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 Kevin Buchanan, whose work can be viewed from hisFlickr.
Kevin, what's the best thing about live music?
Besides the obvious thrill of loud music in your face, I just love the feeling of watching a great musician/performer doing their thing right there in front of you. Knowing that what you're seeing is unique, and will never quite be replicated any other night.
What makes a great concert photo?
I like a photo that captures a unique moment in the concert, or something that really captures the essence of the artist. I'm not much on razor sharpness or lots of post-processing. I prefer to work around the limitations of lighting, venue arrangement, etc. to get something that tells a story of how it feels to be seeing that performer. I will abandon all sorts of technical perfection to get the sort of feel and emotion I'm after.
What makes a professional photographer as opposed to an amateur?
The lines are blurred a lot these days, but I think one of the many ways a professional distinguishes themselves is in taking the time to truly consider their shots, and pick only the most appropriate and meaningful to present to the world. When I was first starting out, I'd shoot 300 photos and upload 100 of them to the Internet. Now, I shoot 900 photos and upload maybe 10-12 at the absolute most, and that's on a really good night. But any one of those shots are better than any of the 100 I'd throw up there when I was really new at everything.
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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I photographed Quasi at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton not long ago. Quasi is a rock duo from Portland, made up of Janet Weiss (of Sleater-Kinney & Wild Flag fame) on drums, and Sam Coomes on guitar & keys. I shot it, as I shoot all my shows these days, with my two Fujifilm X-series cameras: an X100 for wider shots, and an X-Pro 1 for the tighter angles. This particular photo was shot with the X-Pro 1.
Quasi puts out a very loud, aggressive sound, and Sam and Janet make great photographic subjects. I absolutely loved the way the stage lights caught Sam's hair as it flew around while he was up there tearing up that guitar, so I took advantage of that. Like I said above, I will sacrifice crisp razor sharpness any time to get the kind of emotion in a shot that I'm looking for, so I slowed my shutter speed just enough so that Sam was just starting to go blurred when he was moving around. From a technical standpoint, it could probably be consider flawed as hell, but when I look at it, it captures how it *feels* to be at a Quasi show, all high energy and distorted and powerful. There are times I go for the crispness, and times I go for the raw blurred emotion, depending on the subject. That's what I'm going for every time I photograph a show - the emotion, the feel, the energy.