Earlier, we introduced you to our 12 favorite music photographers in North Texas. We got more than 50 nominations, and our team of expert judges narrowed it down to these 12. Over the next two weeks, we'll be introducing you to each of the finalists in turn by having them share five of their favorite concert photos and answering a few questions about their process and passion. Next up is Andi Harman, whose work can be viewed from her website, andiharman.com.
Andi, what's the best thing about live music?
The variation! One night, I might be drenched in sweat a noise show in someone's living room or garage, and the next I might be at the AAC shooting pop stars and wailing fangirls.
What makes a great concert photo?
The same stuff that makes any photograph successful, I suppose. A unique point of view, paired with impeccable timing and intuition, is ultimately what sets apart a true talent from any person with a camera. Concert photos can't be planned; it's all on a whim, and at its core is just as tricky as photojournalism.
A shooter can certainly manipulate her subject, especially in the live music environment. A series of bright flashes can coax a performer to pull out all of the stops, but it could potentially, on the other hand, annoy the hell out of them. And there's plenty to be said about sticking to the shadows and capturing more authentic moments. That's generally my method, unless I'm certain the front person will play with me.
What's the strangest thing that has happened to you while photographing live music?
Well, my mother will be reading this, so I won't go too risqué with the answer. I've got a few good ones, though, if you corner me in person.
There was a Discipline show at Taqueria el Picante last summer. The confrontational screaming from Frederikke Hoffmeier, of Puce Mary, was one of the most terrifying moments I've had behind my camera. She got in my face and howled bloody murder while pushing me and my camera up against a wall. This uncanny, tiny blonde woman scared me more during this seconds-long exchange than just about anything I've witnessed. I wasn't her only prey during the show -- she sunk her witchy claws into several others that night -- but our little exchange definitely stuck with me for a long time.
What makes a professional photographer as opposed to an amateur?
Pick one of the photos you've submitted and tell us a little about it: Where was it shot, who is featured and (most importantly) how did you capture it? We'd love to hear logistical description or technical breakdowns or whatever else you want to tell us.
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This image of M.I.A. was taken a few months ago at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX. This is actually the only photograph shown on this profile that wasn't captured in Dallas or Denton. I included it because festival photo pits are insanely chaotic, and you have to be overly aggressive to get "the shot."
M.I.A.'s sound was mixed louder and more bass-heavy than Slayer's, oddly enough. I felt my ribs and lungs compress and decompress with the bassline. M.I.A. had a flawless stage presence that thankfully distracted from the pain. She knew just how to move her body to project to both the crowd and the photo pit. I nestled at center-stage before the set, and ultimately, it paid off. I'm not one to talk technique, but I was using a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, which is my go-to for festivals and large-scale venues.