I Photographed for NICK JONAS?
Let me take you on a little journey.
When I say I'm a music junkie, I really do mean it. Loving music growing up, learning 3 instruments, and always having some good tunes playing in the background was no joke. Before I started my photography business, I mean realllly started my business, I dove deep into the world of concert photography. This meant free concerts, press passes, backstage passes, hanging out with artists before the shows began, and being a part of some behind the scenes work with such amazing musicians. At the young age of 16, I was ultimately convinced that being a concert photographer was what I would spend the rest of my life doing.
It all started when I was in high school. I went to the concerts, always made my way to the front by the barricades, and was mesmerized by the cool sounds that people could make. Music is unbelievable. It has the power to lift our moods! It can take away or provoke intense feelings and emotions. The art of music really was, and still is fascinating to me. I distinctly remember being at a concert with a friend and seeing another fellow photographer taking pictures. She wasn't just taking pictures though, she was ON STAGE with the artists. They were singing while looking right into her lens!! She was in front of the barricade that everyone was held back by. I want to do that, I thought to myself. And so I did.
I went home that very night and began my research. What did I need to get into concert photography? I was an amateur, I knew nothing about getting paid! I didn't have a website, I didn't even have an online portfolio. I was sixteen years old! I needed experience. I needed to create a website. I needed to act like I knew what I was doing, even though I clearly did not.
I started building my portfolio from then on. I quickly made a website and slapped all of my work on there. I created a business email. I researched the concert photography lingo and what I'd need to get in. Get press passes. Get photo passes. Contact band managers. Confirm with venues. Repeat.
I started by photographing smaller bands, local bands in the Dallas area where I was going to school. The artists were also just beginning their careers, so they were more then willing to help someone out who was doing the exact same. These were some of the most exciting times of my life!! I still remember the adrenaline I'd feel when rushing on stage with the artists. I remember looking out into the crowds with them and capturing the looks on their faces. I remember the rush I'd feel again when editing the photos and re-living those moments, and again when some of my favorite artists shared my work.
Fast forward a few years later. I ended up deciding to go to school in Saint Louis, Missouri. My business grew, I started getting paid for my shoots (despite my unorganized mess of a website), and more work flooded my way. I had so many amazing opportunities, at one point I was even asked to shoot for Saint Louis' famous LouFest, expected to take photos of Snoop Dog, Weezer, and Cage the Elephant!! (I didn't end up doing it .... regrets.) The next year, I found out that Nick Jonas would be on my university's campus for a concert. This is where being involved and having connections is handy.
Long story short... I knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a group of people who were looking for a photographer for Nick Jonas. I was the perfect person for the job, given my background and experience in the concert world. I was in!
I got there early, photographed the openers, got on stage and experienced that same adrenaline rush I had described before. Just feeling like you're playing a part in the artistry is so insanely exhilarating. Then Nick Jonas came out, and the crowd went crazy. His security guards were as strict as can be and didn't allow me to move around as much as I usually had while photographing concerts. But. I'm not going to lie. It was still pretty cool. I was less than two feet away from this huge celebrity that people were going crazy over. At one point and he looked right into my lens mid-song where I managed to capture this dramatic photo:
Something I've learned along the way? Celebrities, musicians, those "famous people," at the end of the day, they're just like the rest of us. They're normal human beings, waking up every morning, hanging out with their friends, families, all while working hard towards following their dreams.
The downsides? No, unfortunately I didn't get to meet him or hang out with him backstage like the other artists I had photographed for. I could go on about how stingy his security staff was, or how he acted to the people that did meet him, but I'm not here to complain or be involved in any form of celebrity gossip. Sorry, that's just not how I roll.
What I am here to do, is reflect and share my journey of how I got here. Without concert photography and my love for music, I would not have started my career as a photographer to begin with. I would not have started building the website that I have today, begun branding, or learned all that I now know about lighting and portraiture. I would not be where I am, this very second, writing this blog post, without such a unique journey.
I often get asked why I didn't stick with it. You may be wondering the same thing. While the magical world of concert photography is so thrilling and so much fun, what I ultimately crave is interaction and forming relationships with those I work with. Sure I was able to do that to an extent with some awesome musicians, but not like I'm able to do when working with couples, teens, or families. I love getting to know people on a more genuine level. I want to know their stories. What are their likes, or dislikes? What makes them laugh? Singers, songwriters, band members-- they're constantly on the go and I couldn't quite do that. It was a pretty cool path to take though and I'm so grateful to have gone on it.
I encourage every person reading this to get out there and try new things. It fosters your growth, takes courage, and makes you feel good. Start a new hobby! Pick up that dusty guitar sitting in the corner of your room. Cook up that recipe you've been dying to try. Go on a hike. Travel the world. Grab your camera and photograph your favorite moments along the way. Not only is it beyond exciting, but who knows...?
It may lead to something much bigger and greater than you could have ever imagined.
Thanks for the read,