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Old 11-12-2005, 08:00 PM   #1
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(11-12-2005) A Real U2 Fanatic -- The Idaho Statesman*

[SIMG]http://vh10503.moc.gbahn.net/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=G0&Date=20051112&Category=NEWS04&ArtNo=511120302&Ref=V4&Profile=1001&MaxW=500&title=1&Maxh=400&Q=80[/SIMG]
A Real U2 Fanatic

Emily Simnitt
The Idaho Statesman

Otto Kitsinger, 33, is a U2 fan.

Maybe that's an understatement.

It might be closer to say that the Boise-based photographer is a U2 fanatic.

He's been to nearly 90 U2 concerts, beginning in 1992.

He's briefly met lead singer Bono a couple of times.

("I think once I said something smart-ass, and he laughed and replied in kind, but I can't remember what was said," Kitsinger says.)

And he's taken thousands of photos at the shows.

"How many have I taken? 50,000? Lots?" estimates the tall, curly-haired photographer at the opening of his rock photography show at The Record Exchange on November's First Thursday.


Boise's Otto Kitsinger is a passionate fan of the band U2. He's been to nearly 90 shows and takes photos for fun and profit. He has a display of his concert photos up at the Record Exchange in Boise.

One of those photos made the Nov. 3 issue of Rolling Stone magazine as part of a cover story on U2.

That photo — of guitarist The Edge and lead singer Bono going head-to-head — is part of The Record Exchange show, which will be up all month.


"It was the fourth Boston show," says Kitsinger about this June 2001 shot. "I'd just managed to get a concert photo on the cover of the Boston Globe. I decided to take it easy and not worry about shooting. So that night, of course, I manage to get probably my most iconic image. I should just relax more."

Kitsinger has about 30 prints on display, depicting the raw energy of U2 shows as well as several local concerts.

"It's an opportunity for people to come check out something cool in the music scene," says Joy Hart, marketing and promotions director at The Record Exchange. "Otto has a really good eye for capturing some really good moments."

Like a kid crowd-surfing at this year's Warped Tour, or U2's The Edge standing in thick orange fog.

Fanatic dedication

Kitsinger comes at the photos with the eye and dedication of a fan.

"You take 50,000, 60,000 bad ones and you get 20 that you like," Kitsinger says. "I pay for my tickets. I'm patient and try to get them from the box office for the regular price.

"I get into the crowd and try to capture the feeling of being in that crowd. The fact that I do it well is a ton of practice and a ton of bad pictures you're not seeing."

Some of the photos are the result of sheer willpower.

"I was totally fishing for that shot," says Kitsinger about the head-to-head Rolling Stone shot. "In 50 shows, I never got anything close. It's one in a series and it's the only one with energy.

"You have to know the show and where to be to score that."

Other shots are a little more about luck. Kitsinger was focusing on another aspect of the show when he turned and snapped the shot of Bono in the two spotlights.


This shot, taken in April 2001 in Anaheim, ended up 12-feet-tall in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A 12-foot print of that shot was part of a special exhibit on U2 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a couple of years ago.

And that orange fog shot?

At most shows, the fog was plain white. Kitsinger knew this, because he'd seen the sequence many times.

"I wouldn't want to say the shows are choreographed, but they have habits," he says. "They end up doing the same sort of things."

But on one night, during a show being shot for a DVD, the fog was lighted a smoky orange.

Kitsinger recognized his opportunity and took the shot.

"For two nights they had orange lights, then they went back to white," he says, adding, "that's really the color. I didn't mess with it."


"Because the smoke could easily have gone everywhere and not looked like this, I consider this to be massive luck," Kitsinger says of this shot taken in May in Chicago during the filming of a DVD that comes out soon.

Of course, these shots represent only a very small percentage of the photos he's taken since a U2 security guard told him in 1997 that he could bring his camera to shows.

You can see about 2,000 of the resulting pictures Kitsinger has taken of the band archived on one of his three photo Web sites (www.U2photos.com).

"If you quote that number, you have to say that I know it's ridiculous," says Kitsinger during November's First Thursday kick-off of his show, his second at The Record Exchange.

Kitsinger started shooting the concerts in part to "show my mom why I was going to so many U2 concerts."

He published those first pictures on an earlier version of his Web site and, within a day, he had 20,000 hits. He knew he was on to something.

Over the years, he's earned a reputation as someone who can get the shots that regular press photographers (who are usually limited to shooting the first three songs) miss.

That Rolling Stone photo? And the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit shot?

They called him for the shots.

"There's something gratifying about being in Rolling Stone," Kitsinger says. "My favorite part is they called me."

Life as a rock photographer

Kitsinger, who is originally from Maryland, moved to Boise about five years ago because he likes the town and he has an aunt who teaches at Boise State University.

He's come a long way from his days of temping in Los Angeles (he was the guy who processed the contracts of actors who did bit parts on sitcoms).

"I was working in a cubicle and I decided I'd rather go to shows," Kitsinger says. "And here we are."

Kitsinger quit his job and went on the road, catching Garbage, Depeche Mode and Tori Amos shows in between U2 concerts.

He had adventures: "I got hit by a car after a show in Toronto. I missed a few shows after that."

And he learned how to score tickets to even the most crowded concerts.

He hasn't been shut out of a U2 show yet.

"When you have 15,000 or more tickets to one event, it's rarely really sold out," Kitsinger says. "In cities with a lot of ticket brokers, many tours hold tickets deliberately until the day of or day before to undercut them and let fans get tickets for face value."

Kitsinger won't give away too many secrets, but says he's found tickets from fans whose friends have flaked at the last minute.

"There's a huge community of fans that help out other fans with tickets," he says. "The best? I've been given tickets now and then. Hard to beat that.

"Getting into a show that is sold out mostly requires patience and trying everything."

That's what he did last weekend when he flew to Las Vegas, crossing his fingers that he could get into the show.

He did.

"Luck was on my side," he says. (Although he does admit that "anyone who travels to see a band is crazy.")

But he also says: "The real point of going is to see the shows and hang out with friends.

"People go to many kinds of events with regularity. After Saturday's show (in Las Vegas) sixteen of us (from all over the country) went out to dinner together. Some of these people I'd not seen since 2001, and I have no idea when I'd see them again. The time with them means as much to me as the show."

Kitsinger plans to continue his U2 quest.

He'd eventually like to turn his U2 gig into a full-time career, but, like many artists, he isn't able to pay the bills with his passion alone.

When he's not shooting U2 shows or local concerts, he travels with other bands selling concert merchandise (he'll be in Puerto Rico this weekend for a gig).

Kitsinger says he'd like to spend more time here in Boise with his family, including his 2-year-old daughter.

In the mean time, he'll still be shooting U2 on his digital camera (he dumped film about a year ago because it's a lot pricier than digital).

"The energy of a show, the feel of a room you don't get when hearing a studio album or watching a recording," Kitsinger says.

"It's better when some of the people there are my friends. The pictures to me are an extension of that — the band plays to the crowd, I'm in the crowd. There's an energy on stage, there's an energy in the fans. To capture it, I think you need to be a part of it."


This shot was taken in June 2001 in Boston.


"I was inside the pit area. Bono stopped on the catwalk, looked down at me, about five or six inches away. I'm sure he recognizes me," says Kitsinger about this shot taken in April in Seattle.


This full-band shot was taken by Kitsinger in June 2001 in Boston at the same concert where he took the shot of Bono and The Edge going head-to-head.
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Old 11-12-2005, 08:50 PM   #2
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Wow those photos are just amazing! He really captures U2 as they are meant to be seen. Love the one with Bono in the 2 spotlights and the black and white one above.
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Old 11-12-2005, 08:59 PM   #3
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:34 PM   #4
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Anton Corbijn is brilliant at photographing U2 in the studio or out in the world - but Otto has the gift for capturing outstanding photos of U2 in concert. I really hope U2 recognizes this (as some major magazines and newspapers already have) and offers Otto a job as their concert photographer. Given how U2 loves to have control over everything, why not take the best concert photographer and make him part of the staff? Then put a few of Otto's pics on line for each show - that would be one reason to keep renewing a U2.com subscription!
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:59 PM   #5
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his photos def are quite superb............

ANd I bet i could do almost or as well- in my own style- if i had the luck, the money, and the kind of smallish, hideable camera with a zoom lens on it... {non-detachable kind}.....that I can't afford to buy

I have 10 yrs of solidly photographing all my fave and super fave bands PRIOR to U2....... almost NO LUCK with U2 photography-wise ........yet

this just drives me

< and, yes, I know i sound like I'm whining, bitching, bragging and envious >
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Old 11-12-2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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Strangely, although I've been a U2 fan for a very long time, it was Otto's shots of Great Big Sea that first drew me to his work. There is a level of emotion, storytelling, and yes, that interaction with fans that I haven't seen in anyone else's concert photography.

I also love that he uses digital. As a "semi-professional" photographer myself (I've sold some of my work) I get so tired of the snobbery regarding film. Digital has a place in both art and professional photography, folks, get used to it.

Otto is one of my personal heroes. That's really the bottom line of what I wanted to say.

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Old 11-12-2005, 10:42 PM   #7
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I've seen his work before and have visited his site many times. I'm amazed each time - considering buying something for framing to hang in my house/office, but there are so many excellent shots, I've never been able to decide. Why hasn't the band contacted him yet or offered him a job?

Great work
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:09 AM   #8
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Great article showcasing a great artist - and great fan! Congrats, Otto.
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Old 11-13-2005, 10:14 AM   #9
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I loveth his work!!!!!!!!!! Otto you are the best and deserve a job with U2 as their photographer!!!

I have the bull fight pic...8x10 that I got from Otto last year. It's the one that Bono and Edge signed back in April! It's my greatest treasure! It was so cool, I was reading the rolling stone article and bam there was the very photo! I was like wow, Otto is in Rolling Stone how awesome! Way to go Otto!

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Old 11-13-2005, 12:52 PM   #10
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Great photos.
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Old 11-13-2005, 12:58 PM   #11
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Otto is a great photographer and I agree the band should hire him!!!!

I think its great that Rolling Stone and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have recognized his talent. I hope one day he can make a living off of the pictures, cuz he does such an amazing job.

I totally agree that there is way to much snobbery among old school photographers regarding film vs. digital. I use to be one of them, I hate to admit. But I've been shooting with digital cameras for a few years now and I think its just as valid an art form as using film. I think its great that digital has opened up a whole new world for people like me who do abstract photography. There is nothing like getting a great shot and then being able to add layers of effects on top of it on your computer to have truly an original work of art.
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Old 11-13-2005, 04:57 PM   #12
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Otto.
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Old 11-13-2005, 07:34 PM   #13
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I've got a big print hanging in my office of the Streets photo from June '01. Had Otto print it in black-and-white, and lo-and-behold, it turned up that way on the cover of a book recently!

Great to see him getting his due, and waiting anxiously for his next print sale!
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Old 11-13-2005, 10:22 PM   #14
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Yay for Otto!!!

I've met him several times. I saw him in Cleveland at the Rock Hall, the U2 fan convention in LA, and ran into him again at the Opener in San Diego back in March. I knew of his work well before I met him, and I was so excited to meet him in person to tell him how awesome his pics are. He's such a sweet guy and very modest about his work. I too have bought several pics from him. His pictures are the best!
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:03 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone. If I'd realize anyone outside of Idaho would see that, I'd probably not have done it. Oh well... I guess the embarrassment is done now.

I'll try to scan the actual article so you can see how the photos looked printed; it turned out pretty well, although the text does make me sound like kind of a nutcase.

Photos from Miami 2: http://u2photos.com/vertigo.html

Enjoy...
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Old 11-16-2005, 06:30 AM   #16
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Otto...
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:54 AM   #17
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Otto

I have a print of Bono at the 2001 Tampa show framed on my wall .
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Old 11-16-2005, 09:04 AM   #18
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Otto, I'm so glad you are getting this recognition. Your work is beautiful, and people in the fan community really appreciate that you share it so generously

I only wish you could make a great living doing it!
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Old 11-17-2005, 11:09 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ottofilm
[B]... the text does make me sound like kind of a nutcase.
So you're just like the rest of us, Otto....

Hey, when's your next print sale? I need something colorful from the current tour!
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