Just what would you do to fully immerse yourself in live music? Are you good to sleep in your car in the early hours of the morning just to get a good camp site? Think you can outlast the sweltering heat for days upon days of music? If so, and it's worth it, then grab some of your favorite cameras and head to Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN.
Bonnaroo isn’t just a music festival, it’s an experience unlike any other American summer music festival. While more comparable to Sasquatch outside of Seattle, WA or Coachella than Lollapalooza or any multi-day music festival on the east coast, Bonnaroo is unique for its summer heat, dedicated attendees, and middle of nowhere feel.
So what do you need to know if you’re planning on attending Bonnaroo? The first thing you need to know about Bonnaroo is that unless you want to spend the big bucks, you’ll be roughing it in Tent City, the nickname for the massive field where most ’Roo attendees set up camp for the 4 days and 4 nights of music. Be sure to cram all your friends for the drive down to Manchester, TN in a car or two and be prepared for a long wait to get past security and check-in. We waited from 4am – 8:30am just to get through the 10 miles of cars into our campsite.
Once you’ve set up camp, get comfortable and don’t worry if you make a mess. After 4 days, it becomes a bit difficult to keep track of everything. Just be sure to clean up your campsite before you leave for good. Also, set up as much shade as possible, because it can get hot and sometimes even wet and rainy. So protect yourself from the elements.
During the mornings, before the music starts, you’ll wake up with the heat of the sun. Be prepared to lounge inside your car or tent as you dine on whatever food you bring and prepare. Don’t expect a nice morning shower, as you’ll be washing yourself with water jugs and hoses.
If you want to get decent shots of the bands or the stages, then be prepared to work your way up to the stage, or check out some of the acts on the smaller stages. My personal favorites where the Flavor Savors of Chicago, for their outlandish costumes.
And Walk the Moon, from my homebase state of Ohio, who never rock out without their face paint (also passed out to their fans) and dance pants. Their shows are generally pretty sweaty due to the dance beats, but the Tennessee sun takes it to a new level.
Don’t be dismayed if you aren’t able to get too many band shots, because some of the greatest photos come from the people. You can get the crowd shots:
Whether it’s of your friends between sets:
or complete strangers:
Because I had so many cameras with me at any given point in time, I loaned out my Sprocket Rocket and Diana Mini to a friend, who thoroughly enjoyed taking photos throughout the week, an easy way to get others into Lomography.
By the end of Bonnaroo you’ll be dirty, dusty, sweaty, possibly deaf, worn out, and totally hooked to come back again.
The Diana Mini is the ultra-compact, petite version of the Diana F+. This camera takes soft-focused, lo-fi images in 35mm and allows you to change between half-format and square shots with a flick of a switch. Get your own Diana Mini now!
The Sprocket Rocket is the first wide-angle camera dedicated entirely to sprockets. And with dual winding knobs for easy multiple exposures, there is no limit to your analogue creativity with this panoramic wonder. See the Sprocket Rocket in our Shop!