In Part Two of this two-part interview series, we look back on Eddie Boy Escudero's career in music and photography.
Read Part One here.
This is a selfie of photographer Eddie Boy Escudero and then-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted when the band visited Manila in 1993. He stopped by Club Dredd to do some promo and ended up onstage with Basti Artadi and the rest of Wolfgang. Eddie Boy was there to document it, of course.
"Mention his selfies!!!! Hahaha. If anything that’s something I’m proud to have gotten from him! High School palang pro selfie taker na ako on any of my film cameras!" Juane, Eddie Boy's only son tells me as we talk about the older Escudero's photography.
Like the rest of us, Eddie Boy has been staying home this quarantine season. "My negatives keep me sane," he tells Bandwagon when asked how he's coping while in lockdown with no weddings to shoot for now.
The past couple of weeks, he has been scanning his negatives and sharing his photo archive on his Facebook page - from small intimate gigs to massive gatherings, fashion shows to socialite parties, baptisms to weddings, Eddie Boy seems to have shot them all.
We speak to the man who shot the '90s about his music industry career, his favorite gear to shoot with, and his life as a photographer.
Tell us about how you started your career in the music industry.
My first job was with JEM Recording Co. and was in the Entertainment Dept under Leo Rialp who managed the company’s artists: APO Hiking Society (who were also part of management,) Hajji Alejandro, Maria Cafra, Florante, Jacqui Magno, Jakiri, and Passionata. They also recorded Pinoy Jazz 1 and 2 which featured the music of Eddie Munji and Ryan Cayabyab.
After JEM, I worked with The New Minstrels, and then booking agent, Tony Mancuso, who brought acts from abroad like Eartha Kill, Canned Heat, and the James Last Orchestra. Then I managed multi-award winning show band, Something Special, when during the Singapore gig, I bought my first camera.
Other jobs were: manager of Great Performances, the company that produced hit shows like Tit for Tat and Celeste, Komiks Konsyerto, production manager of Thirdline Productions which managed the APO and Joey Ayala, and then I managed a blues band, Newly Industrialized Combo.
My last job was with Loudhouse Music which produced the Alert Level album, and managed Rizal Underground, Tropical Depression, and the Breed. My music industry career ended in 1996 when became a professional shooter.
How did you eventually branch out into music photography?
With those jobs and a camera, it was hard not to use it during my artist’s performances.
Do you remember the first live music photos you ever took? Describe them.
I managed Something Special for four years. They performed in the best hotel venues and theaters. They performed in shows that featured other artists, most notably was the Metro Manila Pop Music Festival where they interpreted three winning songs three years in a row. Sorry, I can’t remember the details anymore unless I find the pictures.
Aside from live music coverage, you also shot artist/ band portraits. Who are the artists you’ve worked with?
The artists I worked with of course. In 1994, I accompanied superband, Tala, to the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, Netherlands. Aside from Tala, I was able to shoot some of my favorite jazz, blues, and worldbeat artists there [including B.B. King].
I also shot the album covers of Alamid, Color It Red, Rizal Underground, The Youth, Tungaw, and several inside sleeves. Many other bands that weren’t too well known asked me to shoot their press material. The most well known though was Rivermaya.
You have such a wide range of work - looking through your archive, you’ve covered intimate gigs, big concerts, nightlife and club scene, fashion shows, etc. How did you become a part of so many different communities?
I love music and dancing so I went to gigs and parties quite often. Many times I was hired to shoot while I partied. What a job! Oh, the Inquirer was one client sent me to fashion shows and the “sosyal” parties that I didn’t really go to.
Who were your contemporaries in that era?
Shooting the early music scene, the late Didits Gonzales, was a regular at the punk and hard rock scene. During the sosyal parties, I’d often shoot with Alex Van Hagen. At the fashion shows - Carlo Ma. Guererro and Patrick Uy. Of course, the photojournalists of the dailies then, too.
You previously mentioned that you were the official photographer of Rivermaya for their first album’s Record Bar tour? Did you go on tour with other acts as well? What was that experience like?
I toured with all the artists I worked with. It was great fun most of the time. We usually were booked in the best hotels, fed awesome food, and treated like rock stars which they actually were.
You also covered the recording of the Centennial album with some of the ‘90s biggest acts, take us through that time.
Rivermaya manager and PR consultant, Lisa Nakpil was BMG’s PR person and she hired me to cover this project. I knew everybody then so I was no stranger which is why I had pictures that weren’t all posed.
How was the music scene back then? How was it for music photography?
I witnessed the birth of what I call the Second Pinoy Rock Revolution, the first being in the '70s during the DZRJ days. Those were the best years to train as a music photographer.
What are your top 3 live music photographs?
Naku, there are too many. That is an impossible question to answer.
What was your favorite camera set up to shoot live music with?
Then, I used Minolta auto focus cameras with 70-200 lenses and ISO 800 and 1600 film if they were available.
How different was shooting music back then compared to today in the digital age?
Definitely much more difficult then but you eventually get the hang of it so it becomes second nature. But a lot of hit and miss too because of the stage lights going on and off, changing colors, etc.
Does shooting in film affect the way live music is captured? How so?
It doesn’t really matter too me. High ISO film though gives you a lot more grain. Digital technology makes shooting so easy already, my favorite camera now is my iPhone.
How many rolls of film did you use when shooting a single show?
Anywhere between 1-5 rolls.
Did you post-process your film photos (e.g. dodging, burning)?
Nope. The printers take care of that. I was too lazy to process and print my film.
How do you choose the best shots?
The one with most drama and perfect exposure are the first I look for. Unfortunately, many concert pics have this so it becomes a tedious process choosing.
What makes a good live music photo?
Drama and lighting.
In a Facebook post, you shared that your music industry despedida at Club Dredd was aired on NU107. What was it like saying goodbye to your gig days? Can you share with us some of your memories from that night?
Said goodbye to my music management years. I was getting too busy shooting, I started to miss gigs, I decided to shift careers.
I loved the blues and knew a lot of blues bands and musicians who loved playing it, so I invited everyone to play on my birthday (well, the day after.) In my excitement, I ruined two rolls of film so I was only able to capture the last few hours and acts.
How has your process changed now that you’re shooting weddings?
Not really because I am still alert and on the look out for the perfect shot. Weddings are the most difficult to shoot though because this can only happen once and a screw up is never acceptable.
When did you realize that photography can be a lucrative career?
When I became a wedding photographer.
Everyone’s staying at home at the moment. How are you dealing with the lockdown?
My negatives are keeping sane.
Follow Eddie Boy Escudero on Facebook.