2015 was an interesting year. It had its ups and downs, I was really happy with a lot of my photos, but unhappy with others. I learned a lot of new things, played around with some new techniques, reshaped my style, and most importantly, shot nearly every single show this year for my own publication. In years past, I have shot for other publications or freelance, but this being my second year of co-running The Prelude Press, I managed to shoot almost every single show (with the exception of a couple of freelance gigs, and a few shows for New Noise Magazine) for myself.
I grew and leaned a lot this year, shot a lot of bands that I’ve been dying to shoot for a while now, and some others that I love shooting and have photographed a million times. Looking back on it, this year was all about capturing magical, emotional moments that meant something, and I’m super happy with how this year turned out.
I got all access to shoot one of my favorite bands, the chance to be an amazing artist’s official photographer for a night, and got to shoot Warped Tour for the second time in a row, and Riot Fest for the first time ever, among countless other amazing things. 2015 has been absolutely incredible, and I’m so thankful that I have the photos to show for it.
Below are some of my favorite images from 2015 in no particular order, as well as the stories behind them. I can’t wait for 2016!
Crossfaith @ Vans Warped Tour, Denver CO, 8/2/15
This was my second year in a row shooting Warped Tour, and I’m really glad that I took someone’s advice and checked out Crossfaith. Having only listened to them once or twice and knowing that they were crazy live, but unsure of how crazy exactly, this set was a dream come true. Keep in mind that I only shot the first three songs, so that means that their keyboardist had already chugged some Jäger and leapt into the crowd before those three songs were over. They’re insane and amazing to shoot, and this was easily my favorite shot I took all day!
Pierce The Veil @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 1/31/15
2015 started big with Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens & PVRIS on The World Tour in January. I love shooting PTV and SWS and was dying to shoot PVRIS, so I was really excited for this show, and it ended up being one of my favorite shoots of the entire year. I struggled a lot while choosing a favorite photo from this show, so I decided to stick with the photo that I posted first because I was so in love with it. I just really love how crisp and clean this image is.
Silverstein @ Summit Music Hall, 2/6/15
A week after World Tour, I got to shoot Silverstein’s Discovering The Waterfront 10 year anniversary tour, and it was even more amazing than I could have ever imagined. My friends in My Iron Lung were on this tour, and I did a really fun photo shoot with them before the show, and they gave me all access to shoot their set. (You can see all of the photos of them from both the shoot and the show at the link below.) This whole show was an incredible experience, from the hospitality of My Iron Lung to the kindness of the crew, as the venue didn’t want to allow me backstage at first, but a crew member told them to let me in. I don’t know who it was, but thank you!
Anyway, Silverstein has been one of my favorite bands for years, so I jumped at the opportunity to shoot their whole set as well, especially considering how beautiful their lighting was. This photo was taken during “My Heroine,” as the crowd was singing along. It was magical. 10/10 would do again.
frnkiero and the cellabration @ The Marquis, 3/5/15
I learned a lot about shooting at The Marquis this year, and this show was the first of those many learning experiences. I was in the midst of freaking out about actually getting to shoot Frank Iero, something that I thought was never going to happen, when the TM told me that I would not be able to shoot side stage. Now, if you’ve ever been to The Marquis, you know how packed it can get, and as a photographer, it’s pretty damn difficult to get up front to get good photos of the headliner. It’s always easier to shoot side stage. However, easier doesn’t always mean better, and I definitely learned that with this show.
Instead of getting upset or discouraged about my photos, I said “fuck it” and charged into the crowd with the intention of getting good photos no matter what it took. I took my external flash off of my camera and handed it to my boyfriend, so that I wouldn’t be too in the way of fans, and, as politely as I could, I shoved my way through the crowd until I was almost all the way up front. Thankfully, it seemed that the fans were all very nice and accommodating and some of them even pushed me further so I could get closer.
I had only shot at The Marquis without a flash once or twice before this show, but apparently, the lighting gods decided to be kind to me this day, because I ended up getting some of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken at this show, and of one of my favorite musicians. When I wasn’t happy with my photos at first, my boyfriend told me to get back in there and keep shooting till I got good ones, and I’m so freaking glad that I did. I kept a positive attitude, tried my hardest, and ended up falling in love with all of my photos, but especially this one in particular. (Sorry this one was really long, I just have a lot of feelings.)
Four Year Strong @ The Marquis, 9/8/15
I shot Four Year Strong twice this year, but their show at The Marquis was definitely the better of the two. They were just made to play intimate venues like this, and I feel like this photo totally showcases that! And remember that thing I said about learning new ways to shoot at The Marquis? Well, I wanted to be able to get good photos of every member of FYS, which is damn near impossible from side stage, so I decided to stake out a spot on stage right and sit up on top of a monitor so I was out of the way from the crowd and safe from stage divers (like my friend Trevor in this photo, for instance.) Shooting this show was different from any other show I’ve ever shot at The Marquis, which made it a fun learning experience. Plus, I love when I get photos of people I know at shows.
Haste The Day @ The Marquis, 5/29/15
Speaking of getting photos of people I know at shows, that’s my friend Danie standing on top of the crowd at Haste The Day. Her and I actually met because I took some photos of her in the crowd at Warped Tour last year. Funny how things work out.
I also really love this photo because, out of the four album release shows that Haste The Day played, I got to shoot their Denver show, and I was the only photographer there. On top of that, there were a ton of people standing side stage at this show and I thought for sure that I wasn’t going to get any good shots, but the guys in Haste The Day and all of their friends were super nice and accommodating and let me through to get the shots I needed.
Terror @ Summit Music Hall, 6/6/15
I really love this photo from Terror, and it's also another photo of people I know in the crowd, haha. They are most certainly NOT meant to play venues with barricades, and I hate shooting Terror with one as much as the band hates playing with one and as much as fans hate it too, but I really love this photo. While it’s not really overly artistic or even of the band, I love this photo because I know quite a few of the people in it, but also because of just how many crowd surfers there are at once. I mean, look at them. There are five that you can count in the photo, not counting the crowd that was just as rowdy behind them, too. It was insane. I love the passion and the energy here. Photos like this are why I’m always reminded to turn around and snap some shots of the crowd, too.
The Word Alive @ Summit Music Hall, 3/17/15
This wouldn’t be an end of the year photo roundup if it didn’t include at least one photo of Telle Smith screaming at my camera. This show was another that I was super excited for in 2015, mainly because I just love shooting The Word Alive so much. They’re always so fun and always interact well with photographers, and this show was no exception. I can’t wait to shoot them again in 2016!
The Devil Wears Prada @ Summit Music Hall, 3/17/15
This photo was taken at the same show as the photo of Telle Smith above. I have always loved shooting The Devil Wars Prada, so it’s no surprise that this show was a ton of fun too. Their vocalist, Mike is always so emotive on stage, and I really love his expression and the movement in this photo, from his hair to his hand to the cord from the mic. I love the burst of light behind him, too. This was seriously just a perfect moment. I love capturing special moments like this.
The Used @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 4/12/15
This was my first time shooting The Used, and it was an absolute blast! I have loved them for years, and watched a ton of live videos of them before this show to prepare myself for it, because I wanted to get the best photos possible. The only thing that sucked was how tall the stage is at The Fillmore, but that was easy to overcome and forget about as soon as the band started playing and I saw their beautiful lighting. I chose this photo, because originally, I thought it was a throwaway shot, but coincidentally, my friend Ashley texted me out of the blue the day after the show, giving me some random editing advice, and what she told me actually ended up saving this photo and helping me out a lot for the rest of the year. So thanks, Ashley, if you’re reading this! I am so happy with this photo.
Cypress Hill @ Riot Fest Denver, 8/28/15
This year was also my first year shooting Riot Fest, which was just an incredible experience on its own. Not only did I get to shoot people I never thought I’d even have the chance to see, like Tenacious D, The Pixies & Ice Cube, I also got some photos that I’ll love forever. I chose this one of Cypress Hill because I never shoot artists like them, and I never get photos like this. I love how simple this is, and I love the lighting in it.
Rise Against @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 8/16/15
I’ve seen Rise Against a few times, but I never shot them until this show, and it was an amazing experience. Their stage setup and lighting was incredible, their fans were rowdy, and they were a ton of fun to photograph! I also really love when I can get a wide shot of a band member and the entire stage setup, and that’s what happened in this photo, on top of capturing a really raw moment. Again, I live for moments like this, which makes this photo one of my favorites from this year.
letlive. @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 8/16/15
I also got to shoot some of my favorite people in the world at the Rise Against show, as letlive. was opening up for them. It was pretty insane, mostly because, as many times as I have photographed letlive., I’ve never seen them on a stage quite this big. The lighting was god awful for the majority of their set, but I made it work and ended up getting some photos that I’m in love with. I also normally struggle when it comes to getting good photos of Ryan, so I’m especially happy with this photo. The moment, the lights, and the little droplets of water in the air made for a really beautiful photo.
Dashboard Confessional @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 7/9/15
Shooting Dashboard Confessional this year was a total dream come true. I have loved them for so long that the fact that I actually got to photograph them was absolutely surreal. Even more surreal was the fact that, after the usual three songs that photographers are allotted to photograph an artist, Chris Carrabba leaned down into the barricade, and told security to let the photographers stay as long as they liked, as long as they were having fun. It was amazing, and easily the most fun I’ve ever had at a show. On top of that, Dashboard’s production was absolutely amazing. Some of the easiest and prettiest lights I’ve ever shot. Also, Third Eye Blind was headlining, and being able to shoot them was insane too. Overall, this night was just remarkable.
Melanie Martinez @ The Ogden, 10/7/15
I’m so in love with Melanie Martinez. Not only is she an incredible performer and super fun to take photos of, but her stage setup and lighting production was absolutely incredible for this show. I tried not to edit these photos too much, as it was apparent that everything was lit and colored for a specific reason. Everything about this show had meaning, and she is such a passionate performer that it was a joy to photograph her. This show was also awesome because I was one of only two photographers this night. I really love how much she emotes on stage and how it translated into the photos!
Enter Shikari @ The Marquis, 4/14/15
God, this show was madness. I got to the venue early only to find out there was no room for me to stand side stage, so a staked a claim in the corner of the room where I knew I’d meet the least amount of stage divers, and stayed there all night to get good photos. The tour lighting was disgustingly hot and I was all gross and sweaty by the time the first band finished playing, but I ended up getting some of my favorite photos ever at this show. The things I do for good photos.
Enter Shikari is seriously one of the funnest bands to photograph, though. They’re wild on stage, their lighting is incredible, and their fans are even crazier. I planned on staying in my little corner of the crowd for the entire night, but the Rou Reynolds climbed into the crowd and started heading toward the back of the venue, and I sprinted after him, and ended up getting this shot of him perched up on the small balcony, with the stage and the rest of the band in the background. It was wild. I really couldn’t believe that this moment happened. In fact, I still cant. Damn.
Black Veil Brides @ Vans Warped Tour, Denver CO, 8/2/15
Two years ago, when I was naive and judgmental, I never thought I’d say that I was excited about shooting Black Veil Brides, nor did I think I’d say that one of my favorite photos would be of frontman Andy Biersack. But honestly, even if I don’t really listen to them, I can appreciate a talented, passionate, and fun to watch band when I see one, and man, are Black Veil Brides all of those things. Plus, Andy is super photogenic. The camera loves him, so he was a dream to shoot. I really love this photo because of how sharp and clean it is, but also because of the passion and emotion on his face. It was an easy shot, but one I really love.
Beartooth @ Vans Warped Tour, Denver CO, 8/2/15
Beartooth was another great band that I loved shooting at Warped Tour, both because of how much I love their music and because I know how crazy, emotional and passionate they are on stage. And also because I know how much guitarist Kamron Bradbury loves to climb in the crowd. I’ll admit, I cheated a little, because I knew he was going to do this at some point during their set, and I was hoping it was during the first three songs, so when he started climbing off of the stage, I immediately followed and snapped a ton of photos of him in the crowd. However, I really love the look on not only Kamron’s face as he looked back at the rest of the band, but also on the faces of all of the fans in the crowd. This moment was really special, and I’m glad I captured it.
letlive. @ The Fillmore Auditorium, 8/16/15
In the past, I have tried really hard to color correct a lot of my live shots to save skin tones or make them look more pleasing. Reds and blues are a pain in the ass to shoot, and don’t always make photos particularly pretty, but sometimes, they really make the moment. While I love editing the crap out of photos and changing them to look how I want them to, I am also first and foremost a photo journalist. When I shoot shows, I am doing so so that people can look back on the photos and remember being there, or look at the photos and wish they were there. In some ways, editing the lighting and making the photos look completely different is lying to those people. While I certainly think there is a time and place for everything (and I still will edit some photos more than others, when needed) I’m really glad that I left this photo of Jason of letlive. as raw and simple as this moment was.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a “favorite photos” post without at least one photo of Jason, and this is one of my favorite photos I took of letlive. this year. Why? Because of the reasons stated above. It’s raw and emotional. It’s a moment that Jason took to himself in between singing, screaming, or talking to the crowd. To over edit this photo and make it something that it’s not would be a crime, because this particular moment was so real and beautiful. The photo needed to reflect that.
Maybe this just sounds really lame and cheesy, maybe I’m overthinking it, but even though this isn’t a huge, explosive moment with crazy bright lights or beautiful stage production, it’s a moment, and that’s what concert photography is all about.
Also if you’re reading this Jason, sorry I got all sappy about another photo of you this year haha.
Twenty One Pilots @ Red Rocks, 9/27/15
I honestly still can’t believe I took this photo. Nor can I believe I shot this show. I photographed Twenty One Pilots almost two years ago when they were still pretty small, and to see them at an insanely sold out Red Rocks show was, well, insane. This was the only show I shot at Red Rocks this year, and I’m glad that of all of them, it was this one. I love Twenty One Pilots for the same reasons I love shooting a lot of bands on this list, and that’s because of how passionate they are on stage, and how much care they put into their live production and performances. Their lights were hard to shoot at times, but really beautiful, and they were wild onstage as always. This moment was honestly just a perfect moment. The white front lights came one and Tyler Joseph was running across the stage and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Minimal editing went into this photo because, like the photo of letlive. above, I wanted it to tell the same story that everyone at the show saw. (And also because it would be unnatural for a Twenty One Pilots photo to not be red.)
Thrice @ Riot Fest Denver, 8/29/15
I fucking love Thrice. I mean, that’s not the only reason this photo made it on this list, but it’s a big factor. I shot them back when they did their farewell tour, but that was when I was still learning, and not really sure what I was doing, so it was nice to be able to have a second chance at Riot Fest. This was also when I was just starting to play around with this style of double exposures, and I am really happy with the way this photo turned out. I just wanna shoot Thrice all the time.
Circa Survive @ The Ogden, 11/4/15
Remember that thing I said about leaving photos raw and not trying to color correct them? I really played around with that with some of my photos of Circa Survive. Going into this show, I knew that the majority of their lights were blue and it was just something I was going to have to deal with. So instead of getting upset and letting it effect the way I shot, or instead of over editing them to try to fix it, I simply accented the blues and made it glow a bit more, if that makes sense. Circa Survive had a live lighting production for a reason. If they didn’t want blue lights, they wouldn’t have them, so it only made sense to accent that, rather than get rid of it. Anthony Green was also really hard to shoot because of how much he moved around, but I ended up getting a lot of photos I loved, especially this one, which I think is really special, considering the guy in the corner has a Circa Survive tattoo on his arm. I love it.
Lights @ The Ogden, 12/1/15
Lights was a totally magical experience all on its own. I originally didn’t plan on covering this show for my magazine because I really needed some time off of shooting shows by the end of the year. But when I heard that Lights was doing an all access “Lights Live Pass” contest, I knew I had to enter. Basically, she was choosing one photographer per show to shoot her entire set from anywhere in the venue. I really didn’t think I’d win, but I decided fuck it and entered, and a week before the show, I got an email saying that they chose me! It was amazing. Unfortunately at my show, there was no backstage access due to limited room for me, but I got to shoot her entire set and be her “official” photographer for the night, and that was still a one of a kind experience. She is an amazing performer, her production was beautiful, and she and her fans were some of the most kind hearted people ever. I’m so happy with all of my photos from this show, but especially this one, because of the explosion of light and color behind her. It was a beautiful, unforgettable moment
The Wonder Years @ The Ogden, 10/27/15
Last but certainly not least, The Wonder Years. I’m not gonna lie, I saved my favorite photo for the end. Sorry not sorry.
This show was the embodiment of how I’ve grown over the past year, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I’ve shot The Wonder Years a handful of times since I first started shooting shows, and even recently this year at Warped Tour, but as much as I love this band, I have never really loved any of the photos I’ve taken of them. Sure, I’ve captured Soupy’s signature posi-jump, and I loved taking photos of him in his awesome Bernie Sanders shirt at Warped Tour, but none of those photos ever really stood out or felt magical to me. So it only makes sense that I really love my photos of The Wonder Years from a show where everything could have possibly gone wrong, if I wasn’t well equipped to deal with it.
When I got to the show, I was told that I was allowed barricade access to shoot all of the bands (which is normal) except The Wonder Years (which is not). I’ve shot a couple of shows where the headliners pulled barricade access, but all of those I knew about ahead of time, and it was usually because the band was recording the show, but I had no idea that it was going to be the case for this show or why. BUT instead of throwing a fit about it or just accepting the fact that my photos were gonna suck without barricade access and a longer lens, I fucking dealt with it.
This year was a lot of that for me - getting told that I had no side stage or barricade access last minute, showing up only to find out that lighting was awful or I had to shoot from the crowd, or in the case of Riot Fest, finding out last minute that I didn’t have access to shoot one of my favorite bands. But, over the past year, I’ve grown and learned quite a lot about dealing with a less than favorable situation and making it work. So instead of getting upset or complaining, I said, “Nope. I’m getting good photos. This is happening,” and I shoved my way (politely, of course) through the crowd, found a good spot, and waited for the right moment. Thankfully, The Wonder Years had beautiful lighting, their fans were all incredibly nice, and they put on a great performance. It’s funny that my favorite photo of this band is from a show where everything could have gone wrong, rather than earlier this year where I had perfect outdoor lighting and a massive barricade to shoot in, but it sort of makes sense.
This year was all about saying “Fuck it, I’m getting this photo,” getting it done, and capturing beautiful moments, and that’s why this one is my favorite. Now hopefully, I can grow even more next year.