The Moment : Erykah Badu
Holmdel, NJ 1997
The essence of power and strength, Erykah Badu, captured live in concert in 1997 at PNC Bank Art Center in Holmdel, NJ. She was headlining The Smoking Grooves Tour that also featured A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde.
The Photographed Moment
The image of Erykah was shot during a live performance in 1997. I photographed most of the show from the vantage point of “The Pit,” the area right in front of the stage.
I shot a few moments of A Tribe Called Quest & Pharcyde’s shows from the Pit, but, when Erykah came on stage, I had to return to my seat to watch her amazing performance.
Casually, I still snapped a photo here and there of Erykah’s set, but there wasn’t with the same sense of urgency as if I had been shooting the show from the Pit, in front of the stage. I was able to actually watch and enjoy the performance. Sitting a decent way back still allowed me to capture a few moments, but at a natural pace. I used my Tamron telephoto lens, no flash, one roll of color film and one roll of black and white film.
This Erykah Badu photo is iconic, as it was back in 1997. Even at the time, I could immediately appreciate the image’s captured strength, raw essence, and timeless beauty. After the show, I got the film developed, and tried selling my images from the show to magazines, but somehow no one was interested.
Why no publication bought it at the time was part of the business; you sold some images, couldn’t sell others. Magazines also at that time had specific editorial plans per issue, and sometimes your work didn’t match their editorial plan.
Now, I look back at the timelessness of the images from Erykah’s performance and wonder if it was better off that way, preserving the moment in the archives all these years. People really resonate with this visual, and I appreciate how each person finds a way to connect to her vibe and the moment. It is a good reaction, and a beautiful moment.