In early 2013, I had a giant decision to make…
I make my living as a photographic artist, creating High School Senior Portraits, Maternity/Family/Child Portraits and Weddings. Concert Photography is a passion, but, does not bring in much money. I founded Hollywood Icon Magazine and Santa Barbara Music News (the latter one, in the past year) to give fans the best in live music coverage. But, it has become really tough to find the time to keep them rolling- at the level of excellence that I demand. So, I spent the first three months of the year, deciding whether to keep shooting concerts, in my free time. A lot of deep thought and prayer went into my decision. I also had a new baby, who was expected in September and it would be harder to give up my nights.
After a few months of quiet pondering, I made the decision to jump back in! There was simply too many great opportunities to create amazing images and too many years of hard work, to build the publications to where they are today. Yes, the passion for portraits will always come first. But, the concerts would remain!
What a year in Concert Photography! It was truly a roller coaster. I am SO incredibly thankful to get to do, what I do. Alongside all of the hard (and sometimes grueling) work, come moments of extreme euphoria and creative heights. I am going to attempt to tell the story of the year, in pictures… Every show that I got to create images at, will be described, over three articles. Come on… let’s go for a ride!
How epic is it, to start off the year shooting your favorite band, at a small charity show? In fact, how cool is it that I got to see Switchfoot at the beginning of 2013 and then again at the end- 2000 miles away (in Montana, as they premiered their Fading West documentary)? The city was Santa Barbara (one of my “home” photography cities) and the charity was Kids Helping Kids. The venue was the historic and art deco Granada Theatre. Brad Corigan from Dispatch was the opener and we had zero shooting restrictions!
Surfing legend and musician Tom Curren, joined the band onstage. Curren would later appear in Switchfoot’s documentary Fading West- which would be the center of the bands tour and upcoming album…
While I was waiting for Santa Barbara Bowl season to begin, I thought I would grab some shots of country/rock singer Ryan Bingham. He played at another historic and unique Santa Barbara venue- The Lobero Theatre. While the lighting was not ideal for photography, Bingham’s relaxed, yet strong stage presence made it fun to capture some noisy and bluesy images. If you remember, Bingham worked with T-Bone Burnett on the Crazy Heart movie soundtrack and ended up winning a Grammy Award. Santa Barbara resident Jeff Bridges won the Best Actor Academy Award, for the movie.
So many of us look forward to April, when the Santa Barbara Bowl opens!… It was quite a blastoff, with TWO straight nights of shows! I had the pleasure of covering 80’s legends (the band who was birthed by Joy Division) New Order, along with legendary song writer and guitarist for The Smiths (with Morissey) Johnny Marr. After taking the hour drive home to Westlake Village and a night of frantic editing, I was back off to the SB! The second night would be a dream-come-true, as I got to experience the brilliance that is Jonsi and his Icelandic band Sigur Ros. If you want a great look into the band, try renting the Cameron Crowe movie, We Bought A Zoo. As Crowe is a movie soundtrack genius- it gives even more power to the fact that he chose this band to create the vibe for his Matt Damon/Scarlett Johanson led film.
The 1980’s goodness just kept dominating the start of the 2013 concert season. The Kings of the Mic tour rolled through SB… What a lineup! How about De La Soul, brand new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Public Enemy and LL Cool J! The day was non-stop, hip-hop goodness!
Next up, was a trek out to San Bernadino, for the Gentlemen of the Road tour… This ended up being one of the highlights of the year, getting to photograph Mumford & Sons, with EELS and Michael Kiwanuka. The outdoor venue was sold out, on a Sunday evening and the sunset was incredible (partly because of giant forrest fires, which were raging in the distant mountains). The Marcus Mumford led quartet is one of the best live acts, on the planet. I got to photograph them, at the beginning of their meteoric rise to stardom (their first “big” headlining show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 2 years ago). Now, I caught them at the height of their popularity, at a sold out San Manuel Ampitheatre.
This was the most incredible photography week, of the year! Mumford & Sons on a Sunday, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on that Thursday and Hillsong United on Friday! I was seriously in heaven. There are certain weeks, like this, in concert photography where all of the sweat, hard work and patience pay off!
Hillsong United is an Australian band, who started playing small churches in Hollywood and has now sold out Staples Center and the Hollywood Bowl, in the past 2 years. These are epic, worship-filled concerts that are game-changers for many of the people who attend. This show was a unique experience, as I got to interview some of the band, before the show. I had such a great time, hanging out and being encouraged by Jad and Matt. After the interview, I was told that I would be shooting song 1, from the photo pit (directly in front of the stage) and then 2 songs from further back. 5 minutes before the show started, I was pulled out by a Bowl employee and told that I had to shoot from quite a ways behind the sound board. Because of the sudden change, I did not have the correct equipment for the best coverage, but, you are there for one reason- to get the shots. So, I went another direction and went for capturing the atmosphere and grandeur of a sold out Bowl.
As the Summer of 2013 began, Warped Tour rolled through Ventura. This tour features some of the exciting, young indie talent in the punk and rock genres. It is a wonderfully run tour, founded by the legendary Kevin Lyman. This genre of music is truly fun to capture, as you get lots of stage-diving, crowd surfing, jumps and head banging.
Note: I use the Nikon D4 camera with Nikor lenses and Transcend Memory Cards
CLICK HERE: PART 2- BEST OF 2013 CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
CLICK HERE: PART 1- BEST OF 2013 CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
JB BROOKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Also Serving Brentwood, Leiper’s Fork and the Nashville Areas
“My name is JB Brookman. I’m a rock star concert photographer who grew up shooting the biggest stars in the world. The stages and venues of Hollywood and LA used to be my home, but now I have made a home in the suburbs of Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. Shooting Taylor Swift, U2, Elton John and Ed Sheeran is great, but my true passion is creating highly stylized, authentic and modern portraits of High School Seniors, making them feel like they are at the center of the stage.”
Additional Portfolio at: Family, Children, Headshots, Sports, Landscape, Commercial Photography JB Brookman Photography