Here, some trend-tracking tips from an expert who scours the music landscape for The Next Big Thing.

With only a month left on the summertime calendar, some of the best trend spotting is yet to be realized, as the music festival circuit courses its way across the country. Besides the chance to catch back-to-back sets of bands and DJs new and old that are defining the current culture, music fests such as Lollapalooza, Ozzfest and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are also prime opportunities to spot trends emerging among the more plugged-in segments of society. Sure, the high temperatures frequently mean stripped-down versions, but the cues are all there, according to one trend sleuth, a corporate spy for a multibrand monolith who spends her days traveling the world photographing everything and anything that could direct designers, merchandisers and image makers. The secret eyewear cameras and stealth snapshots aside, this expert recommends hitting music festivals prepped accordingly:

  • Don’t leave home without it. Always keep a camera loaded, charged and ready to shoot. This is the perfect use of a digital camera, particularly slim versions that slip into a shirt pocket and hold dozens of images. “The key is to download and organize the images as soon as possible,” she advised.

  • Work the rules. Most festivals require media credentials for anything more than a disposable camera. Investigate the rules and exceptions in advance (they’re usually listed on the festival’s Web site). If going the official route for credentials or smuggling that credit card-sized digital cam is too much of a risk, outfit every guest in your party with a disposable shooter that you can collect after getting through the gate. “Just don’t plan on acting like you didn’t know and you’re going to talk your way in. The security has heard it all before,” said the trend tracker.

  • Shoot now, process later. It’s best to snap shots of “inspirational” figures as they present themselves. “Don’t assume you’ll see them again,” she said. Nor is waiting until you survey the scene before shooting an emerging trend a good idea, she added. “Shoot as many people or things as you can and then process the information collectively later when you’re at your office or home.”
  • Snap fast. Whether the subject is aware of being shot or not, it’s best to point, shoot and move on. “Don’t take too much time,” said the expert. “People at these festivals tend to be antsy. You could lose a great look — especially if it’s some famous musician — if you take up too much of their time.”

  • Get the big picture. Frame shots to encompass the subject from head to toe. “Just get in the habit of doing this, so you don’t miss anything if you can only get one photo in,” she said. Also consider that inspiration isn’t only human. Signs, cars, encampments and art installations, like those found at Burning Man, can also provide aesthetic clues.

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