Young Tom Petty fan relishes his close-up with the rock legend

DePauw junior Connor Burgess took this photo of Tom Petty performing at Summerfest in Milwaukee this summer. (Photo: Connor Burgess Photography)

GREENCASTLE, Ind. (WTHR) - Connor Burgess, a junior at DePauw University, has a passion for photography and music. He shoots part-time for "The Big Take Over," a New York-based music magazine. In July, he was assigned to cover Summerfest in Milwaukee where Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed.

He got to shoot the first three songs from three feet away.

"It was definitely very cool to be that close," Connor said. "There was something about him in particular, having a musician that's had such an impact over the last 30-40 years. It was unreal, truly a cool experience to see someone who's touched so many people."

Connor said what made it even more special is that several times, Petty made eye contact with him and the other young photographers clamoring to get the perfect photo.

(Photo: Connor Burgess Photography)
(Photo: Connor Burgess Photography)
Media Folder: 

"He was having a very fun time with us," Connor said. "I've never experienced that with a musician where they actually looked and wanted to make sure I got a certain shot."

While Petty began playing decades before Connor was born, Connor became familiar with Petty's music through his parents who were big fans.

"My dad would play (Petty's) music...I remember we would sing 'Free Fallin'' in the car," he said.

Connor said of Petty, "I think he's timeless...It's very genuine, a lot of his music. I've felt like he has this certain quality where you can belt it out in the car, you can listen to it by yourself, it's very versatile. But more than that, I feel like it's very real."

(Photo: Connor Burgess Photography)
(Photo: Connor Burgess Photography)
Media Folder: 

Connor said Petty's death hit him hard, given the connection he felt at the summer concert. He said he's grateful he got the chance to cover the rock legend, grateful he was able to capture so many images.

Pointing to one photo where Petty and the stage are bathed in bright lights, he said, "for me, this shot kind of summed up the concert and generally my feelings towards it. It was a spectacle of light and sound and truly a magical experience...Every day I feel humbled to take photos like this and have (them) to look back on and have my own piece of what I consider to be his legacy."

Filed under: