The Best Music Photographers in North Texas - Vote Now!

Over the past few weeks, we've introduced you to our 12 favorite music photographers in North Texas. And now it's your turn to determine who is the best of the best. That's right, the polls are officially open. We've included one of the five photos each finalist submitted to us; to see the other four and read the rest of our interviews, check out the full profiles at the links below. If we missed your favorite North Texas music photographer, feel free to write him or her in. Voting will be open until Wednesday, April 2 at 5 p.m., so hit the polls now.

Kathy, what makes a great concert photo?

A combination of elements captured in one shot like the performer of course, another band member or DJ, their audience, and the environment they're in. That's why I'm passionate about doing these in-camera double and triple exposures to capture it all in one.

Full profile and additional photos: Kathy Tran

Ed, 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.

Full profile and additional photos: Ed Steele

Soundcheck Dallas, what makes a great concert photo?

There are usually three things that I really focus on the second I walk into a venue. The first is lighting. For bands where a photo pass is issued, a photographer usually gets 3 songs to shoot while in the photo pit - so getting the lighting down fast is very important. I'll try to look up the band beforehand and see how their previous shows looked so I have an idea of where my camera settings should be - otherwise it's a toss-up. Some shows may only use one color of lighting or they may use a mixture. Some hardly have any lighting, which always produces quite a challenge because the use of a flash is almost always prohibited. If you can figure out the lighting, you're golden. My second focus is looking for an unusual shot. Some bands literally stay in the same place for most of the show - you can only take so many photos of a guy playing a guitar before it becomes mundane. So I look for quirks, face expressions, or try catching the artist looking into the camera. My third focus is to capture an overall feeling. When I look at a concert photo specifically, I want to feel like I'm back at the show. I want others to look at my photos and wish they would have been there. There are other important aspects like setting the camera correctly, making sure the subjects are in focus and choosing the perfect lens. But overall: lighting, an unusual shot and creating a connection are what makes a great concert photo.

Full profile and additional photos: Soundcheck Dallas

Karlo, what makes a great concert photo?

I think what makes a great photo is the element of connection. It doesn't matter where it comes from. Whether is the performer connecting with himself during a very personal song or just exploding, raging and flying off the stage and into the crowd it doesn't matter as long as there's that exchange of emotions. To me that comes first because if you can spot those moments then I believe you have given a meaning and a purpose to your capture. Granted, you have to know the settings of you camera and a knowledge of how things work in order to create a exposure but like anything mechanic those skills come with practice you'll find that the more you do it the better you get, like most things.

What drives me when photographing, I guess is the feel that you are embracing the unpredictable. The rush of making a work of art that documents the moment in time. Out there you have no control over lights, over posing, over the amount of time you are in the pit. NOTHING! The only thing that you control is when your shutter clicks and how much light you let in. I think that's enough to make magic.

Full profile and additional photos: Karlo X. Ramos

Danny, what makes a great concert photo?

The right moment with the subject or scene, within lighting and a composition that shows it best is what makes a great concert photo.

Full profile and additional photos: Danny Raybon

Mike, what makes a great concert photo?

Concerts are shows being put on for the audience, with that said, the lighting, the makeup, the props, the poses are all in place for the photographer already, so thinking outside the box is huge for a concert photographer. You've basically got another photographer standing on either of side of you snapping away with the same gear as you, so you need to find a way to make sure you're photo stands out from theirs. I think taking risks as far as photography goes, make for a good shot. Using various lenses like a fisheye or a wide angle, double or triple exposures, silhouettes, etc. can take your photo from good to great. But also making sure you capture the emotion of the performer, working with the light, using leading lines, and not forgetting the reason the band is their (the crowd) all make for a great photo.

Full profile and additional photos: Mike Mezeul II

Allan, what makes a great concert photo?

I think there are as many different kinds of great concert photos as there are great concert photographers. If there are common denominators, the best photos probably express perspective and energy in a resonant or surprising way.

Perspective can help put the viewer in an desirable or unexpected place at the show. It might put them on stage with the band, or right down in the pit, or even backstage so they can see how the rock'n'roll sausage is made. Perspective can help the viewer imagine they're right there at the show, or that they have a privileged, even idealized position that's even better than the one they might've had in the club. Perspective can also heighten the drama of the shot, like making the performers look 10 feet tall, or alternately getting up close and intimate so it feels like just a single performer and the viewer.

Similarly, a great photo can capture various aspects of the energy of the moment. A powerful movement by a performer, frozen in time, can express a certain tension and feel like it's almost about o burst out of the frame. Likewise blurred motion of the audience and/or the performers can really show the kinetic aspect of a show. Compositional tools like using negative space, selective focus, or letting a subject burst through (or fall off) an edge of the frame can also communicate to the viewer that the subject is so energetic it simply can't be contained.

Full profile and additional photos: Allan Hayslip

Andi, 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.

Full profile and additional photos: Andi Harman

Bill, what makes a great concert photo?

Well, to me a great concert pic can be any # of things. It could be a good close-up of somebody, so you can see the emotion on their face, allowing people that had to sit in the back of the room to see what they couldn't during the show. Or, if there's a great light show, a photo can capture all of the effects of that. Or maybe the band is whipping the crowd in to a frenzy, so a a good shot of the fan's reaction is important.

Full profile and additional photos: Bill Ellison

Darkhouse Image, what makes a great concert photo?

I believe it's about framing a moment in time, an action by the musician that makes it magical.

Full profile and additional photos: Darkhouse Image

Kevin, 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.

Full profile and additional photos: Kevin Buchanan

Mike, what makes a great concert photo?

Like any other photograph, a good music shot has to have good lighting and composition. And a really good photograph always has a little mystery or surprise in the details. Live music is about vibe and energy, and that comes at you from all directions ... make sure you are looking in all directions. My basic advice to anyone who wants to have more interesting music photos is to stop taking 500 shoots of the lead singer while ignoring everything else going on.

Full profile and additional photos: Mike Brooks

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Contact: Shawn Gadley