My name is Rob Schanz. I’m 24 years old, live in San Francisco, and I’m a contracted photographer for an internationally touring chamber orchestra. Roughly every two months, I embark on a trip with them for about two weeks. The destinations range from Mallorca, Spain, to Helsinki, Finland. We stay in some of the most beautiful hotels, wine and dine in some of the most amazing restaurants, and play in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. From parties at the Ritz to Michelin-rated dinners, it’s very safe to say my life is ‘out of the ordinary’ during those two-week trips.

Sounds glamorous right? Now that you know one side of it, let me explain the other: Factor in 14-hour workdays, shooting hours of video footage and photos daily, minimal sleep each night, 24-hour travel days, losing credit cards, losing equipment, and jet lag, all while trying to maintain a relationship at home. This is really what it’s like to tour the world with classical musicians. Combine these two elements and you’ve created an unforgettable, at times seemingly regrettable, once-in-a-lifetime gig.

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I never considered how hard it would be to photograph 30+ people at once. I quickly discovered that every time I needed to take one photo, I had to take three. There’s always that one person zoning out.



We were in Gdańsk, Poland, in the the beginning of July and the weather was perfect: 70s during the day and low 60s at night. I took this shot on my first night there, around midnight. Although it was Monday, I was still lucky to capture a relatively quiet scene—this is the main pedestrian street and it's crowded at almost all hours.


Beet soup

You're looking at a classic Polish lunch. I wasn't very fond of the Polish beers, so I opted for a personal favorite, Paulaner. Pictured here is some very vibrant beet soup. I never know what to expect when traveling, especially when it comes to eating, but I always make it a point to experience the local food.


Palau de la Música Catalana

Since I started working for the orchestra, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most famous concert halls in Europe. Here’s the orchestra during rehearsal at Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. Most days on tour the bus arrives in the city, the musicians have a couple hours to themselves, and then they head to the concert hall to rehearse and get ready. On the other hand, we on the film crew get to the city, get b-roll, then head straight to the venue to set up and start filming again. We’re in 6th gear all the time.



On the left is Mike, the orchestra’s 1st camera, and on the right is Liz, director of operations. As I mentioned, we’re working a lot of the time. Basically 25% of our time on the road is spent in front of this computer downloading footage onto hard drives. This results in lots of room service and bottles of wine.


Warming up

Some of the musicians’ instruments are loaned to them through various music conservatories. Many of these instruments are hundreds to even thousands of years old. Directly before every performance, the musicians warm up backstage, tuning their instruments and working out any last-minute kinks. The amount of respect and loyalty that occurs within the orchestra surpasses that of any organization I’ve ever encountered.



Here is another photo of Liz, director of operations. This girl works harder than anyone I know. She is always busy and when we’re on the road she takes on a million tasks. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t sleep at all...



When we’re all together there is a really unique sense of family. We come from countries all over the world: Latvia, Germany, Finland, Argentina, and Uruguay, to name a few. With a group of eccentric, intelligent, and interesting people, it’s hard not to be amazed by everyone’s talent and aspirations. This picture was taken at 6am in Poland. The orchestra’s call time for hair and makeup was 5am. Sometimes I worry they might place the blame for early mornings on me.


Las Sorrentinas

When we’re lucky enough to have time to grab some food, we’re always in a hurry. On our last trip in Spain, we stumbled across this awesome little Italian place in Barcelona called Las Sorrentinas. It was located on a cool plaza in the heart of the city. They made all of their sauces and pasta in house.


Day off

Sometimes I’ll get a day off, and when I do I’ll take the time to get some personal shots. I took this one in Poland, sort of a post-communist, grey, very industrial scene—more or less how I expected the country to look. However, to the right (out of frame) is an incredible stretch of beach. Prior to this trip, I don’t think I would have planned travel to Poland on my own time and money, but it really did surprise me.



We’ve shot some pretty unique promo stuff for the orchestra that I’m hoping will be released soon. Here is Mike fooling with this rinky-dink slider jib we rented. The thing was pretty shaky and we were skeptical, but the footage turned out just fine.



Generally we try to travel pretty light, though at the very least we bring our cameras, batteries, tripods, and lenses. Even with carbon-fiber tripods and the least amount of equipment possible, it gets heavy. It's even harder to keep track of all the gear when we're moving from one city to the next. After a successful two weeks without forgetting one item, I happened to leave my tripod in the Madrid airport. The irony killed me.


Language barrier

And then there were these guys.... It was around 10am on a Saturday in Pamplona, Spain. There were so many drunk people still on the streets from Friday night. I was trying to get a time-lapse and these guys insisted I take their picture. My Spanish is bad, so the language barrier was interesting here. Note the elderly woman, completely unfazed.


Waking up

We were shooting on location with some of the musicians early one morning. This lady poked her head out of the window to take a listen. I don’t think it was such a bad way to wake up.



Sometimes when the going gets tough I regret it, but I just remind myself how lucky I am to be working alongside such special people and traveling to these awesome places. I love nights like these because, in the midst of the craziness, I can sit back and take in some of the beauty.

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