One-night gallery showcases student photographers’ work on SZA tour


Evan Bell

Jameel Bridgewater, a senior design major, and Bryce Thompson, a junior cinema art + science major, were selected to photograph recording artist SZA during her Red Bull Sound Select Tour Sept. 15–20. 

By Campus Reporter

Following a week-long trip photographing Top Dawg Entertainment artist SZA on her Red Bull Sound Select Tour Sept. 15–20, students Jameel Bridgewater and Bryce Thompson received recognition for their work at a Sept. 30 opening reception at the Elephant Gallery, 704 S. Wabash Ave.

The gallery, which was open for one night, featured photos taken by Bridgewater, a senior design major, and Thompson, a junior cinema art + science major, throughout SZA’s tour, which made stops in Madison, Wisconsin; Champaign, Illinois; Bloomington, Indiana; Lansing, Michigan; and Chicago.

“It was fun bouncing around from place to place,” Thompson said. “Going to shoot, going to sleep, eating whenever you can, waking, editing when you really don’t have time—but you have to make time. You get back up, [ride] in the car for hours and do it all over again. It was a challenge, but it wasn’t a challenge we weren’t willing to accept and handle appropriately.”

Bridgewater and Thompson said they were selected to photograph the tour after Victoria Street, a senior journalism major and Red Bull student brand manager, said she wanted to show their websites and Instagram accounts to Red Bull representatives.

Bridgewater said this was his first experience photographing an artist while touring.

“The tour is just something you are thrown into, and you immediately have to adapt,” Thompson said. “It’s as if you’re thrown into a wrestling ring and you gotta win.”

According to Thompson, he and Bridgewater collaborated on a gallery entitled “LaGalleria” in spring 2015. The collaboration displayed each artist’s appreciation of the other’s work and understanding of how their works complement each other but also contrast without causing conflict.

“It was exciting to be with Bryce, because we had a lot of fun, and we already had chemistry,” Bridgewater said. “It was easy to get settled and comfortable within the tour itself. ”

Thompson said the two received help from the Red Bull staff and mentor photographer Joe Gall on the tour.

Ejaaz Collins, a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said he worked with Thompson when Thompson was first starting his work. He said Thompson has improved his work from when he first started and is getting the “professional polish” Thompson has always wanted to accomplish in his work.

According to Bridgewater, Collins attended the tour’s Bloomington, Indiana show.

“[Bridgewater and Thompson] had great images,” Collins said. “They were really keen. They were always sneaking around trying to get poignant moments of bliss. They caught them really well.”

Collins said he has just recently gotten acclimated to Bridgewater’s work recently. He said he finds Bridgewater’s work vibrant, and it brings out color.  He said he also likes the structure of the images and how he plays with negative and positive space.

“[Thompson is] really director-worthy,” Collins said. “I feel he’s really consolidated with how he’s trying to interpret his vision. He wants it to be very high-budget, and it’s hard trying to get him to shoot something he really doesn’t want to look a certain way.”

Thompson expressed his gratitude to his sponsors for his experiences on the tour.

“The tour was one of the most fast-paced, overwhelming and exciting things I’ve ever done in my entire life,” he said. “I’m so grateful for all the money spent by Red Bull taking care of us, putting on this gallery for us.”