On Tour With Rocktographer Laura Burton

By Emily Howland

The Mac Weekly: What is your favorite passtime?LB: Going to concerts.

TMW: What do you do at those concerts?

LB: My favorite pass time is shooting live music.

TMW: What would you call that passtime?

LB: Rocktography. The photography of rock.

TMW: Is that an actual profession or did you create it?

LB: My best friend from high school created it. My professional name is Elbert.

TMW: What is your favorite band?

LB: The favorite people that I like to shoot are This World Fair, ReadyGoes, Wannabe Hasbeens.

TMW: When did you start shooting rock concerts?

LB: A year ago today. It is my one-year anniversary. I got a camera for my birthday last year, Nikon D40X, and I was going to see my favorite local band, This World Fair, and I took my camera with me and their bassist George saw me taking pictures and asked me to send them to him and they put them on their MySpace and I was like sweet.

TMW: Are these concerts in Minnesota?

LB: I have seen concerts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, California, Massachusetts, New York, and International Waters and Australia.

TMW: What is International Waters?

LB: On a cruise. It is a floating music festival called the Rock Boat. The timing of the Rock Boat may have influenced my study abroad choices. I’m not gonna lie. If I had studied abroad in Scotland, which I considered I would have left in early Jan. but if I studied in Australia I would leave in early February and the Rock Boat was at the end of February so that kind of was the clincher.

TMW: Tell me about the shows in Australia you saw.

LB: I saw Wilco, my favorite band from here. Now I’ve seen them on both sides of the equator. I also got into a bunch of Australian music.

TMW: What was your favorite Australian band?

LB: Faker. They are alternative rock.

TMW: Is that the genre you are usually drawn to?

LB: I like everything. Rock, singer/songwriters. Boys with guitars. I have a weakness for those.

TMW: What else do you do in your free time?

LB: There’s this website called stuffwhitepeoplelike.com that’s funny. Some of the things are going to Whole Foods, wearing American Apparel, threadless t-shirts, expensive sandwiches, coffee, reusable shopping bags, Helvetica font, standing still at concerts, glasses, wearing scarves in the summer with t-shirts, Barack Obama.

TMW: What other websites can you recommend?

LB: Postcardsfromyourmama.com and passiveaggressivenotes.com

TMW: Getting back to rocktography, what are some of the major challenges you face?

LB: Poor lighting conditions and shitty bars. A lot of bars have terrible red lighting. But Minnesota has some of the best lighting.

TMW: What are your favorite venues to shoot at?

LB: The Varsity Theatre in Dinkytown and the Red Carpet in St. Cloud. The Fine Line in downtown Minneapolis also.

TMW: Do you think Macalester students take advantage of these places?

LB: I don’t think enough Macalester students get off campus. There’s a really great local music scene here and not enough people get into it. Like last week the bars were open until 4 a.m. for the RNC. They had to apply for special permits and there were eight bars in downtown that were open until 4 a.m.

TMW: What are some of the perks of rocktography?

LB: Free booze, getting into shows for free, making friends with the bands and having good times with them.

TMW: What are your craziest rocktography experiences?

LB: Freshman year I flew to Colorado to see a show without telling my parents. This January before I left for study abroad I went to every show of This World Fair’s Midwest tour because I had nothing else to do. Once I stayed in a hotel room with eight men.

TMW: Do you play music?

LB: No. I tried to learn guitar in high school but I was really awful at it so I stopped.

TMW: What is one of your most embarrassing moments rocktographing?

LB: One time I was at the Varsity Theatre and I was crouched down to take pictures and I fell over like a weeble because my skirt was very tight. I could have stopped myself from falling but in order to save the camera I had to fall over really awkwardly.
I just got a new camera upgrade.

TMW: What is it?

LB: A D-300. And we are in love.

TMW: Why do you use Nikons?

LB: The answer to that is really nerdy and annoying. But it’s because I think that when Nikon’s produce grain it looks more authentic like film grain but when Canons produce grain it looks more digital and it’s unattractive. There are lots of grain problems in low-light situations.

TMW: Are you dating a band member?

LB: I am not.

TMW: If you could recommend some music to Macalester students what would you recommend?

LB: This World Fair and Ready Goes. I have applied for a radio show at Macalester that will be showcasing local bands so tune into that. My website is http://www.myspace.com/lburtrocktography.

TMW: To finish off, if you were an animal what would you be?

LB: A dinosaur because I took the Dinosaurs class at Macalester. Dinosaurs are awesome. I would be a Hadrosaur. They have a big thing on their head like Ducky in The Land Before Time.