The crowd is waiting impatiently, the lights are dimmed as subtle interlude music plays, and I’m standing in front of the barricade holding my camera with shaky hands. With the first blinding beam of light and the sudden uproar of the hundreds of fans, I see one of my favorite bands walk onto the stage and I aim my camera lens- this is the dream.

Wallows performing in Raleigh, NC 2020

Gotta Start Somewhere

Getting to photograph concerts has been one of the biggest highlights and best opportunities of my career. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be involved in the music scene. While I was making music on the side, it wasn’t scratching my itch. With my first camera and basic kit lens, I would go to really cheap local shows and just practice shooting- even if it was bands I didn’t know. The love for live coverage bloomed pretty much immediately. 

As I said, I started out by attending any show that I possibly could- mostly small/local shows. This was a really good starting point for me because I wasn’t being hired to take pictures so there was less pressure for the pictures to turn out. That gave me a lot of freedom in the sense that I could try all sorts of things and not worry if not even one of them turned out okay. For someone who had really high anxiety, this was perfect. 

After spending some time in the local scene and discovering a fiery passion for concert photography, I realized I wanted to pursue it further. It wasn’t until after I spent a few hours reaching out to bands for photo coverage that I learned most of the time you will probably need to be working with a publication to be granted photo access. This isn’t necessarily always the case, but most of the time for bigger shows you will need to show them they’ll be getting promoted on a decent sized platform for them to consider. Surprisingly, it’s actually quite easy to work with a publication, most are actively seeking new creatives.

Chase Atlantic performing in Charlotte 2019

Building My Portfolio

Making my way up from shooting free local shows for bands I didn’t know, to covering large shows for artists I looked up to greatly, it took a lot of time, and a lot of work. I didn’t mind a second of it though- I actually enjoyed new challenges and late night, long hours of editing. Being able to send off photos that looked amazing that I was so proud of to bands I idolized is a feeling I’ll never be able to describe. 

The first big show I covered was for the band Silverstein. At the time I was living in Raleigh, NC, and I traveled back to my hometown of St. Louis for my birthday and it just so happened they were playing a show there on the night of my birthday. I didn’t think there’d be any way to get photo access, especially not having been with a publication yet, but I decided to shoot my shot and emailed the guitarist. I basically was like, “Hey…so I’m a huge fan and I would love to take photos at the upcoming show in STL.. I’m a beginner photographer and would love to gain some experience shooting for a band I love” (awkward I know). He was super nice and not only granted me access, but after the show we got to talking and he gave me a free t-shirt for my birthday! What an amazing first experience, thanks Paul.

Paul Marc Rousseau of Silverstein in St. Louis 2018

I will admit, when I got to the venue I was terrified. From checking in, to pushing my way to the front so I could get in front of the barricade (photo pit), it was really overwhelming. There were about 4 other photographers in the pit at that show with giant, expensive looking cameras and lots of gear strapped to them, and there I stood with my tiny camera nervously shaking. Once Silverstein came on stage though, my nerves instantly eased. Only having access to the photo pit for the first three songs, I got the best shots I could and the rest of the show I shot around the rest of the venue.

From there, I joined two publications, Unclear Magazine, and Melodic Magazine. Working with them enabled me to gain access to bigger shows like Chase Atlantic, and the biggest one yet, Wallows. With each show bigger and better than the last, I was ready to try new things and expand my portfolio. Though I no longer work with either of them, it was an amazing run and I’m endlessly grateful for the experiences, opportunities, and connections I gained in that time.

Jesse Barnett from Stick to Your Guns & Bryan Garris from Knocked Loose in Raleigh 2019

I had always been scared of shooting hardcore/punk shows, out of fear of damaging my camera. I was a seasoned concert-goer so I had my fair share of pit wounds, but I refused to let my camera join in on the fun. That was until I fell in love with Stick to Your Guns and Knocked Loose- both hardcore bands that got me through hard times and ignited a whole new flame in me I didn’t know existed. When they came through town, I knew I had to get photo coverage.

The first time I covered a hardcore show was the STYG and KL show in 2019. Side note, my ride canceled at the last minute, so I took a $70 Uber to the venue and a $70 Uber back. Anyways, there was no barricade at this show and to say the least I was terrified within seconds of the first song. I was being trampled with my expensive new camera so I decided to crawl up on stage. I was being extremely careful not to trip on any cords and accidentally kill the show, but otherwise it was fantastic. The energy of the crowd was INSANE and it was incredibly fun to shoot. Covering this show really opened a lot of doors for me, mentally and in my career, and I’m so glad I took the chance. 

Long Lasting Love

Concert photography transformed me from an isolated, depressed music geek with passion and drive but no outlet, to a confident, skilled artist with an even deeper love of live music and photography. During the period of time that I was diving head on into this new venture, I was also going through a lot in my personal life. I was struggling mentally, in school, physically, having family issues and loss, and ended up moving to Kansas City, MO. This was also at the start of the COVID shut down, so there were no live shows for quite some time. I ended up diving into music making and deepened my love of creating even further. Having just graduated online high school a semester early, in December, I had nothing but time to create.

When live shows started back up again I definitely didn’t feel the urge to get out and shoot like I used to, but I still loved it. Around this time, I began my first marketing job with a local record shop. We hosted underground shows which was really fun to cover, and was a great way to ease back into it. 

Free Throw & Can’t Swim in Gainesville, FL 2023

Now, if the opportunity arises for me to shoot a show, I’ll try take it on, but for the most part I focus on concept photography. It’s actually quite fun to experiment with concepts at shows now. With health issues I find it hard to get out to shows as often as I used to, but I fully accredit my career to the path concert photography took me down. I will always love and cherish every amazing memory I made in my “prime time” as a live show photographer. Even now when I go to a show for leisure I can’t help but think of all the unique shots I could get if I had my camera with me. I am who I am because of music and photography and I can’t imagine living a happy life without either of them.

To see more of my concert work, click HERE.