper outlet out of Tampa. I covered concerts for them for years and was able to attend some great festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Deluna.
AZN: DANG, that’s a hell of a lot of work you put it. So it sounds like you have been around. How many tours have you been on?
Wilson: I have been shooting for awhile for sure, but I haven’t been in the touring scene as long as a lot of my friends have been. This upcoming Fall tour I am shooting will be my 7th tour.
AZN: Word. What do you bring on your trips? What’s in your stash?
Wilson: Camera is number one. Right now I am sitting on a Canon 6D with a 24-70mm 2.8 lens. I am also a fan of prime lenses so I ride with a 20mm, 50mm and Canon’s latest pancake 24mm lens. No telephoto lenses? Nah I’m not zooming in that close. I store all my babies in a Pelican 1510 case. My pride and joy. She rides overhead on airplanes and is durable as fuck. One of the few times I waited by the front door for the delivery man to show up. In my backpack are my other necessities including my laptop, iPad, chargers, notepads and random shit like Tums or eye drops ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’m not crazy about flashes in photography so I rarely carry a flash around. I’m all about natural stage lighting or natural outdoor lighting on my subjects
I always carry more socks than underwear, if anyone was wondering.
Wilson: I always carry two hard-drives on me wherever I go just in case the other fails.
AZN: So do you care about your feet more than your dick?
Wilson: Gotta keep the swag fresh son! You can always get the smeg off your dick, but never the stink out of your kicks!
Wilson: Working Warped tour has taught me to give ZERO shits about changing clothes, except socks. Not saying I don’t change out the skivvies, but, you have an extra barrier with shorts. And shoes come off on the bus, so, you pick your poison
AZN: Man, I get it. We were talking a little bit ago about the upcoming tour you’r jumping on. Who is it and what are you going to be doing?
Wilson: Starting October 14th I will be shooting for Mayday Parade on the Alternative Press tour. I’m really excited to hold this position for such a great group of guys. I have been working with them for the past year in the merchandise end and have gotten to know them. Some of my favorite people to tour with. Plus they are Florida boys as well! Very excited to extend my hand to help get some creative content out there for their new album cycle!
AZN: That sounds dope man. What’s is one of most risky photos you have had to take?
Wilson: Oh man, I’m glad you asked this. I was covering Deluna Music festival in Florida and Weezer was playing. I’m shooting in the photo pit and Rivers jumps off the stage, clears the photo pit gate and runs up some sand dunes while performing. Being the photographer I am, I followed, and got some gnarly shots. People from the crowd broke the gates and were on the dunes with us, great time. Now enter the police. As I’m making my way back to the stage from the bottom of the sand dune a police officer was trying to direct me else where. Me, being the asshole I can be, just flashed my photo badge and said I was making my way to the stage. I was thinking that he thought I was a concert goer who had ran through the gate. Well things escalated quickly and before I could finish my sentence I was in handcuffs being escorted down the rest of the sand dune.
This is when I find out it is a FEDERAL OFFENSE to be on those dunes. There were rare sea oats from what I remember that are on the dunes and if you fuck them up you go to jail. So the cop that detained me was cool about it, was saying we were just going to talk about it and he would let me go. Cool, I thought. Then another cop comes from the stage saying that I needed to be kicked out of the festival yada yada and so on. He rips off my weekend badge and then I’m escorted off the property. This was night 1. Fortunately for me the head of press saw the whole thing go down and followed me to the exit and once I was out he gave me a new pass and told me to stay away from that stage for the rest of the evening. And that is how I was detained during a Weezer set. I still haven’t been able to watch a full Weezer set yet. Meanwhile my best bud and reviewer for the article Andrew Silverstein missed the whole thing. But saw all of Weezer. Fucking bastard.
AZN: Hahaha… crazy. I would love to see some of these shots from that evening. Maybe you can send some of those photos for the S.A.F. zine.
AZN: Sounds like there’s never a dull moment.
Wilson: Weezer, man.
AZN: I know it’s getting late over there and you are heading out tomorrow. So I’ll wrap this up. Be sure to send over photos of your adventure. Thank you for taking time out and talking to us. Safe travels.
Wilson: Thanks for having me! Can’t wait to share some of my work with you!
Co-Founder of S.A.F., Artist and Designer | #AZNmade | #SAFlife