The stories behind killers shots of Third Eye Blind, Blink 182 & Michael Franti, with photographer Kristen Drum

I grew up in New Jersey. An hour away from New York City, an hour away from the Jersey Shore, and just minutes from multiple all-ages venues. It started when I was about 13. Any time we didn’t have school the next day, my friend’s and I were at some sort of concert, whether it was another one of our friend’s bands or a band just stopping in town during a tour. That was also around the time I started bringing a camera everywhere, so it was only a matter of time before I started taking photographs of live music. I may have just barely been a teenager, but I knew that this was what I wanted to do. All the time. Forever. So after I graduated high school in 2009, I went to school for photography and started photographing concerts for local media publications in the New York/Philadelphia area.

In 2015, I was presented with the opportunity to be a photographer for a media company that was based in Portland, OR. Part of this gig was to also be the house photographer at a venue that is now called PDX Live Studio. This really helped to push me further into the music world. I would work with all kinds of artists almost every day, photographing them on stage, backstage, meeting with fans. It pushed me to really dive head first into a world I wanted so badly to be a part of. I made so many connections and even friends within the industry the two years I was there. It was just what I needed to help boost my freelance hustle.

As great as the gig was and as beautiful and Portland is, it was clear I was not a west coast girl and needed to be closer to home, so I landed in the amazing developing city of Detroit. Here I continue to work freelance as a contributing photographer for different media companies as well as artists. The connections I’ve made in Portland with tour managers, record labels, artists and other photographers has followed me across the country and continues to help push my freelance career.

To see what I’ve been up to most recently you can check out my social media:

The shots and the stories:

Third Eye Blind, Stephan Jenkins

This photo is from one of the shows at the Portland venue I worked at. Stephan Jenkins came in from Third Eye Blind to put on an intimate acoustic show for a lucky few. This was a little day-time gig he was doing and he was going to play a different venue in town that night. After the show, the crowd emptied and we all began packing up. I was backstage on my way to my car when Stephan and his tour manager realized they rode their bikes from the tour bus to our venue and they had no one there to bring his guitar back with them, unless he wanted to carry it on a bike driving through Portland. So me, one of the few staff members who drove a car to work, was in the position to become a hero and act as a taxi service for Stephan Jenkins’ guitar, and I was thrilled, and a little nervous! I talked with the tour manager and arranged where they needed the guitar taken to and I was off to go meet them where they had their bus parked. So there I was, getting into my Honda with my camera equipment and now a guitar essential to the Third Eye Blind set that was going to take place that night. Was I in over my head? Nah, I totally got this, I convinced myself. I had no way to contact Stephan or his crew, all I had was this address. And when I put the address into the GPS I realized there was a problem. I had the street name, but the street where I was meeting them at was the name of two streets, one East, one West. I wasn’t sure which one was the right address, but I had a 50–50 chance. I’ll go East. As I was nearing what the GPS said was my destination I was quickly losing hope that I had chosen correctly and once I got there, it was very obvious. I was in some sort of industrial part of the city, no tour bus in sight. Crap. Here I was, supposed to save the day, and I’m about to accidently run off with Stephan Jenkin’s guitar. I quickly put in the other address and scurried towards the other direction. I turned onto the supposed street and have never been so happy to see a bus. Thank God, please get this guitar out of my possession, I no longer wish to have this responsibility. So, I get out of my car and knock on the bus door, and a few seconds later Stephan and his tour manager turn the corner on their bikes. Despite the address goof up, I made it before them and they will never know about the guitar was almost gone forever.

Travis Barker, Blink 182

When I was first let loose into a CD store by myself without my parents, I was about 7 or 8. Before today my boom box was filled with Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and all those bands a girl born in the early 90’s listened to. But I was with my best friend and her mom this time and no parental advisory sticker was going to stop me. The CD I chose? Blink 182, The Mark, Tom and Travis Show album. I was hooked from there. Obsessed. Blink this, blink that. I grew up on Blink 182. But I was still so young. No parent is going to take their 8-year-old to a Blink 182 concert, so I could only dream. Then finally I was old enough to start going to concerts… and they were broken up. I was finally able to see them, and they went on their hiatus. I was heart-broken. Totally devastated coming to terms that I was just never meant to see them live. Fast forward 15 years later and there I was, in the photo pit, shooting the music I grew up with, inches from the band I wanted to badly to see. The first three songs were a blur. As are most concerts when I’m photographing. While I’m in the pit, I never fully hear the music. I’m always sort of in my own world. It was no different this time. I was completely in my own world, but this time I was floating on a cloud. I have had so many once in a lifetime experiences before this, but nothing will ever feel as good as collaborating your art with the art that shaped you.

Michael Franti

The music industry is a big one, but also so small. Once you know someone, you know someone who knows someone, and so on. I had worked with Michael Franti and his band when I was working in Portland and stayed in touch with some of that crew, and now in Detroit, I was going to be photographing him again! You meet so many people in this business and I have to say, this group of people are just so genuine and emit such positive energy that being around them and listening to their music feels sincerely good for your soul. I think Michael Franti is just good for the soul in general. This is a photo from that night. His slogan in Stay Human. So simple, just two words, but they have the ability to change the world. We’re all human. After the show, I was on my way out with his touring photographer and I could hear music blaring in the distance. As we got deeper into the parking lot I saw that it was coming from the tour busses that were parked behind the venue. It was almost 1am, the concert was over, the city was emptying, and Michael and the band were just hanging out on the streets of Detroit. A boom box played on the ground while we talked and danced around it. Strangers joined us, and all were welcome. I felt like I was among family who I had only met once and some never before. It’s experiences like this that really remind me how special this job is, and I never take it for granted. Stay human.

~Kristen Drum

*Canon 5d mark iii camera used on all photos

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