Photographer of the Week:
Avery Fiftal (one of the photographers for The Harmonic Series!)
- What’s in your bag/what gear do you own? What would you like to purchase next?
I own a Canon Rebel XS (I know, I know…) but am upgrading to a 5D Mark II in the next few weeks! I also almost always shoot with my Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens. My loaded Polaroid camera and my kit lens usually come along just in case, too!
As I said before, I’m purchasing a 5D Mark II next so I won’t have money for new gear for a while… Maybe I’ll get a nifty fifty after because I’ve actually never owned one! Some flashes and flash gear and a fisheye are coming along soon, too.
- How long have you been involved with photography? What inspired you to do concert photography?
For me, I’ve always been interesting in film and photography. It started with home videos and tons of Polaroids and as I grew older, seeing my older brother be a photographer really got me interested!
I’ve actually been involved with photography in a serious manner for around 3 years now, though. I got my current camera about 3 years ago from my family as a Christmas present and it has just grown from there!
My oldest brother who went to Mass Art for film and photography taught me the basics and told me to never shoot on auto, so I’ve taught myself everything from then on! Concert photography started for me last December when I scored a photo pass to a The Maine show in Boston.
The reason I started concert photography is actually quite a funny story. I ended up going to Bamboozle 2011 with two of my friends as a birthday trip! I think it was the first night, we were seeing someone ridiculous like Wiz Khalifa just to experience it, and we ended up around the barricade area for whatever reason. As we waited for him to come on a photographer in the pit came up to us and had me hold his drink for him because he was quite tipsy and needed some assistance. He looked decently young and that’s when I had an epiphany and realized “Woah! That’s where all those awesome concert photos come from! People get to take pictures in front of the crowd and get paid for it!” Obviously now I know it’s not that easy…
I’ve never found out who that photographer was ‘til this day but he had a curly reddish hair an a short sleeve blue button down on so holler at me if you know who he was so I can thank him!
- Who was the first band/artist you shot?
I shot The Maine on their short US tour where they played their album Pioneer from front to back. There was no photo pit and pretty bad lighting, but hey, that’s how I got on my first publication, so yay (thanks Panya, you’re the best!) I actually still like a couple of photos I took at that show, so that’s pretty cool I guess!
- If you could give any advice to newer concert photographers what would you tell them?
Don’t be so afraid of taking chances! Apply to shoot big bands, and even if you get denied, try again next time they tour! I’ve shot bands I never thought I would and worked with some pretty cool people because I took a chance. I’m usually way too shy, but also make friends with everyone. I’ve met some awesome photographers that way. Oh, and know your place. Don’t push people ever and learn the etiquette of a photo pit before you go in.
Also, learn to use your camera on manual settings. It will change your life.
- What did your first time in the pit feel like?
It was actually pretty enjoyable. It was at the Boston House of Blues and though I’ve heard other photographers complain about it before, it was better than any show I had shot before in terms of lighting. Also, I met Jenna Ross and she was super nice and welcoming so that helped me a lot. No one was rude or pushed and I knew enough about my camera that it wasn’t overwhelming. The only bad thing was I tripped on the way out and fell into The Maine’s tour manager… That was quite awkward.
- What is your dream band/artist to shoot and/or tour with?
My dream band to tour with is actually Tonight Alive (it would be nice to have another girl on the tour, and I would never get sick of the accents), All Time Low (don’t try to tell me that wouldn’t be hilarious), Of Mice & Men, or pretty much any band in the CT/MA scene. Basically any band that would be fun to hang out with every day and that puts on an awesome live show!
I would love to shoot blink-182, Mumford & Sons, The Rolling Stones when they were in their prime (Marty Mcfly, hit me up!), or Passion Pit. Obviously Fall Out Boy is up there, and bands like fun., Third Eye Blind, Imagine Dragons, Brand New, and Weezer would be rad.
- Do you edit your photos? If so, what software do you use and how much time and effort do you put into your editing?
Yes I do edit my photos! I use mainly Lightroom to fix colors, exposure, and to watermark, then I often bring them into Photoshop to deal with levels and anything further. I don’t use Photoshop as much as I should, though.
I actually put way too much effort into editing photos most of the time. I’ll try 4 different edits on a picture I like until it’s perfect and that sometimes takes up to an hour or two. Usually, I can fix simple things in 5-10 minutes though if it’s well exposed and such.
- Do you think you have a particular quality about your photography that sets you apart from other photographers?
I actually have no idea. Maybe you can tell me?
I guess the way I use lights in my pictures sets me apart. I use a lot of internal white balances so before I even edit my photos the colors of lights are usually pretty crazy and spot on! Once I edit I like to do a lot of silhouettes or have very defined light in my pictures. I try to have something interesting with light even in outdoor photos.
- How do you feel your photography has changed since you first began? Do you expect it to change in the future?
My photography has developed from something that was good just because of luck to something that is now based on things that I’ve learned. I used to just turn on the camera, point it at something, and press the shutter but now it’s become an art to me and something I really enjoy creating. My high school photography teacher has made this entirely possible by supporting me in everything I do. Photography also become something I want to do with my life (photojournalism at BU!) and has become something that helps define me. It has made me amazing friends that I can relate to and given me experiences of a life time. So more than anything, I have to say that photography has changed me more than I’ve changed my photography.
In the future, the main changes I hope to see is that it can develop to be technically better and that it an being me to new better places in life. I’d love to some day tour with bands or be a pit reporter for Warped. To me, it seems like photography and music are two of the main things that make me happy in life, so I hope they’re both things that I can keep involved with and maybe use as a profession one day. I just like to be happy with the things I do. :)
Get social with Avery: Facebook | Tumblr | Flickr