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 Ed Steele, whose work can be viewed from his website, Ed Steele Photography.
Ed, what's the best thing about live music?
The best thing about live music is the music itself and the love that goes into making it. Some people don't know about the long hours of practice and rehearsal that go into making a show great. I recognize that the musicians I've photographed rehearse long hours to perfect their shows and at great personal expense; time spent away from loved ones, money spent on promotion, instruments, you name it. Being in a band is a labor of love -- the love of music. Music is the fabric that binds everything in the universe together and for me, listening to bands that have worked so hard for their love of music, there's not much that is better than that. I do my best to reflect my love of music through my photography.
What makes a great concert photo?
I think a great concert photo is one where the focus is sharp, the colors are vibrant, and most importantly, you were able to capture that look on the performer's face where they've just hit that moment -- the moment where the only thing that exists is them and their music. It's not an easy moment to get but when you capture it, it's priceless.
What's the strangest thing that has happened to you while photographing live music?
You catch a lot of strange and great things as a music photographer. One time, Richard Haskins from the Wee Beasties was covered in fake blood wearing only women's leopard panties and RayBans, did a belly flop off the stage and then slithered around on a filthy bar floor. Then another time at Rubber Gloves, Matt Burgess of Eat Avery's Bones rolled around in and ate dirty mashed up bread off the stage that symbolically represented his friend's intestines -- you had to be there for that sentence to actually make sense, I think. The crowd can get pretty outrageous too. I watched and photographed Taylor of DEEP Throat deftly hog-tie and straddle a drunk audience member with her mic cord, reclaiming her cowboy hat from the uninvited stage-invading hat thief without causing her any bodily harm.
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What makes a professional photographer as opposed to an amateur?
Simply put, I think it's a courteous attitude under all circumstances that really makes a pro. I'm talking about being aware of your surroundings and being courteous to everyone (including other photographers). Music photographers can get a bad rep and the environment at shows is chaotic. Removing yourself from the equation is key in this I think -- it's not about you getting the best shots possible no matter what, it's about being invisible to the audience while getting shots that make the band look their very best. Getting hired by a band or publication to shoot a show and getting paid to do what you love doesn't hurt either, of course.
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.
I love Def Rain's music and they are one of my favorite bands to photograph. Ashley and Grant were featured at the 2013 DOMA Awards showcase and they performed under very low light conditions with a laser light show. Extreme low-light photography is one of my specialties; I've spent literally hundreds of hours perfecting my low-light technique. The stage went from complete darkness to a bright burst of red and green lasers and using my low-light techniques I was able to capture a great Def Rain moment with this shot.