Photographer Brendan Foster Fieldhouse, whose unique style came to define City Paper's nightlife photography over the past four years, died over the weekend of an undisclosed illness, according to Travis Hunt, owner of The Sidebar.
If you suddenly turned and saw yourself in the curved glass of a broad, wide-angle lens at The Sidebar, there's a good chance you were about to end up in one of Fieldhouse's trippy music photographs. And if you ever showed up at one of City Paper's Best Of Baltimore parties, Fieldhouse probably photographed you, wide-eyed, drunk, zonked-out, or maybe even inhaling some poppers outside.
Speaking to City Paper on Monday, Hunt said that the space at the bar where Fieldhouse would sit—sometimes awaiting a show shoot, other times just to do some handiwork—would now feel strangely empty.
"He knew how to fix just about anything," he said. "And anything he didn't know how to fix he could learn immediately. He installed the lighting system and fixed our doors when a hinge was loose."
Fieldhouse also volunteered at the Baltimore Free Farm, and when he could, he shot their parties for City Paper.
Fieldhouse's technical ability with his flash and wide-angle lens, combined with impeccable timing, created his kinetic, otherworldly photos. Nothing in the frame seemed like an accident. The particular flick of long hair, the moment following a whiff of poppers, or the angry furrow of a Death Metal scowl—those were what he waited for before pressing the button.
And his galleries documenting the metal and punk scenes included a signature trademark: a raised middle finger. Crowd members and friends would offer the salute to the photographer, newspaper, and the audience in several pictures throughout his numerous galleries.
His work also meant a lot to the bands.
"For me, his work was empowering," said Jerrod Bronson, lead singer of the band Gateway to Hell. "It's one thing to be onstage and to entertain, to emote. But what I saw from his lens was something that I had never seen before in myself: power [and] passion. He was there in the very early days of Gateway to Hell, and I definitely see the evolution of us through his art. He helped give me the confidence that I needed, but to him, it was just friends hanging out and having fun. Fuck. I wish I told him that."
Despite his large stature, Fieldhouse was always cognizant of the crowd around him. It's a trait that many concert photographers willfully ignore.
"He would protect people in the crowd while taking his incredible pictures at the same time," Hunt said. " He was [very professional] and such an awesome person."
Fieldhouse began shooting for City Paper in late 2013 and continued shooting until an illness incapacitated him a few months ago.
There was not funeral information at press time. Hunt is planning a memorial for the photographer and charity auction with proceeds going to Fieldhouse's mother.
"We'll have a date soon," Hunt said.