Photographer of the Week
I met Jenna a few months ago in the photo pit for The Maine and she was one of the few super talkative and nice people there that night! Ever since, we’ve stayed friends and I love and admire her work so much! Her site, Beyond The Barricade Photography is also phenomenal and is something I think our site strives to be like one day. If you don’t check out Jenna’s work as a photographer, you’re severely missing out! Anyway, check out an interview with her below.
- What’s in your bag/what gear do you own? What would you like to buy next?
Up until a few days ago, the gear in my bag was all Nikon. I owned a Nikon D60, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens, a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens and an SB-700 flash (I still have all this gear minus the flash – let me know if you’re interested in buying anything haha) I also shot with a D90 a lot, but didn’t own it.
After a LONG decision-making process, I came to the conclusion that when I upgraded gear, I wanted to switch to Canon. I am now the very proud owner of a Canon 5D Mark ii camera and a 35mm f/1.4L lens. I can’t wait to see the difference in my photos and videos with this setup. I don’t have any more money to spend, but I’d probably look into buying the 85mm f/1.8 lens next.
- How long have you been involved with photography? What inspired you to do concert photography?
I’ve been interested in photography since I was a child. I was that kid on the field trips in elementary school with the disposable or other camera taking photos of everyone and everything. In high school I took two years of darkroom photography classes that taught me how to use an SLR camera.
I had always brought my point and shoot to shows with me and tried to take the best photos I could from as close as I could get. Naturally I began to bring my “nice” camera to venues that didn’t require photo passes and practice and really gain experience with concert photography.
- Also, I see you started your own music photography, interview, and coverage site called Beyond The Barricade Photography. What inspired you to start this? What gave you the confidence to finally do it?
I remember that I had been going to shows and taking photos, but didn’t have a legitimate publication to shoot for and didn’t really know how to go about shooting for someone, because there weren’t TOO many online publications around at this time – early 2009 - at least none that I really knew about. I was always shooting for my portfolio, which sometimes worked but a lot of the time it didn’t. I remember going to a show with Cara (who started BTB with me) at Jammin Java in Virginia (I believe it was Ryan Cabrera) and we talked about starting our own site because we were both interested in photography. It was originally just photo and interview based, then we expanded to the Tumblr platform and included more news coverage, and now it’s what you see today!
- Who was the first band/artist you shot?
The first show I shot with my D60 was at Jammin Java in December of 2008 – The Friday Night Boys, Mercy Mercedes, and The Downtown Fiction. I had no idea what to do, but that’s why it’s good to start out and practice at small venues that don’t require passes.
The first show I shot with a photo pass was through All Time Low on the Believers Never Die Part Deux Tour with Hey Monday, Cobra Starship, 50 Cent (what) and Fall Out Boy. April 25, 2009. Big ups to Matt Flyzik for setting that up because that’s what I consider my “big break” and I don’t know if I would have gotten to this point without shooting that show.
- What did your first time in the pit feel like?
Nerve-racking, exciting, cool, new. There were a lot of photographers, I had just gotten my first new lens (the Tamron) and I was shooting some of my favorite bands at a massive pavilion venue. I have terrible memory, and I still remember the whole night pretty clearly because it’s one of my biggest moments to this day.
- Have you ever had a really bad experience with concert photography? Some people say that there are too many cliques or rude experiences in the pit.
The only bad experiences I can think of are when the lighting isn’t great, but you know you need to get good photos to work with. Or when you show up and your pass isn’t at the box office – happens about 50% of the time. This is in the past now but there used to be a publication with a VERY similar name (think a single letter difference) that was started over a year after Beyond The Barricade Photography, and that caused a few problems for a bit. Now that it’s inactive, everything has gone back to normal!
As far as cliques go, I’ve noticed that the concert photography world is a very small web of people. Chances are if we’re in the pit together, we mutually know a certain photographer, who knows other photographers, and everyone is connected somehow. Through Flickr, and more recently Tumblr, I feel that more and more photographers, including myself, have been connecting through their work and forming friendships with other photographers located on the other side of the country (even worldwide). If I see a new photographer at a show, and I don’t recognize the person, chances are I will try to talk to them at some point or another to get to know them. I don’t think I’m the only photography that does this, but it’s a great way to meet other people with similar interests and you can find new show buddies!
- I also see that you’ve shot Warped Tour for a few years. What is that experience like? What’s your least favorite and most favorite part of having a photo pass for Warped?
The experience is really rad – it’s a great opportunity to shoot a ton of bands, some bigger names, all in one day! That being said, it’s a VERY tiring day. My experiences have been pretty good overall – the first year was like a dream because BTB had only been around for about two months prior and this was our first legit coverage. That being said, I had no idea what to expect for the most part and I look back on those photos and I did almost everything wrong (now that I know how to do things the right way).
The best part of having a photo pass for Warped is being able to cover an absurd number of artists in one day. The worst part is that in order to be able to shoot all the artists you want, you have to run around after the three songs allotted, and you end up missing the majority of a band’s set.
- What is your dream band/artist to shoot and/or tour with?
I’m 20 and I like boy bands and pop music – sue me. I would love the opportunity to shoot One Direction or The Wanted, maybe Justin Bieber. But also the chance to shoot a big rock band, like the Foo Fighters or Bon Jovi, would be nuts – only if there wasn’t a contract though.
I’d love to tour with Tonight Alive because I’ve gotten the chance to work with them a bit before and I back those guys and gal 100%. Great people, great music, and I think documenting a tour of theirs would be a ton of fun (especially now that I’ve got my new gear, eh?)
- When you first started photographing bands where you got to meet them/hang out with them did you ever feel star struck?
At first, totally. I would stumble with interview questions (which were total shit by the way) and stuff like that. But I think it was more of a being nervous thing, not so much star struck. The most star struck I think I’ve been during an interview was when I had the opportunity to talk to Emily Osment, better known as Lily on Hannah Montana. It was crazy like girl you are a Disney star and I’m just sitting on the back of your bus with you no big deal.
- Do you edit your photos? If so, what software do you use and how much time and effort do you put into your editing?
I edit my photos in Lightroom – it’s great. If you’re a student I definitely recommend looking into purchasing the student version because it’s a boatload cheaper, easy to use, and really great software overall. I did that when I came to college, so I’ve been using it since around September 2010. I’m not proud, but before Lightroom I “edited” my photos on Picnik. So you don’t need good software to edit, but I also think those old photos are shit for the most part, so it definitely helps.
The time and effort I put into my editing depends on the act and what the lighting was like that night. If it was great lighting, that cuts my time and effort considerably. If the artist is very mellow and doesn’t have a lot of movement on the stage and a lot of the photos look the same, that also cuts my process down because I just choose a few photos to edit. If I sit and force myself to edit the photos I can usually have them up by the next day, but it’s hard to find time in between studying and classes, etc.
- Do you think you have a particular quality about your photography that sets you apart from other photographers?
You tell me? I honestly don’t think I have a particular quality in my photos that makes them more recognizable, but maybe other people see something? I just aim to put out a nice looking photograph and capture the essence of the musician, as corny as that may sound.
- How do you feel your photography has changed since you first began? Do you expect it to change in the future?
It’s gotten better. The first six months to a year I shot in aperture priority mode on my camera, which is a great way to start out and learn low light photography, but once I started shooting in manual mode, things slowly began to improve. A bit after the time I got Lightroom, I finally started shooting in RAW as opposed to JPEG, which helped me to improve upon my photos as well. It’s all about practice, and over time I’ve learned a few wrongs from rights. I pay more attention to settings on my camera, framing the photo, and care about putting out a few great photos rather than putting out a mixed set of 50 great/good/okay photos per band per show.
Hopefully I can take what I’ve learned the past three years and grow even more. I’m really looking forward to shooting with my new gear and I hope that people can see an improvement in my photos because of it!
Get social with Jenna: website | flickr | tumblr | twitter