Best Seat Not on the Field: Photographer Andrew Haagen
Andrew Haagen remembers when the fields of Coachella were a place for horses and little else, when Empire Polo Field was surrounded by desert instead of shopping centers. His father owned the property and his family traveled there regularly from L.A. for family outings amid the stables and sand dunes. But these days, his role is much different as Coachella's official portrait photographer since its launch in 1999. A former photo assistant to Rolling Stone's Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger, Haagen builds a self-contained (and air-conditioned) studio backstage where artists and their famous guests can escape the desert heat and sit for a portrait.
In a gallery attached to the studio are a sampling of the faces he's captured through the years: vibrant Amy Winehouse in towering beehive, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers having a burger, Ben Harper, Devo, Peter Tosh, Lily Allen, Questlove, Perry Farrell and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. And when Clint Eastwood starting showing up backstage a couple of years ago, Haagen shot him too.
"Everyone has their own Coachella experience. For me, its the photo tent," said Haagen, 43, who hopes to publish a book of his years of festival portraits. "We do a year's worth of photography both weekends."