At a small, liberal arts university in western Virginia, Washington and Lee, Crothers found himself living in yet another out-of-the-way place. But the quiet Southern town of Lexington, with its combination of isolation and sophistication, proved to be the perfect setting for Crothers to hone his photographic prowess. It was the home of fine-art photographer Sally Mann, whom Crothers consulted after completing a documentary series fraternity hazing.
The pictures of vomiting and blindfolded youths struck the prominent Mann as immediate, intimate and raw.
"He came back with extraordinary and volatile images," said Mann. "It was courageous."
The town was also a popular music venue for new bands touring the college circuit. During the early 1990s, the Dave Matthews Band formed in nearby Charlottesville, Va., and began honing its live act at local fraternities. Crothers' pictures eventually appeared on the band's first album, "Remember Two Things," which was released in 1993. He parlayed the experience into assignments with another group he admired: Phish. It wasn't long before he was shooting both bands, on tour in the United States and abroad.