The Work Routine: Part I


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I thought it might be interesting for some readers to see behind the curtain of concert photography by explaining my work routine.  I’ll cover it in three parts:  Preshoot, the Shoot and Post production.  Welcome to part one:  The Preshoot.

The Preshoot ritual is variable, depending on the venue, but here are my guidelines:

1~  When in doubt, pack it.

I like options and variations, especially with lenses.  Unless the shoot is from the soundboard at an arena, I like to have two lenses with me:  The 24-70mm and the 70-200mm.  These are my ‘go to’ lenses and even (sometimes often) if I only stick with one of the lenses, I like knowing that I have the other one with me ‘just in case’. 

2~  Make sure everything is in working condition and batteries are fully charged.  Yes, I’ve been to a concert only to realize that I forgot to charge my battery the night before.  It happens.  It’s important to go through your equipment before getting to the venure and making sure everything is fully charged and in working condition.  I learned my lesson!

3~  Have a spare.  I always carry a spare fully charged battery with me ‘just in case’.  If I don’t need it, no harm done, but if another photographer could use it, I’m happy to help them out.  I also carry extra SD cards with me, too.  Sometimes a ‘first three songs’ situation turns into being able to shoot the whole concert and by having extra SD cards, I know I have the memory to capture every moment.

4~  Showing up on time means you’re 15 minutes late.  To me, it’s so important to arrive to the venue a little early.  If my photo pass isn’t available, for instance, I have time to call the right people to get it.  Usually, it’s just a matter of Will Call not having the media list, but if the problem is bigger, arriving early give me time to fix the problem or come up with an alternative action plan.

Another benefit of arriving early is that I can usually recon the venue and find the best place to capture my images.  Of course, this is largely dependent on both the venue and the terms of the shoot, but I like to walk around and get a feel of the place when I can.

Finally, arriving early gives me the chance to introduce myself to ushers and security.  They will then know who I am, what I’m doing and how long I’ll be there. 

5~  Carry a point and shoot.  There is nothing worse than arriving to a venue only to learn that all media has been cancelled and photo passes are being denied.  It happens and it sucks.  But sometimes, the venue will release seats to the media as a consulation prize.  If you have a point and shoot camera with you, you may still be able to capture what you need.

6~  Relax and enjoy yourself.  Concert photography is fun and every photographer has a unique point of view.

Stay tuned for Part II:  The Shoot


A Quiet Quarter


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For several months, and especially the last six weeks or so, I have been living a quieter life and one that does not revolve around photography.  The winter season is typically a slow concert season, so I focused on smaller gigs and my 365+1 Days of Awesomeness photography project.

But I soon realized I needed a complete break from photography.  My 365+1 Days project was feeling increasingly like an obligation and I suspected I was starting to take ‘easy’ photos of the day (like photos of the cats or sunsets), instead of trying to capture an image that represented the day.  The whole point of my 365+1 Days project was to create a visual diary, with one photo capturing perfectly the day.  I didn’t feel I was doing it justice.  And I didn’t care.  So I stopped.

Concert photography, as I had mentioned, is slower in the winter months, so I did a concert here, another one there but almost everything left me feeling empty.  My big international trip was a bust when all media credentials were pulled two hours before the show.  (Fortunately, we were able to obtain seats but I had to use my point and shoot and although the shots were good, they weren’t what I was expecting to capture at all).  That’s when I realized that I was burned out and needed a break.  The egos in the music business (mine included) were getting in the way of my passion for concert photography.

So what have I been up to?  I’ve had great conversations (and a couple not so great arguments) with Charlie.  I’ve ended my days curling up with a book.  I’ve caught up with old friends and made some new friends.  I’ve painted, planted and prayed.  I’ve enjoyed my quieter life.

The concert season is starting up again and I’m scheduled to shoot tonight.  I’m in negotiations with a music festival and had a major publication ask about my availability for a late summer concert.  I’m excited about the future and getting behind the camera again.  I want to better share my photography in both image and written form.  Although I’m not sure about the future of my 365+1 Days project, I’m going to start keeping a camera with me everywhere I go, like I did before.  Maybe I’ll ease back into it, maybe I won’t.  Regardless, I’m going to make photography about passion again and not obligation.

I suppose every artist goes through a period of self-exile.  Periods of re-evaluation are constant but a full fledged exile has its value, too.  It is in exile that you clearly see where you’ve been, map out where you want to be and plan how to get there. 

I think I’m ready for the journey.

EyeEm Greater Than Instagram


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A few months ago, I wrote about why I’m not on Instagram.  Since then, I’ve been looking for an alternative and I’m happy to say that I found it with EyeEm.

EyeEm, like Instagram, is a social media app that allows one to use creative filters, post and tag photos and follow other photographers.  It has a much smaller usage than Instagram (for now) but I think it is a much more photographer friendly app for several reasons.     

EyeEm’s terms of service is much more ‘cut and dry’ than Instagram’s and there is no question about who owns what or what could happen to images once uploaded.

EyeEm gives a photographer the option of selling photos.  This service is called ‘Market’.  By joining Market, a photographer can sell their images while maintaining ownership of the copyright.  The photographer splits the profits 50/50 with EyeEm once an image is sold.  Market also offers support with liscenses and is non-exclusive.  I have not joined Market and have no experience with it so naturally I can’t comment further.  But I find the idea appealing.  As a photographer, I would rather have the option of selling my photos outright, then having them used without my consent or knowledge.

EyeEm offers challenges, called Missions.  These Missions range from everything to submitting your best macro photo to submitting your best street photo.  Winners are awarded anything between EyeEm swag to having their image featured in The Huffington Press or other publications, or being featured prominently on EyeEm.

EyeEm offers tutorials.  These tutorials range from how to shoot in low light situations to how to capture better portraits.  EyeEm also often interviews successful photographers about their technique, gear and best practices.  As a photographer, I’ve found the best way to learn the art of photography is to see what other photographers are doing and hear about their successes and failures.

Social media is about being seen and is a great marketing tool.  But it’s important to be comfortable with your social media platforms, especially when you post photos.   What appeals to me with EyeEm is the dedication they have to photographers.  They want you to learn, not just to be seen.  They challenge you yet support you.  It is this dedication that makes EyeEm, in my opinion, the best photo sharing app.

If you are interested in joining EyeEm or are already on it, be sure to follow me at k3schultz

Beware of Fauxtographers


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Every profession, from photography to biology, has a group of individuals who know best about all subjects and circumstances.  These people are the quickest to offer criticism to your project under the guise of mentoring, if you ask for help or honest feed back.  They gleefully find any fault in your project and loudly denouce your decisions, yet rarely praise you.  They are poison and should be avoided or better yet ignored.  In the photography field, I call them fauxtographers.

Fauxtographers live comfortably in social media because social media makes it very easy to criticize another person as there is no face-to-face interaction.  Fauxtographers are often insecure about their own abilities and think the best way to build themselves up is to tear someone else down.  When confronted, they become indignant because, after all, they were only offering their opinion.  They often have the loudest voices and sometimes have minions who are quick to support them.

Concert fauxtographers think everything should fit inside a preconceived box labeled What-makes-a-great-concert-photo.   They’ve invented catchphrases like ‘mic mouth’, ‘eye hand’ and cry foul when a guitar head (or another other instrument) is cropped from a photo.  They love high contrast/high clarity images, bright colors and pinsharp photos.  They want every image to be the same.  Any images that falls outside these parameters are considered bad.  Unfortunately, the final images they love are predicable, boring and forgettable.  

Photography, concert or otherwise, is about capturing a moment.  Photographers should capture moments then refine the moment through the editing process.  Some moments are discarded but the ones that are chosen should be treasured because it is a reflection of both the photographer and the person in the image.  The more images you capture, the easier it becomes to find your own style of refinement.

As I’ve said before, concert photography is a tricky gig.   It’s a game between me, the other photographers in the pit, the lighting guy, the musicians, the fans, the security, and the equipment on the stage.  Split second decisions are made often in less than ideal circumstances.  It’s exhilarating, intimidating, at times frustrating, but extremely rewarding.  What I capture can be (and should be) different from what the guy next to me captures.  That’s what makes photography so exciting!  Every photographer has a unique point of view and that uniqueness should be celebrated!

As a professional concert photographer, I often cringe when other photographers ask for creative criticism on social media.  I cringe, not because people are asking for feedback, because everyone needs feedback, but because the person asking is the wrong way.  More often than not, a photographer will post a photo or a series of photos and ask for feedback.  That’s when fauxtographers pounce and then try to destroy.

It would be beneficial if photographers seeking feedback would provide details about the shoot.  What was the venue?  Was there a pit? Were you allowed to move within the pit or was it so small or crowded that movement within was impossible?  How was the lighting? Was the singer stationary or running constantly around or somewhere in the middle?  What was the audience like?  Where they pushing and prodding against the pit (if there was one) or was there appropriate space between you and them? What camera settings were you using?  How did security treat you?  How many songs were you allowed to shoot? 

Some of these questions might not seem appropriate at first glance but without having an idea of the environment in which the images were captured, it’s difficult to provide an answer.  Knowing the circumstances of the images can quantify constructive criticism.    Another strategy for constructive feedback or advice is to only seek it from other photographers who are familiar with the band, tour or venue.  They know the habits of the band or the best vantage points of the venue.  Before I shot the Foo Fighters I asked some photographers who shot them before what the best vantage point would be – stage right or stage left.  I received the answer and was able to get some great shots.

Getting feedback is part of learning and improving your skill set.  But it should be taken with the grain of salt, especially on social media.  There are no absolutes in photography except there will absolutely always be fauxtographers who want nothing more than to tear you down.  Don’t let them.  Create your own style and run with it.  You are meant to be unique and unforgettable. 


Always In My Heart



Always in my Heart

Last week was a difficult week for me.  There was too much news of deaths of icons and celebrities.  David Bowie’s death surprised me, like many people were.  Alan Rickman’s death broke my heart.  Then there was news of Celine Dion’s husband dying followed by news of her brother dying and then Glenn Frey died.  Not a good week.

I was talking with a co-worker about Alan Rickman and when he realized how upset I was, he asked me why I was so attached to celebrities.  I was surprised because I don’t consider myself ‘attached to celebrities’, but Alan Rickman was genuinely one of my favorite actors and I feel like he was gone too soon.  I tried to explain that actors are naturally fascinating because they bring life to so many characters and as a viewer, it’s always exciting to see an actor’s interpretation of a character.  My co-worker didn’t get it.

To many young people, Alan Rickman will always be known as the character Snape from the Harry Potter movies.  But he was so much more than that.  He turned Hans Gruber a formidable opponent for Bruce Willis in Die Hard.  As the sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, he tried to cancel Christmas.  In Galaxy Quest he was a hilarious has-been cultural icon trying to remain relevant while battling space aliens, for Pete’s sake.  There are hundreds more roles that Mr Rickman brought to life, but my favorite of his will always be that of the recently deceased cellist in Truly, Madly, Deeply.

David Bowie was a cultural icon, of course, but in Kelly Land he was an enigma.  Sure, I knew *of* him, mainly from the 1980s, but I didn’t own any of his albums and had not seen any of his movies.  To me, he was simply a guy that sang a song with Bing Crosby, sang another song with Mick Jagger and was married to Iman.  And he had to change his name from Jones to Bowie.  And he was Ziggy Stardust in the 70s.  That’s it. 

But I knew enough about him to know that he was an icon, even though I didn’t fully appreciate his status.  And when an icon dies, there is always a void.  It is unlikely that the world will ever seen another talent like David Bowie.  I’m just sorry I didn’t realize how many gifts he bestowed us and how culturally significant he was until he died.

In 2010, we visited Toronto and I explored an old cemetery because cemeteries are cool.  I took several photographs of old headstones and trees, but the image above really stuck with me.  The marker was contemporary but several decades old.  A beautiful rose was gently laid on it and I was reminded that love never dies.  I named the photo ‘Always in my heart.’  Tonight I dedicate the photo to the memory of Mr Rickman and Mr Bowie.  Though gone too soon, they will always remain in my heart.

Keep On Shooting


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As a photographer, I like to follow the field online to keep current on the newest techniques, gear and to see what other photographers are doing.  It’s very interesting for me to see what advice other people have, particulary about showing your work.

A common theme I’ve seen from others is to label the type of photographer you are and focus on that area.  If you typically shoot landscapes, just focus on show casing your landscape photography.  If you like shooting concerts, only show your concert photos.  If you like photographing animals, only present your animal photos.

I understand the idea ~show only what you want to be known for.  That way, perspective clients and buyers have a snapshot of who you are as a photographer, and what you can bring them, as a buyer.  But I think this approach can be myopic and limiting.

I am known as a concert photographer, and 90 percent of my work is from covering music.  I love it, but I don’t pigeonhole myself or my art by only focusing solely on concert photography.  Some of my favorite and best received photos have been landscapes and portraits.   As a photographer, I want to constantly challenge myself and try new approaches to the medium I love so much.  I don’t want to get into an artistic rut by only focusing on one type of photography, even though it is a type I thoroughly enjoy.  Yes, it’s important to master your primary area of photography, but it’s just as important to go outside your comfort zone and try something new.

Another piece of advice that is hotly debated online is whether or not to participate in a photo a day project.    Detractors say it’s too easy to get bogged down and post lousy images out of obligation.  Your reputation as a photographer will suffer if you stray from your primary focus, they say.  Better to stick with what you know and don’t bother.  However, proponents argue participating in a photo a day project can help you shoot outside your comfort zone and encourage you to constantly think as a photographer.  I’m a big fan of photo of the day projects.

I started a photo of the day project back in 2013 and called it 365 Days of Awesomeness.  I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could go a whole year taking a photo every day.  It turned out that I couldn’t.  My 365 Days of Awesomeness tinkered out in the Fall of 2013, mainly because we were moving and I was without my camera for some time.  But I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of it and relaunched the project in 2015.

I’ll be honest – it is at times difficult for me to post a photo every day, especially on the days when I have a gig right after work.  Last year, I completed the year, but there are several Throw Back Thursday photos and I’ve been known to post almost a weeks worth of photos at one time.  But that’s OK because I’m constantly photographing something and my project has evolved into a visual social diary.  Yeah, some of the photos may not be technically good but they give the audience an idea of who I am.  As a photographer, I want people to not only know my work but also know a little bit about me.  In honor of the Leap Year, this year’s project is called 365+1 Days of Awesomeness and of this writing, I’m behind three days.

If you are interested in photography and are just starting out, throw yourself into it.  Try macro, try landscapes, try portraits.  It is through trial and error that we discover what we excel at. But, when you discover it, don’t limit yourself.  Hone your skills but get out of your comfort zone by trying something new or different.  Participating in a photo a day project is a personal decision but don’t flat out reject it because you are afraid of either not finishing it or damaging your reputation by not devoting 100% of your time to your chosen photography style. The secret to success in photography is having  a love of photography in all its vast interpretations and genres.  And to keep on shooting.

If you are interested in my 365 Days of Awesomeness project, you can check it out on Tumblr here

Resolutions and Over Exertion


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I’ve never been one for making resolutions.  Maybe it’s because my birthday falls on January 1st and it seems contrary to resolve to not eat as many sweets when you have a birthday cake to look forward to.  Maybe it’s because I know myself too well.  I ‘like’ the idea of resolutions, but not the follow through.  Maybe it’s because giving up something for 40 days of Lent is hard enough and the thought of giving something up for a whole year is too much to bear.  But the reality is that I have no will power, nor do I want to over exert myself by resolving to do additional physical exercises to train to run a marathon.

This New Year some things are going to change for me.  We recently moved to a home that is closer to my work so I decided to start walking instead of driving.  I did some calculations and a round trip is three miles.  Though walking 15 miles a week is the plan, I’ll be happy walking 12 miles a week.  I don’t mind walking in the cold or in the rain but if the rain is going sideways I’m driving!  Any other walking will be bonus.  I’ve been walking since December and really enjoy the quietness of my new commute.  We are also planning to practice Yoga.  Charlie has a bum hip and we thought Yoga or Pilates would help.  I will definitely keep you posted on that!

Concerning my photography, I definitely am itching to get back into the game.  Last quarter I didn’t shoot as much as I wanted and that will change.  I’m also continuing my 365 Days of Awesomeness Photography Project on Tumblr and will try to be better on social media and write more frequently, with more posts on photography. 

So I have big plans for 2016 but am not resolving to do anything.  I have great hope for this year but know that Life can always throw curve balls.  However, I am strong enough to endure and have enough resolve to not give up when things get tricky.

May 2016 be filled with grand adventures, good health and happiness for everyone.

401 Days

This past quarter has been the roughest in my life, and I’ve been thinking a lot about if I want to disclose what’s been going on in my head and personal life in such a public way.  A year ago, I started this blog with the intent on sharing photography tips, product reviews, and adventures.  I wanted it to focus on my life as a photographer primarily, with antedotes of my personal life sprinkled in.  I wanted to inspire people and remind them that it is never too late to follow your dreams, that finding your own path in Life may be hard, but it can be worth it.  So in the end, I thought if I shared my story, perhaps I could, in some small way, help someone else who may be going through similar tough times, too.

I’ve thought about Death a lot this past quarter.  Death of Dreams, Death of Friendships, Death of What Was.  Death is all around us; we see it daily, whether it be a physical death or a metaphysical one.  I have experienced too much Death over the months.  I’m tired of mourning. 

I’ve thought a lot about Suicide this past quarter, too.  The morality of suicide, the stigma of suicide and the reasons people may commit suicide.  I don’t equate suicide as a selfish act or a sign of weakness. To me, it isn’t even a cause of death.  People don’t die from Suicide.  They die from Loneliness. Emptiness. Sadness. People who commit suicide may just want to not feel anything anymore.  Maybe because they feel too much. They may just want to not disappoint others anymore.  Maybe because they’ve seen so much disappointment.  They may just want to find peace, because they’re convinced it doesn’t exist on this Earth.  I get it.  I don’t condone suicide but I understand its appeal.  I’ve seen the Darkness and managed to turn away from it.  I want to help others turn away from it, too.  I want to be Enough for someone so they don’t feel like I’ve felt this past quarter.  I want to have Enough patience, Enough understanding, Enough time, and especially Enough Love for someone who may be in a difficult situation.  Because this quarter I felt like I wasn’t Enough.  And no one should ever feel that way.

I’ve thought about Life a lot this past quarter, too.  What is Life? What is Worth?  What is Life worth if it wears you down so completely that the only thing you want is to not break down the moment someone shows you kindness, or asks you how you’ve been. Life is cyclical.   It has Ebbs and Flows.  Joys and Disappointments.   Sickness and Health.  Want and Plenty.  It isn’t fair. But it goes on.  And somehow, we must find a way to go on, too, even when the odds seem so set against us.

I know what you are thinking.  ‘This is a piece about depression.  Kelly is depressed and  uses too many conjunctions to start her sentences.’  Ha!  Keep reading.  This isn’t about depression.

These last few months I’ve gone into hiding.  I hid from friends and family, from photography and even from myself.  I have decades worth of practice of smiling through pain and convincing others that everything is fine.  I even have a photography project called 365 Days of Awesomeness to convince the world and myself that all was well.  But it wasn’t.  For 401 days I experienced an unimaginable Hell that seemed unending. Sure, there were a few good spots mixed in, in an attempt to have some sort of balance, but the last 90 days or so were almost unbearable.  Those were the days when I finally understood that people’s compassion has a time limit.  That it is easier to lie to someone than it is to admit to them that your life is still Shit because you know they no longer care, even if you are still fighting like hell to improve your circumstances.  Thanksgiving Day 2015 is not a fond memory.

But one day, Life was better.  I wish I could tell you the exact day or even circumstance when I realized this but I can’t.  I just knew that my life wasn’t As Shitty and I took that realization to mean that things were turning around.  The tide had started to flow and I was thankful.   

This isn’t a piece on depression or even about tough times.  This is about redemption.  Those 401 days changed me.  I’m not as trusting of others as before and hopefully not as naive.  I’ve seen great pain and sadness and may have even caused some, but I now know the true value of kindness and joy.  I survived on little and now feel compelled to give much.  I lived in Darkness and now yearn to be Light.  I’ve found myself again.  There is much work that still needs to be done. But the benefit of hitting rock bottom is that you have a firm foundation on which to build upon.

A few days ago, I came across this verse:  ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit‘ (Psalm 34:18).  I was surely brokenhearted and crushed but I had forgotten that I wasn’t alone.  The name Kelly means ‘Warrior Woman’ and I will take that meaning to heart.  I will keep fighting and when I’m knocked down again, I’ll get right back up.

Life is hard.  It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself and your situation.  It’s OK to think about Death.  It’s even OK to think people are assholes because they don’t understand what you’re going through.  But it’s never OK to give up.  2015 was anything but awesome and those 401 Days almost killed me.  But on the eve of 2016 I see Promise and after everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve been through, that’s damn impressive.

Here’s to Redemption and Promise.  Happy New Year.

How It All Began


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Trumpeter Christian Scott performs with Marcus Miller in Niagara Falls, NY 2010

Trumpeter Christian Scott performs with Marcus Miller in Niagara Falls, NY 2010. My first concert image.

A friend of mine, whom I worked with back in the early 2000s and kept in touch with via Facebook, recently asked me how I made the transition from Front Desk Manager at a Day Spa to Concert Photographer.  Here is my story.

I’ve been taking photographs since I was 18 years old.  Photography was a hobby for me but not something that I actively pursued.  In 2007, on a whim, I purchased a Polaroid point and shoot digital camera and everything changed.  I was amazed that I could capture more that 36 images at a time and could view the images instantly.  We headed to Atlanta for our anniversary where I rediscovered my love for photography.  Digital photography was cool, but in my mind, serious photographers used film.  I kept my Polaroid in my purse but still used the Minolta for serious photography.  However, as time marched on, I realized that film photography was becoming more difficult simply due to finding film finding a place to develop it.  I felt I had to upgrade to digital to continue my passion for photography.

My husband and I put the word out that I was looking for a DSLR and wanted some suggestions.  The results were amazing to me.  It seemed that hobby photographers perferred Canon while professional photographers preferred Nikons.  Being a practical person, I decided that if I was going to spend my hard earned money on a new camera then I would go with the professional photographers’ recommendation, even though I had no delusions of being a professional myself.  So in 2010 I picked up a Nikon D3000 with an 18-55mm lens.

Again, everything changed for me.  I discovered I loved taking landscape photos, especially of trees, cemeteries and buildings.  I was happy as a clam with my new camera and happy taking photos of stationary objects and landscapes.

In 2010, jazz musician Marcus Miller was coming to Niagara Falls for a concert.  My husband, who apparently knows everyone and isn’t afraid to ask for favors, asked his manager if we could attend.  (My husband hosted Marcus Miller at a instore meet and greet event at Barnes and Noble the year before and held onto Marcus’s manager’s contact info).  The manager put us on the guest list.  My husband then asked if I could take photos of the concert.  The manager agreed on the condition that I share the images with them.  That night, my husband told me we were going to see Marcus Miller and oh by the way, you’re going to take photos of the concert.

Excuse me?  What did you say?  I’m doing what?!  I was shocked.  I had never even seen Marcus Miller perform let alone know anything about shooting the concert.  I was a mass of nerves.  How was I supposed to get shots? Was I allowed to move from my seat or just stay there? What would the other concert-goers think?

At the concert, I played it cool.  Before we got to the venue, I made sure my shutter was on quiet mode, but was nervous about the illuminator light going on during the performance.  When we got to the show, I walked to the soundboard guy for a piece of tape and just stuck gaffers tape over the light.  My camera bag at the time looked like a purse so when the lights were dimmed and the show started, I calmly pulled out my Nikon and took a few shots from my seat.  Nobody even noticed.  I made a few adjustments and then cautiously moved to the aisle and sat on a step and took some more shots.  Again, no one cared.  As my confidence grew, I became more bold.  I waited until a song was finished and quickly moved to another vantage point.  If someone was startled at my sudden appearance, they saw my camera and let me do my thing.  It was amazing and I was actually enjoying myself.

When the concert was over I was relieved.  I hadn’t been escorted out by security, hadn’t disrupted the concert and to my knowledge, hadn’t annoyed anyone.  As agreed, I sent my photos to his manager and went back to photographing landscapes.  The concert was a one time thing –  or so I thought.

Six months later, Marcus was back in town, this time with David Sanborn and George Duke.  Chuck got a call asking if we would like to attend and if I could photograph it with the same terms as before.  We both jumped at the opportunity but again I was nervous.  Unlike the first concert which was in a smaller venue, they were going to be performing at the symphony hall.  I was nervous but up for the challenge.  Before the concert started I reconned the hall looking for the best vantage points.  I chatted up concert goers by introducing myself and telling them that I might suddenly appear in the aisle next to them during the concert.  I sought out security and ushers and introduced myself to them as well.  When the concert started I went into Ninja mode and did my thing.  Unbeknownst to me, I was being watched.

The local paper was there, too.  I don’t think they sent a photographer but they sent their music critic.  He was watching me throughout the concert and later commented to my husband (who knows everyone, remember) that I was the ‘most polite concert photographer’ he had ever seen.  I think I was more proud of the ‘polite’ title than the ‘concert photograpehr’ title!

The photos were delivered and again, I thought that was that.  Two months later, though, we got a call from the tour.  Would Kelly be interested in flying out to San Diego to cover the concert again?  Travel and expenses would be taken care of.

And so it began.  I started photographing jazz concerts more than I was photographing trees.  I had earned respect from the music industry and became known in the jazz community.  I later added country music to my repertoire and was called a ‘bad ass photographer’ by none other than Eric Church, who knows a thing about being a bad ass.  My images have been in Country Weekly, All About Jazz, Pollstar and countless other publications.  I have traveled internationally to cover concerts and have the respect from artists, venues, publicists, and fellow photographers.  Yes, I’m kind of a big deal.

I never sought to be a concert photographer, it just happened.  But I’m glad it did.

The Think Tank Trio


Think Tank Trio

Like any other photographer, gear is important to me.  It’s more than camera bodies and lenses, straps and earplugs.  Those things are important, but just as important is how you carry your gear.  For that, I turned to Think Tank.

I prefer backpacks to messenger bags because I like to feel ‘balanced’.  My go-to backpack is the Think Tank Streetwalker backpack (right photo).  It’s big enough to hold my cameras with the lens attached, so I can just grab and go.  It isn’t bulky and doesn’t scream ‘camera bag’.  Inside my back pack I keep the usual suspects of extra SD cards, pens, business cards, extra charged batteries, my lanyard, sunscreen, a pack of playing cards (because there is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ with concert photography), a knee brace, a bandana or hat, and my Japanese sun-protection sleeves.  All Think Tank bags come with a rain cover, too, with is a nice bonus.

This Spring, I picked up the Think Tank Streetwalker Hardrive (left photo).  This bag has a lot more storage, though is bulkier.  However, it is still small enough to fit in a carry on bin.  It’s big enough to carry everthing my smaller backpack carries while having room for extra lenses and even clothes.  It also has a slot that can easily hold a laptop.  This bag is perfect for trips.  I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to pick it up.

Finally, I picked up the Think Tank Photo TurnStyle Sling camera bag (center photo) specifically for CMA Fest. When I was in Detroit for the Taylor Swift concert, I noticed my friend, Scott, had a similar bag around his waist.  He had papers and ‘guy junk’ in it and I was intrigued.  I asked him about it and he highly recommended it.  I picked up the Think Tank version and have been extremely happy with it.  I like that I can wear it around my waist or sling it over my shoulder.  It isn’t big enough to hold an extra lens (at least for me), but is great for when I need extra pockets, especially during CMA Fest.  Because it was so hot, I didn’t want to carry a backpack, but needed something to hold gear.  I wore my Op-tech strap and the bag around my waist.  Inside the bag I had my Coolpix camera for quick candid crowd shots, plus a poncho, sunscreen, deodorant, cooling wipes, my cell phone and my lens caps.  It was the perfect arrangement because I had everything I needed without feeling bogged down.

Camera bags come in all shape and sizes.  It’s important to pick one (or two, or three) that will fit your needs and still protect your gear.  Think Tank is the perfect system for me and I highly recommend them.