I Love Music Photography

Last updated:

I love music photography. From the very first concert I ever photographed, I was hooked. Whether it's shooting in the crowd, smashed against the stage in a basement club or covering million-dollar productions from on-stage, the rush of music photography is singular and thrilling. Photographing musicians combines technique and emotion, the decisive moment and luck. For me, there's no other type of photography that has the same electrifying pull.

I love music photography. This is my love letter why.

There's the roar of a sold out crowd. The exhilaration of hearing the first notes of your favorite's song, or finally checking a band off your bucket list.

I love feeding off the energy of the fans and the anticipation in the moments before a performance starts. The dark venue, and the buzz in the crowd of expectation. Before the stage lights come on, there's the feeling that anything is possible. And after the set starts, I love the feeling that the next great image is just a beat away.

I both dread and love knowing that the show will end. Whether shooting for just three songs or the whole set, the show and music photographer's time to shoot is finite — every chord is a count-down to make the most out of the time you have.

I love music photography for all the constraints it presents. With limited time, often limited access, no command over the actual performance, and lighting that is out of one's control, live music photography is one of the ultimate challenges in the world of photography. In this sense, the timing, composition, and technique of concert photographers are some of the few elements that they govern.

I love seeing amazing images from the previous dates of a tour. I always see it as a challenge to one-up what's been done before. Every show is a music photographer's opportunity to put his or her stamp on that show and it's production, a sparing match with every photographer that's ever photographed that artist or ever will.

I love the thrill of competing in the pit to find that perfect angle, anticipate a fleeting gesture, or just get plain lucky.

I love music photography for the opportunity to make iconic images. There are so many singular photos that we come to associate with artist, from Jimmy Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 to Clash's Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar at New York's Palladium on the band's London Calling album cover. I love having the chance — no matter how slim or impossible — of making a photo like that.

I love the feeling of leaving a venue with my ears buzzing and memory cards full of the possibility. Maybe it's the promise of nailing that jump shot in the second song, catching a strobe light just right, or framing the perfect pose.

I love the friendships I've made with other music photographers around the world. From Malaysia to Australia, the UK to Brazil, there are a legion of photographers who live to shoot live music — just like me.

And when you look at music photography, I want you to feel like you're there. I want you to feel like you're in the front row, singing along with a thousand people to your favorite song. I want you to feel like the band's playing just for you.

I love music photography. I want you to love it, too.

— Todd Owyoung. Music photographer.