Disclaimer: Shooting Victims is a portrait series by Benjamin Reed. No subjects were harmed in the making of this portrait.
Before the Plane Went Down…
I can still hear the beat in my head. It was powerful, mesmerizing. It made me deaf and that was okay because it was worth it. When I visited former Blink 182 drummer, Travis Barker, I asked him to sit down at his set and start playing as if I wasn’t there. He put on his head phones and began to beat the living hell out of the drums for 10 minutes. It was difficult to photograph because I wanted to get into the beat…the beat I can still hear in my head.
Just before Travis walked in I met a little guy named Chris. Chris was unbelievably nice and accommodating. He wore a chain around his neck and his hat to the back. He approached me and shook my hand, "I’m Chris," he said. "Can I get you anything?"
"Benjamin," I said. "I’m cool man, thanks for asking."
Chris went around and made sure everyone was fine. He then came back and asked if I wanted a smoothie, he was going to be making a run to Jamba Juice.
"Really?" I said. "Yeah…sure man. I like the protein berry shake."
"Anything else?" he said.
"No, that works" I said. "Thanks so much."
Chris left for the smoothies and I photographed Travis on the drums as I began looking back and forth at his publicist who would cover her ears and smile back. It was beautiful chaos and he commanded the set.
When I realized I couldn’t hear anymore I also realized I had enough to work and called a wrap. It really was incredible.
Chris walked back in with my smoothie and a fat cookie. I usually don’t get treated this well on celebrity shoots. Personalized snacks? This was great.
I gathered up my gear and listened to Travis talk about his hip hop collaborations and future projects and Chris saw me out the door. We chatted a bit more as he moved his SUV from behind my car so I could drive off. We shook hands again, I thanked him for everything and finished my cookie. It was an unusual drive back for me. I usually don’t remember anyone else on the set but my subjects, but Chris really stood out to me. People had respect for him in the studio, you could see it and feel it in the room.
4 Dead In S.C. Plane Crash
Former Blink-182 Drummer Travis Barker, DJ AM Both Critically Injured
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was all over the news wires, television, radio. I immediately began recalling the photo shoot, the adrenaline, that drum beat, the sweat. I kept reading articles to figure out what happened, why it happened…and that’s when I learned who Chris was.
DJ AM and musical partner Travis Barker were the only survivors of the crash, which took the lives of Barker’s close friend and assistant, "Lil" Chris Baker, and the Blink-182 drummer’s bodyguard, Charles "Che" Still, as well as the pilot and co-pilot.
Lil’ Chris, the nicest guy on the set, the guy who bought me a smoothie and a cookie, a 29-year-old just like me, was dead.
It was terrible news. I didn’t know him well at all. I didn’t even know his role in Travis’s life but he was one of those people you meet that you never forget. You hate to see the best people go out like that. It tends to put life into perspective. One of those ever so often reminders to be like Lil’ Chris Baker and live your to the fullest.