By Gavi Azoff
Beginning in February, Math teacher Andrew Kelly’s passion for photography has allowed him to travel with the rock band, The Lumineers, as the band’s photographer for their ongoing world tour.
Since Kelly grew up in the same town as two of the band members, he helped the band with photography needs while the now famous band was in its infancy. In more recent years, he has joined the group on smaller tours in his free time.
‘For the past 5 – 6 years, whenever I could get to a show or group of shows over the summer or during a break from school I would jump on tour for a bit. This year, The Lumineers have started playing arenas, which means more crew members and more money to spend… so when they asked me to be their photographer on these couple legs of the tour, January and March mostly, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Kelly.
Kelly reveals he remained excited about this possible opportunity, but was initially worried about the time commitment that would require him to miss school. However, the administration and his department head, Steven Rattendi, accommodated his request.
Adding on, Kelly admits it has been rewarding witnessing his friends grow from a small town band to selling out large venues across the globe.
“Being able to travel the world is a major perk. I have been lucky to travel all over the USA with the Lumineers, but also to places I might not have ever been able to go like Norway, Japan, the Czech Republic and Brazil and Argentina just to name a few,” said Kelly.
The only major obstacle Kelly faces throughout the tour remains travelling with the necessary equipment in a confined space to these various international destinations.
Furthermore, Kelly found that since most of the band’s shows are relatively similar, he faced the challenge of discovering new and creative ways to shoot. Kelly thus relied on his experience as an amateur photographer in this medium during high school to produce professional results.
“When I was in high school and college I toured with a band called Seeking Homer from time to time as their photographer. I was young and basically clueless about what I should be doing as their photographer, but I learned a lot about what it’s like to be a touring band and also became pretty good with capturing images in terrible lighting conditions,” said Kelly.
Throughout the first leg of the tour, Kelly expanded his adaption of shooting in weird lighting and other new challenges. He has not only gained more experience in terms of photography on this tour, but has also gained knowledge to pass onto his students both in the class and on the field.
His colleagues, including fellow math teacher Hayley Teich, who knew Kelly’s photography passion outside of school, remain excited to see what he will continue to do at South next year. As Teich says, Kelly could “definitely use photography in a similarity unit”.
Agreeing with Teich, senior Sydney Greene has known Kelly since her freshman year as her soccer coach and reflects that Kelly is willing to go out of his way to complete special tasks for the team.
“My freshman year, he came up with this idea to have this photoshoot for our team and make this kind of cohesive poster that involved all the players in it. That was really cool of him because it took a lot of his time and money to put it together. We had him do it this season too, so that was awesome,” said Greene.
In addition, Greene says Kelly remains a friendly and lively coach, thus she remains excited for Kelly to continue his tour with The Lumineers.
Corroborating what Greene has previously stated, junior Brooke Hackel, who had Kelly last year for math, is excited that Kelly was given this opportunity.
“We knew that he took photos for the band last year, but it’s really cool that he’s on tour with them this year,” said Hackel.
As Kelly prepares to embark on the second leg of the tour in March, he hopes his success in photography and experiences with The Lumineers demonstrate to students that proficiency in math does not define one’s worth.
“It’s good to see people that claim to be terrible at math be very successful in other areas – sort of a good reminder for my students that just because they might be struggling with some math topic doesn’t mean they won’t be successful in other areas – hopefully being reminded of this will help them to not put so much pressure on themselves to perform at a certain level,” said Kelly.