Meet the Best Music Photographers in North Texas - Soundcheck Dallas

Categories: Photography

Lauren Landes Soundcheck Dallas

Earlier, we introduced you to our 12 favorite music photographers in North Texas. We got more than 50 nominations, and our team of expert judges narrowed it down to these 12. Over the next two weeks, we'll be introducing you to each of the finalists in turn by having them share five of their favorite concert photos and answering a few questions about their process and passion. One of are final photographers is Lauren Landes of Soundcheck Dallas, whose work can be viewed from their website, Soundcheck Dallas

Lauren, what's the best thing about live music?

Live music is actually what got me into photography. The lights, the atmosphere, and seeing a band you jam out to in your car - there is something about that leaves you almost euphoric. You also get to experience musicians in their element and see their raw talent - or sometimes their lack thereof. A couple years ago when this man and woman walked on stage to perform and my immediate reaction was, "You have one guitar, two microphones and no band - how are these guys going to hold a crowd's attention?" Turns out when these two - The Civil Wars - hit their first note, they not only grabbed the crowd, but silenced them in a way I have yet to see matched. Other aspects that make live music great is the volume, the energy, the sense of community. But I think ultimately, it's the memory and the connection that each person leaves with that makes live music fantastic.

Lauren Landes Soundcheck Dallas

What makes a great concert photo?

There are usually three things that I really focus on the second I walk into a venue. The first is lighting. For bands where a photo pass is issued, a photographer usually gets 3 songs to shoot while in the photo pit - so getting the lighting down fast is very important. I'll try to look up the band beforehand and see how their previous shows looked so I have an idea of where my camera settings should be - otherwise it's a toss-up. Some shows may only use one color of lighting or they may use a mixture. Some hardly have any lighting, which always produces quite a challenge because the use of a flash is almost always prohibited. If you can figure out the lighting, you're golden. My second focus is looking for an unusual shot. Some bands literally stay in the same place for most of the show - you can only take so many photos of a guy playing a guitar before it becomes mundane. So I look for quirks, face expressions, or try catching the artist looking into the camera. My third focus is to capture an overall feeling. When I look at a concert photo specifically, I want to feel like I'm back at the show. I want others to look at my photos and wish they would have been there. There are other important aspects like setting the camera correctly, making sure the subjects are in focus and choosing the perfect lens. But overall: lighting, an unusual shot and creating a connection are what makes a great concert photo.

What's the strangest thing that has happened to you while photographing live music?

On a professional level, one of the strangest things I have seen is a photographer who was drunk and still drinking while in the photo pit. I remember even the band glancing down with a look of "WTF" on their faces. Outside of the pit, every concert has its odd moments. I've seen everything from the inside of a toilet paper roll being used roll a joint to girls who burst into uncontrollable tears when the band hit the stage to people diving over me to try and get on stage. I've honestly come to the point where I don't notice all the crazy, because out of the ordinary situations are expected when more than a couple hundred excited fans gather in one space.

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