independent

Friday 24 May 2019

Wexford to Coachella

Wexfordman Shane O'Connor has been handed the opportunity of a lifetime by being one of only 15 photographers worldwide invited to take photos at the world famous Coachella music festival in California. Maria Pepper reports

It's access all areas for a New Ross man who has been selected as an official photographer for the famous Coachella music festival in California, one of only 15 photographers around the world to be invited by the event organisers to take photographs on site.

Shane O' Connor (26) is flying to California for the second and biggest weekend of the festival in Empire Polo Club in Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert east of Palm Springs from April 19 to 21, with an expected attendance of 250,000 people over two weekends.

Shane got the coveted gig at the world-renowned festival by emailing the Coachella founder Paul Tollett and sending him some of his photographic work.

The only Irish photographer invited to Coachella, he has been a keen photographer since he was given the gift of a camera at the age of 16, Shane has been photographing concerts for MCD Promotions since December of 2017. 'I've been interested in photography since I was a teenager. I was given a film camera by my mam's boyfriend. After that, I never looked back'.

His foray into music photography began when an American band called LANY came to Dublin to play the Grand Social Club. Shane pitched up with his camera and when someone asked him if he was the venue photographer, he replied with a little white lie that he was. He has worked with LANY directly on two occasions since.

The enterprising New Ross man used the impressive LANY photographs to convince MCD Promotions to eventually take him on as one of their officially approved photographers for big music events in Dublin.

His second concert was the Las Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons concert in the 3Arena. In advance of the gig, in typically direct style, Shane emailed manager Mac Reynolds, a brother of the lead singer Dan Reynolds, who has a law firm in California, and was allowed to photograph the band when they arrived in Dublin.

'Those photos got me to shoot for Niall Horan during the second night of his Flicker World Tour in the 3Arena', said Shane who is excited about his next photographic adventure in California.

After he photographed the successful Athy rock band Picture This, Shane sent images to the lead singer Ryan Hennessy and the pair got chatting, leading to him shooting their Electric Picnic performance.

The significance of the Coachella assignment dawned on Shane when he was sent his briefing pack from Coachella and saw the list of world-class photographers approved for the festival, many of whom he follows, including Gregg Noire and Ashley Osbourne, and his name was among them.

He is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from another world-class photographer and director, Christian Tierney of Dublin, who discovered the singer-songwriter James Bay, and has toured the world as personal photographer for Niall Horan and is currently on tour with Hozier whom Shane also got to photograph at Elecric Picnic.

Shane has been given an access all areas pass for the festival and is due to arrive at Coachella on Thursday week for a tour of the vast site.

The Wexford photographer who has two young children with his partner Mary, also works locally as a commercial photographer and videographer and has been nominated as Videographer of the Year in this year's South East Radio Customer Excellence Awards.

He wouldn't have been able to do any of it - the trips to Dublin and out of the country - without Mary's support. 'It hasn't been easy on her but Coachella is what it all led up to', he said. His ultimate ambition is to become an artist portrait photographer.

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