Alyson Coletta

How long have you been shooting for? 
July will make it 5 years since I started photographing shows! 

Was there a specific moment that made you want to pursue photography as a career? 
Not really. I learned about concert photography when I was 11 or 12 from someone on the Internet. I thought it was cool and I started to research it. Something in my head just clicked. I don’t know what it was, but something about it always just made sense to me. 

What’s the most difficult part of your career been so far? 
Trying to make a living off photography. I’ve been in college, so I’ve had to put off pursuing a lot of opportunities. I’ll see posts for tours, photo shoots, etc. and I can’t accept them because of school. It’s been hard to see if it’s really possible to do this full time when I’ve had to put college first. 

What is your favorite show you’ve ever shot? 
Oh, man. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t think I could pick just one show. Two shows that were really special to me were Blink 182 @ Starland 
Ballroom in September 2013 and Green Day @ Starland Ballroom last September. Starland is a venue that holds no more than 2,500 people, so being able to photograph artists that play arenas and amphitheaters in a small venue was insane. 

Is there a show you’d like to shoot again? 
Every Parkway Drive show I’ve ever shot. Every time I finish photographing them, I want to go back and do it all over again. 

How would you describe your personal style? 
I love shooting wide. Once in awhile I’ll go for a close up of a musician, but at least 95% of my work is shot with a wide angle lens. It’s just something I prefer. I also tend to favor high contrast and bright colors when editing. 

Has being a woman in your field been difficult for you? Have you dealt with any effects on sexism in your career? How did you handle it? 
I really don’t think about if it’s been difficult. I’m not sure how to weigh it on a scale. I’ve dealt with people treating me differently because I’m a girl. I’ve had bands say that they won’t take a girl on tour because they just “don’t like having girls on tour” as if that has anything to do with the work I do. When they tell me that, I’m kind of just like “well, that’s your loss then” at this point. I used to let it bother me, but I don’t anymore. Yeah, it’s frustrating, but do I really want to work with someone who cares more about the sex I got assigned in life than my work? Not really. I’ve also been told to leave the photo pit after 3 songs when I have a tour laminate on, but the guy next to me with a tour laminate that isn’t even working for the band isn’t questioned whatsoever. It happened on multiple occasions on the same tour, so it wasn’t a coincidence. It’s annoying more than it is insulting, because then I have to get a man to vouch for me being allowed in the pit, and that’s wasting my time. I’ve had female friends be asked if they slept with the band members to get a photo pass. It’s like we can’t be here just to take photos or videos – we HAVE to be there for some other reason. Being a girl has some obstacles in this industry, but I don’t think it’ll ever stop me from doing what I want to do. 

What other photographers have had a big impact on you? 
The photographer that has had the biggest impact on me is my friend Anthony Diaz. Back in 2013 he reached out to me to compliment me on the photos I took at Skate and Surf. I had only been shooting shows for less than a year, and Anthony had an amazing portfolio under his belt and years of experience. Since that day, he took me under his wing and taught me everything I know. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if it wasn’t for him. I can go to him with any questions I have and he always answers them. He’s always believed in me more than anyone else has. Every time I wanted to quit, he made sure I wouldn’t. He’s 110% honest when I ask for his opinion on photos. He’s one of my favorite photographers, but above that he’s one of my favorite humans on this planet. I’m very lucky to have someone like him in my life. 

Favorite work you’ve ever done? 
My favorite work I’ve ever done was last year on Vans Warped Tour. It was my first tour ever, and I was out with Epitaph Records. They’re one of my favorite record labels, so it was basically a dream come true. Being responsible for photographing all their artists on the tour for the whole summer was an incredible experience. I really grew a lot as a photographer and a person that summer. When I go back and look at the photos from the tour, I can see how much I improved throughout the tour. It was crazy to see that change happen. No matter what I do, this will always be one of my favorite pieces of work. 

Any advice for aspiring photographers? 
Stay true to yourself and your work. Don’t do things just because other people do them. Don’t change how you like to edit just because other people think another editing style is better. Experiment as you wish, but always do what YOU think is best. Not what others think. It’s your photography, not theirs. Art is subjective. Not everyone will like your work. I see styles of editing that I don’t like all the time, but that’s just life – you’re not going to like everything. You can’t please everyone, so do whatever the heck you want with your photos. If you’re happy and your clients are happy, then no one else matters.