How long have you been doing photography for?
I’ve been doing photography since January of 2015, so about two and a half years.
What made you want to pursue it?
I already went to a lot of shows in high school, and I had used photographers’ live shots of my favorite bands as my wallpaper on my phone and computer, and one day I was like “I wonder how you start shooting shows…” So then I googled it, and was like “Okay, I definitely want to give this a shot.” My dad had a Canon XTI he said I could use, and I saved up the money for a 50mm 1.8, and I shot my first show at Bottom Lounge (Stick To Your Guns, The Amity Affliction, and Being As An Ocean), later that month. It also helped that my friend Rachel’s brother Adam is a photographer, and had recently gotten to shoot Lights at House of Blues. When I found out Adam had done it, I was like “This definitely isn’t as farfetched as it seems… I’m doing it.”
What’s the most difficult part of your career been so far?
I think the most difficult part of my career has definitely been that there is such a surge in interest in doing concert photography. It’s not bad that a lot of people have shown an interest in music photography, it just makes it tougher to make yourself known. It’s a real motivator to always put 100% into every shot, because the long-term goal is to do this full-time, and to do that, you can’t ever settle down. There’s always room for improvement. I think another difficult part has been learning to not compare my work with others’. Starting out I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t get shots to turn out exactly how I wanted them, but over time I realized that nobody starts out at the top. You have to work for it, and once you find your style, and once you find what works for you, it feels so incredible and rewarding.
Do you have favorite show you’ve shot? What is it?
Yes! It was when I shot Trophy Eyes at Bottom Lounge a few months ago, because it was the first show I ever shot on film and digital. It was really cool to see one of my favorite bands play such an intimate show, and I’m really happy with how my shots turned out.
Is there a show you’d love to shoot again?
I think if there was any show I would want to shoot again, it would be Architects at Bottom Lounge, because their light design was the most stunning thing I had ever seen. At such a small venue, it’s very rare that there is fantastic lighting, but that show had the best lighting I had ever seen in my life, and I got to share the photo pit with a few friends as well, which made it even better.
How would you describe your personal style?
I feel like my style fluctuates from band to band, just because my personal belief is that I want the photos I shoot to reflect the band’s sound. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like if they’re a very gentle band, I want the photos to feel soft and light, whereas if they are really funky, I want to use contrasting, technicolor-style tones. Overall, I think that my style ranges a lot depending on the circumstances, but in the end it’s still notably mine. No matter what colors or tones I use, I still shoot for a very retro vibe.
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?
Yes, but not often. I get guys who immediately find out I’m a photog and the first question they ask is what gear I use, because apparently everything is a pissing contest. That doesn’t bother me too much, though. There’s something else that does.
One aspect of being a woman in this field that people don’t pay attention to is actual safety. There have been a few times where shooting shows, I have had older men try to pursue me, either following me throughout a venue, or looking me up and down, and usually, they do not leave me alone unless I text one of the guys I’m shooting with and ask them to come stand by me. Safety at shows should not be an issue, but unfortunately it is. I actually have a friend who is currently working as a staff photographer for Summerfest in Milwaukee, and she left her phone in a stage manager’s office without realizing it. The stage manager saw my name in her recent contacts, and called me, not explaining who he was or what was going on, and told me he was kidnapping her. Of course, knowing that things go on, I called the police. None of our friends could reach her for around an hour, at which point she realized her phone was missing, went back to get it, and saw what had happened. Luckily my friend was fine, but a different girl did go missing yesterday at the fest. Safety while working events as a young woman is a huge issue, and a lot of people don’t realize it or take it seriously until something happens.
What other photographers have had a big impact on you?
There are actually a few. My good friend Victoria Sanders, who runs The Photo Ladies, has been a great role-model for me the entire time I’ve known her. She gives fantastic advice about work and life in general, and is always so kind to anyone who asks for help. Another photographer who has had a huge impact on me has been Jordan Hefler. I met her working for Stitched Sound, and I have always loved how vibrant and fun her style is. A third would have to be Jess Diaz, whose work I had seen around for a while before I actually got to meet her. Jess is so hard-working, and the tones in her shots are always to die for. I love her work.
Best work you’ve ever done?
I think the best work I’ve ever done has to be from when I shot Old Wounds at Big Shots. Their lighting was solid red, but somehow I got it from this horrid glowing color to a really filmy orange, and I was so excited with the final result. That’s definitely my proudest moment, because that was around the time I realized how important understanding the color wheel is for editing photos from shows. I’m still really proud of the shots from that night.
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
I actually have a few things to give as advice for aspiring photographers. First one – don’t be intimidated by other photographers, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Odds are, the photographer you’re afraid to ask for advice had the same question at some point in their career. Second – gear d o e s n o t make the photographer. The photographer makes the gear. You don’t need a two-thousand dollar body and an L lens to take a good picture. Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken were shot on a t3i and a hundred dollar lens I bought used. Yes, a good camera improves the quality of the shots, but if you’re a good photographer, it’ll show no matter what gear you’re using. In the same way, if you’re a bad photographer, you can shoot with the best camera on God’s green earth and your shots will still be bad. So don’t ever let someone make you feel bad about the gear you’re using. Next – there is always room for growth. There will always be something new to learn, so stay on top of it and never be afraid to experiment and learn new things. Last but not least – have fun! When you do photography, it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Don’t let it turn into a chore. When you make photos, do it out of love, do it out of passion, and do it to have fun!