The Nine To Five Alternative

          There’s nothing that can compare to the atmosphere of a live concert. Shooting such events entails focus and flexibility that change from moment to moment. When the lights go out, the crowd starts screaming. Then the band’s movement on stage is followed by the excitement of the crowd, which only grows stronger, vibrating to a crescendo. The lights and explosion of sound present an atmosphere that is full of energy and allows everyone to join in the experience.

           Each place has its own history of music and artists. Some have gained international fame such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, while lesser known musicians strive for popularity with the release of new music. According to the 2012 article, Top 10 Music Cities In the World by Chris Owen, the epicenter for music is London. Many influential artists originated from there, inspiring many musicians. The other cities on the list were: Havana, Tokyo, Berlin, Ibiza, Memphis, Seattle, New York, Nashville, and Austin, Texas. Pittsburgh was once known for its jazz scene, but today it has a variety of artists and venues that range from local to national and international artists. Some of the well-known artists from Pittsburgh include singer Christina Aguelera, rapper Mac Miller, and punk rockers Anti-Flag.

           In The Nine To Five Alternative, I was able to explore multiple aspects of bands, photographing not only the live shows, but also behind the scenes. I drew inspiration from two music photographers. James Minchin, also a film set photographer, captures amazing photographs of his subjects on stage and in character, but especially behind the scenes. His images are raw and gritty, presenting a more realistic view of the music scene. His shooting style and quality of work encouraged me to create images that tell a story. Photographs in his My Chemical Romance’s: The Black Parade Is Dead concert series is one of my favorites. I connected to it as a fan and a photographer, appreciating how his style brings it to life. Each photo reflected the energy, emotion, and movement of the event. Ryan Russell, on the other hand, shoots even more energetic and vibrant images of live concerts. His relationships with the musicians help him to make images that are more intimate. His subjects are comfortable around him, allowing him to record and present an inside look at musician’s lifestyles. Russell’s approach to music photography has led me to reach out to musicians and create those relationships as well.

           There is a certain power that musicians cast over a crowd where the die-hard fans carry out their command obediently. Whether it’s singing the lyrics by heart or jumping to the beat, the interaction between the audience and the musicians can be very powerful.  Musicians can easily start waving their hands and the crowd will mirror the actions. They can even instruct, “Repeat after me!” or “Sing these next words!” There are even times when the whole crowd will go on singing the song and the singer stands there quietly listening to them be the voice of the music, which can be completely captivating. The opportunity to shoot an inside look at musicians’ lifestyle has been a fulfilling journey. I have always appreciated music, but as a photographer I am able to gain a new perspective into the documentary scene that is both refreshing and inspiring.

           In my experience, for most musicians, it’s not only about the money or the fame. Music is their escape. Artistically they are able to get away and express themselves. It’s something they love to do and share with others. Being a musician entails more than a glamorous lifestyle. There is a lot of work put into creating music. Artists can spend hours, days, weeks, and even months on writing and composing songs or preparing for a tour. I think many musicians would agree with Peter Grant who said, “Like most people we work hard, we just don’t clock in the hours”. A lot of effort goes into writing music, creating demos, producing cd’s, booking venues, completing photo shoots and playing as many shows as possible. In the end, no matter how big or small the artists, what matters, is the expression and the connection through their music.

           In this project I chose to shoot all black and white photographs; they have a feel of nostalgia that many people connect and gravitate to. It also makes the viewer look deeper into the details of the image. Blasts of color can grab viewers’ attention, but the absence of it can evoke more feeling. Photographing concerts has been the most rewarding experience I have had. It has led me to so many different opportunities and I have new appreciations experiencing concerts. There’s a certain challenge and excitement when I shoot them. You have to keep on your toes to capture all the different moments that go by instantly and the lively expressions that are animated on stage. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings because a really interesting shot could be happening behind you in the crowd and not always on the stage.

           Going from live concert photography to behind the scenes, it is important to show a different perspective to musicians’ lifestyle. Fans only get to see what happens on stage and how musicians are portrayed on TV. To capture the small intimate moments that musicians have together outside of venues is something you have to photograph organically. It’s important to do this so that you do not disrupt the natural flow of what is going on. There’s something inspiring in capturing musician’s collaborating on a song or uniting before going on stage.  

           No matter where you are to see a concert, the only thing that really matters is the music. It has been a unifying force for years and its power and influence has impacted peoples’ lives and cultures. It is therapeutic, it helps us cope with life and even celebrate life; it gives a voice to our feelings. In The Nine To Five Alternative I hope the documentary series gives a new perspective and appreciation about musicians through the distinctive black and white moments that not only gives insight to their lifestyle, but also present their emotion. 

*Please Click Through The Images