Our best seven live photos of the year
You’ve seen us at shows. You’ve politely let us stand in front of you for a song or two so that we can get good shots. You’ve probably heard us cursing about lights. Like the writers for Invisible Oranges, us photographers each have our own identifiable styles and preferences.
Photographing live music can be challenging. At most, two photos out of the 20 that we turn in per show are shots we’d ever put in a portfolio. We have to turn around our photos in a matter of a few days, sometimes overnight, and many of us have day jobs. We’re often given the first three songs to shoot. We don’t control the lighting.
But we also get to shoot compelling subjects, surrounded by excellent people. I shoot a number of different types of music, but I’ve never had a more positive crowd experience than at metal shows. I know many of my colleagues feel the same way.
I’ve chosen my favorite photos taken this year for the site in an attempt to illustrate the depth and breadth of the talent on staff here. Live music coverage goes underappreciated at times. I know I’m guilty of scrolling through a photo-set without taking the time to look at each shot. If I don’t love the band that was covered, I don’t always click through. But I took a few hours to really sit and examine all the live music we covered over this past year, and I found a few amazing photos that I’d missed. I thought they were worth sharing, especially considering the time and effort our photographers put into taking and processing them.
This is by no means a complete list. I’ve chosen seven total photos (including one of mine), which is an incredibly limiting number. Your tastes may be different than mine, and each of these photographers has an impressive body of work, so I urge you to click through and check each photographer’s work. And hey, if you love a photo, you can always get in touch with the photographer and ask to buy a print.
Carcass at the Gramercy Theater (New York, NY) by Greg Cristman
I felt I had to lead off with this shot of Greg Cristman’s. The light is otherworldly, and it’s of Carcass, who put out an undisputedly great album this year.
Melvins at Housecore Horrorfest (Austin, TX) by Trent Maxwell
I spend a lot of time looking to capture moments of stillness in the chaotic atmosphere of live metal shows. This shot of King Buzzo from the Melvins is breathtaking in its quietude.
Gojira at Irving Plaza (New York, NY), by Fred Pessaro
I also got to shoot Gojira this year, and I did so having already picked this photo. I may have cursed Fred Pessaro (IO editor emeritus) a lot, both while shooting and while processing my photos the next day. Sorry, Thanksgiving day Amtrak riders. This photo is dirty. It’s violent. It’s dark. It’s fucking awesome. Goddammit, Fred.
Iron Maiden at 360 Amphitheater (Austin, TX), Tim Griffin
Arguably the most important skill a concert photographer can have is knowing when to press the shutter-release. There is a certain amount of serendipity involved, certainly. But the reflexes required to get a shot like this are nothing short of amazing.
Converge at Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA), Alyssa Lorenzon
I love photos that manage to get the band and the crowd in the frame together. Jake Bannon’s posture communicates a sort of spring-loaded tension, and in this shot he will be forever caught in the moment right before that release.
Russian Circles at Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn, NY), Lukas Hodge
This photo definitely recalls the Gojira shot above. I guess I have defined tastes. A shot like this is also hauntingly ambiguous, and ambiguity serves photographers well.
Absu at Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn, NY), Caroline Harrison
This is my shot, so I’m not going to wax poetic about the composition or the colors or the lighting. But I will say this: I’ve gotten to shoot Absu twice, and Ezezu is always a joy to photograph.
Thanks for reading! I’m proud to work with these incredibly talented folks. I hope you take the time to click through the amazing work they’ve done this year.