I met up with X Ambassadors in their hometown of Ithaca New York to tell their story during a very cool weekend. The guys were hosting their first annual festival in Ithaca called Cayuga Sound. I drove up from New York City to meet them at the airport on a Thursday and didn’t stop shooting until Sunday afternoon. I can tell you they’re a humble bunch and it was great to be a small part of their experience documenting so many stories as they came full circle.
First stop, the airport. Sam and Casey just after getting off the plane. A good way to start their story, the brothers returning home.
Russ as they hopped in limos and went to the hotel to get ready
Adam pre-dinner muggin
Dan Smalls (promoter) and Seth Kallen (band’s manager) being congratulated by Sam at a friend’s and family dinner Thursday night
Friday morning the guys did a panel at the hotel. They talked about creating a fake email address pretending to have a manager and using it to email promoters around New York trying to book shows.
I ran into Adam, his girlfriend, and mom after leaving the panel and joined them as they went to get lunch. Little things like this always seem to get overlooked, but I think end up being some of the most important images.
Loaded up with the good folks at PlusWorks ready to film
We went to Sam and Casey’s elementary school and met up with a very influential figure in their lives
They were surprised with a gym full of kids screaming and welcoming them back
Had to show the sign, but also can’t show the kid’s faces without permission from their parents
Hanging at the library. They said the chairs seemed smaller now…
Calling a friend to tell them about exploring around the school
Quick walk around Ithaca
Nate from the PlusWorks team not afraid to get the shot
One of my favorite images. After checking out the festival grounds Sam walked with Casey over to the lake for a moment between them. Sam grew up going to camp at this lake, and now found himself about to host a festival in the same place.
Exploring Ithaca Beer Co before playing a VIP acoustic set
Russ watching out for the bad guys, ready at any moment.
Tea before the set
It was a beautiful day. I ate lots of food.
One more show! This Fiction (management) also manages Jukebox The Ghost who were playing a bar show that night. Sam, Seth, and Adam all hopped on stage to have a good time and play a song.
This Fiction Management. Good dudes.
And so it begins…
This is Chris. He tours with the guys.
Went into the woods for a quick portrait shoot with Adam. Random portraits always make me happy.
Sam telling old camp stories as we head to the green room.
Another favorite from the weekend. Sam and his dad chatting in the green room.
This is Seth, he’s a cool dude, and manages the guys.
Seriously beautiful venue…
Casey listening to some good tunes backstage
Crush Club put on a great show!
I snuck … well, dove under the drums for this angle. Worth it.
Back in the green room Sam getting ready before heading to the stage
Before we hopped in the car I had us go down a dock on the lake and take advantage of some great lighting.
I think we momentarily interrupted some people chilling, but I also think we made them really happy by doing so. So it’s all good.
Svante Myrick, the Mayor of Ithaca
Coffee before the set
The calm before the storm
The brothers return home in front of 4 thousand people
If you’ve noticed I like going under drum risers, anything to get a new angle.
Still under the drums. They had no idea I was there which I think makes shots like this even cooler.
All them lights…
The backup singers did a phenomenal job. I also love this perspective.
The Roots! Closing out the show
Sam just before joining The Roots on stage
Champagne in hand coming off the stage like a boss
Questlove and the Mayor. Love this shot.
Catching up with friends everywhere
On Sunday they had a BBQ at their childhood home
Casey and his wife Liv getting ready for everyone to come over
Surprise for Sam’s birthday that was just a few days later
I don’t want to show too many photos of this day because it was just close friend’s and family. Sometimes photos are just meant for the people in them, ya know? So… there was a dog. The rest of the photos from this fun day are dedicated to this wonderful, funny, furry, food stealing adorable dog.
He struggled so much to get on the porch, there were stairs just a few feet away. This was hilarious.
Thanks for reading!
Gear Used: Canon 6D
Sigma 50mm f1.4
Sigma 20mm f1.4
Canon 580ex2 speedlite
One camera, two sharp lenses, and one light