The images that Calder Wilson produces are truly a sight that would take your breath away. Starting off college with a concentration in History and Economics, Wilson quickly found his passion for photography. Wilson has the ability to bring you to the scene of the photo itself, which is ideal for the type of events he covers. Coachella and Electric Forest is all about the experience and it is surely one that you do not want to forget. Wilson’s images bring the excitement and draw the viewer in with sharp graphics and vibrant colors.
Did you attend school for photography?
I did not go to school for photography from the onset. I first attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia with plans to study History and Economics, but the very well-funded Photography program soon caught my attention. I took three photography courses my freshman year that were exclusively centered on black and white 35mm film. For that entire year, I shot with my granddad’s old Pentax and spent countless hours in the dark room developing film and making prints. That hands on approach to photography was an immerse introduction, and I knew from that point on photography was something I wanted to pursue, at least as a hobby.
I left Washington and Lee after my freshman year because of the Fraternity culture that dominated 80% of the school. I transferred to Skidmore College in upstate New York where I quickly declared my major in Business Administration. There were no black and white film courses at Skidmore, so I had to fully commit to digital photography. For the following three years, I only took one photography course, committing the rest of my photographic energy on an internship with a renowned wedding photographer and other independent photo projects. After my junior year, I decided photography was what I truly enjoyed doing day in and day out. Even though I was completing a business major, I knew I’d probably never directly use that degree.
What motivated and encouraged you to pursue a career in photography and videography?
The main reason – I’m obsessed with taking photos and videos. The idea of creating something that was entirely my own for a living was intriguing. I had Business major friends looking for work at banks, consulting firms, Fortune 500 companies, etc. The corporate world didn’t appeal to me, because what I wanted to do would become the decision of my employer, and I couldn’t really look back at my work and say “I made that.” It’s this sense of autonomy that compelled me to pursue a career in the visual arts. Another major motivator came from my art professors, friends, and family, who encouraged me to pursue photography because they saw potential in my earlier work. If no one was telling me “you should be a photographer,” I would have been much more apprehensive totally committing myself to photography. Also, a career in photography means that I have an opportunity to do something new everyday. No two jobs are alike; that’s why photography never gets old because I never get stuck in the mundane.
What made you choose to concentrate on events and architecture?
Event photography came easy in college. I got my start shooting music photography at huge parties I would throw at my house twice a semester. My friends - a drummer, bassist, and keyboarder electronic-trance trio called Third Nature – would play in the basement while I photographed the whole thing. I loved capturing these moments where friends were having a good time dancing with other friends. These events in my basement led to events at bars, which led to my first music festivals – Rootwire 2010 and AURA 2011 – which ultimately led to Camp Bisco X last summer. After Camp Bisco, I knew big event photography was what I wanted to focus on. Thousands of people from every walk of life, piling on top of each other while they danced to world class acts late into the night for three/four days straight. There’s nothing else quite like it, and the opportunity to experience the whole thing up-close is unlike anything else a photographer can experience. On top of that, it’s awesome to be able to deliver these captured moments back to the attendee. It’s something tangible they have to remember the best weekend of their life, something that can’t be forgotten.
I concentrate on architecture for completely different reasons. It’s a nice break from the chaos and unpredictability of a music festival. The structure in itself is art, and I have the unique challenge of presenting and then putting a twist on the aesthetic statement the architect made when he/she designed the building. It’s art beyond art.
You have a large background in capturing images for music festivals, which one was your favorite to attend?
My favorite music festival so far has been Coachella. The desert venue itself is an experience. With an addition of massive production, hundreds of thousands of people, and some of the best musicians in the world: you have a photographer’s dream. It’s like Willy-Wonka’s factory, everywhere you turn, there’s something to photograph.
What projects do you have coming up in the near future?
I only have a few projects coming up in the near future, but I’m very excited for Counterpoint Music Festival at the end of September. That lineup is epic…can’t wait to see how Camp Bisco and Lollapalooza’s brainchild turns out!