Every now and again we have these things called aha moments. For me my biggest aha moment was when I first picked up the camera---I mean seriously picked up the camera---and shot my first show. I had no clue what I was doing at all aside from what I had researched on the internet. I'm what I call a DIY photographer. My interests and hobbies have always involved some creative component in one form or the other, so it's no surprise that I eventually found myself in this lane. 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart as the year that I got myself out there and started shooting shows. It's where I began to build my portfolio and most importantly, where I found something other than writing that I can be extremely proud of. Here are my favorite shots from 2016 (so far) along with a little blurb about the top 5.
The Top 5
The first show I ever shot was actually not just one show, but a collection of shows that I've been attending since I was 15 years old, Warped Tour. It was in the Warped Tour photo pit, amongst 9-10 other awesome and sweaty photographers, that I realized photography was my passion. Every Time I Die have always been a band that I've connected with. To me they are untouchable. There's a true grit to what they do. These guys put their lives, blood, sweat, and whatever else into everything they do and that is felt in both their music and performance. This is partially why my favorite shot is the one below that I captured of Jordan Buckley. Jordan had grabbed this American flag from a fan in the crowd and wore it as a cape towards the end of their first three songs. Even though I cut off his one arm, I love this shot because of the story it tells. I also love how both the band and Jordan's personality are exhibited really well by this shot. I'll take that over a perfect photo any day.
It just so happens that my second favorite shot of 2016 also is from Every Time I Die's set at Warped Tour. This time it is of the other Buckley brother, Keith. His energy is on another level. But, what I like the most about this shot is the fact that I captured it in between songs. It is a reminder that you can capture awesome shots even in the most unexpected to moments. He had just took a drink of water and was walking back towards the front of the stage. Then he ruffled his fingers through his hair and I captured this GQ-esque shot of this violent gentlemen.
My third favorite shot is one I captured of Matt Heafy of Trivium on their first night of tour. I love shots where it looks like people are levitating. At one moment, he started jumping straight up and down. Though he had a lot of energy, there was a moment in between where he had this serene look on his face. That paired with lighting created a photo that I am extremely proud of. One of those right moment, right time kind of things. Trivium is just a fun band to shoot. At least, I know I was standing in the photo pit with a wide smile on my face the entire time.
The fourth shot is one of Pustulus Maximus of Gwar. I've heard many crazy tales about Gwar concerts, but I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into. For those of you who don't know, they shoot fake blood and "guts" into the crowd. As a result, I walked into the photo pit with my camera wrapped in a shirt I had bought at the merch table and tied off with a hair tie. Worked like a charm! Though I wasn't sure of what I was about to experience, I ended up having the most fun in a photo pit I've ever had as I dodged tons of blood and guts shooting from various stage props heads. I walked out looking like I had acquired some rash due to all the red spots on my face and arms, but I could have cared less because I captured many awesome shots and had an incredible time. I will be shooting Gwar again and recommend them to any music photographer.
Rounding up my top five favorite shots of 2016 is this shot of Justin Shekoski, guitarist of The Used. This concert was a 2 day concert celebrating 15 years of The Used, making it an extremely unforgettable and special event. This photo made it in the top five because I am a huge believer in mood. There's this duality between darkness and light that makes me extremely happy.