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Concert photographers capture live musical experiences to enjoy forever

Chris Capuozzo
The band Power of Fear performing on stage.

Music lovers often want to see their favorite artists in concert to experience the music and energy live. Frequent concert-goers may notice some photographers in front of the stage taking hundreds of photos.

Many people enjoy concerts and live performances and the experience stays with them forever; concert photography captures those moments in time.

“I know a lot of people get annoyed with how many people are holding their phones up at concerts. That doesn’t really bother me,” associate photojournalism professor David Foster said. “I think humans have an innate instinct to hold onto things.”

Foster started his photography career in photojournalism but photographed a variety of concerts for the Akron Beacon Journal and The Columbus Dispatch. 

The field of concert photography contains groups of passionate individuals, usually self-taught, to shoot live performances. Education in photography or photojournalism amplifies their skills, but many navigate the career in their own way. 

Chris Capuozzo, a junior digital media production major, found his love for photography in high school. During his college years, he gained concert photography experience for all kinds of shows and began his freelance career.

“It’s very different from photographing a news story or other things like that,” Foster said.

Typically, smaller artists and venues are easier and more fun to photograph, both Foster and Capuozzo said. 

“Shooting the small shows at venues that wouldn’t really attract high profile artists, those are some of my favorite things to do just because of how cool I can make a small show look,” Capuozzo said.

As the world of live music grows, there are more restrictions with photography at larger events. Usually, the artists have their own photographer or publicist who makes the content for their brand. 

For bigger shows, the photographers are typically given specific instructions for how they can shoot. The smaller venues allow you to photograph from wherever you are, and you also get to enjoy the rest of the show, Foster said.

“I remember photographing blues musician B.B. King, and he didn’t let anybody up front, so you had to shoot with a long lens from halfway back in the theater,” he said.

Concert photography is also viewed as a marketing tool for venues and musicians because it helps attract a bigger audience by showcasing how fun the experience can be, Capuozzo said.

“It’s all a marketing thing honestly, that’s the biggest thing with photography,” he said.

Concert photographers have the unique challenge of capturing how the fans and artists feel during the performance.

“Typically, you’re going to see your favorite band and photograph it, so you’re like in awe the whole time,” Foster said. “I think the best images are often not just the band, but how the band interacts with the crowd.” 

When photographing live performances, it is crucial to find unusual angles and unique moments, Foster said. 

“No two people are going to see a concert the same way,” he said.

Capuozzo usually works with the artists directly rather than for a venue or publication.

“I just try to see what [the artist’s] vision is for what they want; one of the best feelings is getting a good reaction to your photos from the artist,” he said. “That’s such a rewarding feeling in my opinion, knowing I did my job right and made them happy.”

Photos are the universal language of our world, and anyone can interpret an image no matter where they are from. 

“I notice I can explore something differently if I have a camera with me than if I’m just hanging out as an observer,” Foster said. “The power of photography will never change.”

Angie Robinette is a reporter. You can contact her at [email protected].

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