My name is Bryan Chong and I’m a photographer based out of Toronto. Since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with all sorts of creative mediums—be it cinema, music, lectures, that sort of stuff. I have a habit of appreciating things in retrospect. Photography and documenting the life around me helps satisfy that.
These days because of social media and how accessible everyone has become, I think people are more drawn towards those in-between moments. I like to keep this in mind with my music photography, taking more of a journalistic approach by capturing things from beginning to end and not just those “picture perfect” live show highlights.
Jazz Cartier has been working closely with Red Bull Sound Select for a few years now. They teamed up on the Canadian stops of his Secret Garden tour and asked me to join to capture both the live and behind the scenes happenings. It was an opportunity that came about pretty organically; Jazz and I have known each other for a couple years now as the creative scene in Toronto can be very small. So in honour of his newest Sound Select, “Nobody’s Watching” (produced by Mike WiLL Made-It), here’s a selection of my favourite selects for that tour.
The pictures below were all taken with my Canon 5D Mark III. Even with the Mark IV out now, I think the III is a testament to the quality of the camera; its autofocus system is still a beast and the images that it produces are stunningly beautiful. My lenses of choice were the Canon-L series 24mm. 1.4, Canon L-series 70-200mm. 2.8, Canon 85mm. 1.8, Canon 50mm. 1.4 and Canon 16-35mm. 2.8.
The above shot during the second stop of the tour at The Garrick, in Winnipeg. We’re weren’t sure what to expect from the crowd. If you’ve ever seen Jazz perform, you know his energy is always at 100. You’ll definitely see more examples of that later on. But we were blown away; the venue went off. They were screaming, jumping, chanting, and for the finale, Jazz ended up in the crowd. I love this shot because of the way everyone’s arms are trying to hold him up, and you can see in his face how hype he is.
Welcome to the green room of The Needle, in Edmonton. It’s totally vintage, board games knocking around, an Nintendo 64 with some games, it was sort of weird. Along the top of the walls were these painted stripes of yellow, orange, and red, and it reminded me of 70s design. We took this portrait right as they were calling Jazz on stage, so we immediately ran upstairs afterwards.
This was shot at Music in Calgary. Walking on crowds, climbing things, performing upside down; these are all Jazz’s M.O. For me, the lights in the venue really stood because I had never seen anything like it. They would light in different colours and patterns like something out of a dream or cartoon. To reach the structure above, Jazz had to literally walk on the crowd. He reached up, grabbed the support beams, pulled himself up, and finished the song upside down. As expected, the crowd lost their minds.
This was on the way to Vancouver, at the Calgary airport. Jazz has two iPhones which also allows for hilarious photo ops; like this, in which he totes his iPhone 6s, his iPhone 7, and the newest MacBook. And the simple background helps keep the focus on him. Pretty badass.
This was taken at the Imperials, in Vancouver. It was the biggest show on the tour thus far, so it was a must to get a shot of the entire spot. 4th Pyramid, or Fourth as we call him usually (Jazz’s DJ), usually has everyone put their phone lights on for one of the slower tracks in the set, and Jazz tells the light guy to cut all the house lights. I guess the light guy was a bit slow on the draw with this one, but it actually made for a dope photo.
This portrait was taken at the hotel in Massachusetts. As you can tell, the place we stayed had a country club vibe. Everything inside looked classic, as if all the furniture was something that your grandparents would fancy. There was a fireplace, rocking chairs, and the hallways seemed to stretch on for forever like a damn horror movie. This spiral staircase was in the lobby and I instantly saw the shot, so I had Jazz pose and voila.
Jazz smiles. Just not for photos usually. This is one of the times I got the closest to catching one on camera. The dude beside him is Levi Carter, one of the openers on tour with us, really good guy. If you haven’t already, definitely check out his music. With that being said, I feel like I’m doing a disservice to the other opener, J.I.D., an artist from J.Cole’s Dreamville label. I just don’t happen to have any photos of J.I.D. that I loved enough to throw in here. My bad y’all. Anyways, this was in the green room before our show in Massachusetts, and everyone was just hanging about, talking shit, and Levi wanted to get a photo, and it ended up being actually one of my favourite behind-the-scenes shots of the tour.
Man—this—this is probably one of my top five favourite photos I’ve ever taken of Jazz (and I have a couple hundred now). Big shout out to Red Bull for making it happen. This was taken out in Quebec, like an hour north of Montreal. Red Bull asked Jazz at the beginning of the tour if he wanted to do anything big. His first two answers were “sky-diving” and “dirt-biking.” We ended up going with the latter. This was about an hour in when I asked Jazz to take a break so I could get a portrait of him. With the dirt bike, all the gear he was rocking, and the chain, I thought it looked like some real rockstar shit.
This was later that night at the sold out Montreal show. To follow up from the dirt-biking session earlier in the day, he ended up copping a whole suit and some gloves to rock on stage that night. I don’t know what happened to his other glove, but I love the fact that they match his NMDs. Also the photo is wild with Jazz hanging upside down yet again. The owner told me that the last time Jazz played here, he ended up bringing the disco ball down, smashing it, so I was definitely thinking that we were in for a repeat of that night when he ended up swinging around right beside it. Luckily, it held its ground.
The Rolling Loud festival has grown quickly to become one of the more culturally-relevant and exciting music festivals in the world, and so, it was amazing to have a chance to check it out. I threw this photo in because of what it means. Jazz has talked before about how, with festivals, you really have to try and win the crowd unless you’re headlining. And so he went on, gave it a hundred, and you can see that by the end of it that he won them over.