This past year, my work underwent an unquestionable transformation. One look at my “10 Best from 2013” and it becomes vibrantly clear that 2014 was a monumental year for me as a photographer, and more importantly as an artist. Let’s take a look!
You can see the confidence and pride exuded in Zac’s step as he greets the full-house from the stage. They call Fenway Park the “Big Green Monster” for a reason, and if two sold-out nights there don’t count as a home run... then you can sit me back on the bench, coach.
Jimmy De Martini is incredible to watch. He is so precise and deliberate with his violin. But when he cuts loose... he is like an uncaged animal shredding everything in sight. I love how the curved stage elements circle your eye around to Jimmy, no matter where your eye starts.
Daniel De Los Reyes is an wildly animated performer, and a constant source for unique moments on stage. This photo, with his tambourine forever frozen beneath the lights... easily topped my list this year. Kevin Moore and Andrew Oaks do a phenomenal job with the stage lighting each night, and photos like this are proof. The atmosphere and orange tones are superb!
Matt Mangano is all business in this photograph. Rocking his custom John Varvatos suit... he is putting that bass to work! Matt’s position on stage makes him difficult to get to for photos, but here he is completely isolated, and the blue spotlights help keep this image from a flood of red.
Another home run, this time from historic Wrigley Field. The symmetry, sea of shimmering fans, and overall color tone left this image burned into my mind the moment I snapped the shutter.
Here we see Coy Bowles in his mask with matching glow-in-the-dark guitar & Carhartt suit, also painted by Kristian Baena. I love how the spotlight is piercing through the fog with such detail. Everything about this photo, from the costume to the glow-in-the-dark guitar strings, leaves a lasting impression that is over-the-top!
This photo was taken as the song ended, milliseconds before the lights went out to signal the song change. I love this photo because it feels quiet and reflective. The texture stands out to me, possibly more than any photo I shot this past year.
I shot quite a few “jump shots” in 2014, but the way the fog created a silky-smooth atmosphere for the spotlights to pierce, forever suspending John Driskell Hopkins and Clay Cook made this an easy decision as a top moment.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, the biggest difference between last year’s and this year’s top photos... is the dramatic implementation of color. I grew up shooting black-and-white film, and I really have a strong love for images devoid of color. Not only have I totally embraced hue and saturation into my work... I have been making up for lost time by trying to use all of the color in existence. This photo of Zac from The Gorge is a perfect example of that. The entire spectrum is accounted for, and Roy G. Biv would be proud.
Another change in my approach this year is shooting upward. I love this style because it opens up all of the rigging and lighting for a wild array of colors. More importantly, shooting up adds a larger-than-life element to the image... allowing rock stars, like John Driskell Hopkins to tower over the viewer.
This approach can be seen here with Clay Cook as well. I love how the atmosphere seems to hang over his right hand... as if he’s a powerful magician dramatically wowing the crowd with his “sleight of hand”.
Here we see a ferocious moment from Zac during “Enter Sandman”. I remember he was stomping his foot as hard as he could... almost jumping off the ground with each stomp. I could feel the stomps vibrating through the stage as I shot this. It was a visceral moment, and this photo reflects that.
Lastly, another change in my approach this year was to get as close as possible to the moments in an effort to help bring the viewer to places they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get. Like this quiet moment from Chris Fryar as the cymbals rang out at the song’s end.
This photograph, at this point in my career as a tour photographer... is my holy grail of captures.
Full band shots like this are incredibly difficult. There are so many variables at play, making it a rare occurrence when they all line up. Obstructions, variable lighting conditions, even where I can physically get to take the photo... they all play a role, and it seems like those elements are always against you.
This photograph, however... has none of those things. Every band member of the Zac Brown Band is present and accounted for, everyone is totally in the zone... and... Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl are performing on stage with Zac and the boys.
Couple all of that with the fact that this show was THE most difficult show I have shot to date and it becomes easy to see why this is my favorite photograph from 2014.
I will leave you with one extra photo from this past year. This job, and the opportunity to travel with this band and document life on the road is without a doubt... a dream job. Watching these talented gentlemen relentlessly perform night after night in city after city in itself... feels like a dream. I think that my biggest accomplishment this year has not been focusing on color, or texture, or shooting style. I feel that my accomplishment has been taking an experience that feels like a dream to me - and translating that through the camera so that the rest of the world can experience that very same dream.
I am honored and grateful for that opportunity, and cannot wait to see what 2015 brings!