Steve, thanks for speaking with us today about your experiences as a professional concert photographer as well as the What I Be Project!
Thanks for having me Greg!
Q1: When did you first start taking an interest in photography? At what point did you decide it was what you wanted to do in life?
Well, it all happened rather unexpectedly. I was over in Europe rock climbing in 2005 with some friends when my good friend Boz got me hooked. He’s an amazing photographer and it was him who inspired me to go out and buy my first Canon DSLR when I got back from Europe. I didn’t know it was something I wanted to do until I started doing it pretty steadily for Michael Franti and Spearhead in mid-2008.
Q2: You share a great friendship with the incredibly talented, Trevor Hall. When did you two cross paths and how did you become such good friends?
I met Trev at a show I was shooting for Michael Franti and Spearhead. It was at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA in September of 2009. It’s kind of a funny story. I was in the bathroom during Trev’s sound check and heard him singing Jago Ma, which I didn’t know at the time and I was blown away. I chatted with him after the show and we just meshed well. We hung out a few times and the rest is history. I also do maintenance on his dreadlocks when they’re all cracked out, lol. He’s been a great friend and has helped my photography and videography tremendously, by always believing in my work and giving me a chance when there are more qualified photo/videographers out there.
Q3: This past summer, you photographed the entire Dispatch weekend at Red Rocks in Colorado. What was that experience like? What did you take away from those shows?
I love Red Rocks. It’s by far my favorite venue to shoot at. It was such an honor to be able to photograph Dispatch for their reunion tour. The fans are some of the best fans to be in the presence of. I’m from Boston so I kinda vibed to Dispatch back in the High School days. I’ve photographed Chad’s other group State Radio and have shot quite a bit for his non-profit Calling All Crows, so I built a report with the whole gang. Everyone in the State Radio, Calling All Crows, and Dispatch camps are just awesome people. They always exude love and it’s contagious. I walked away from each of their shows feeling like there is hope.
Q4: You’ve photographed Michael Franti, State Radio, The Dirty Heads, Amos Lee, Guster, Mat McHugh (The Beautiful Girls), Xavier Rudd, Trevor Hall, and many more incredibly talent artists. What were some of your highlights from the shows you’ve been able to photograph?
Oh geeeez, this might take a while haha.
One of my best moments is when Trevor Hall played at Red Rocks. Seeing his face and being able to photograph such a magical moment for him while his family was there made me feel pretty honored to be a part of it. I could honestly go on about each show I have been a part of, but that would take forever. Michael Franti and Spearhead, John Butler, Kelley James, Mat McHugh, Guster, Xavier Rudd, Trevor Green, Martin Purtill, Blue King Brown, Naia Kete, Lee Madeloni, Slightly Stoopid, Brett Dennen, Matisyahu, Arden Park Roots, India Arie, Cherine Anderson, Andrew Heringer and Mariana Sheetz, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Norah Jones, Blue Scholars, Atmosphere, Wu Tang, Macklemore, Rootz Underground, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Immortal Technique, Micah Brown, Elan Atias, Anuhea, Jaden, Aesop Rock, John West, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Dustin Thomas, The Ton Tons, Chris Velan, Mike Posner, SOJA, Pepper, Dirty Heads, Amos Lee, Matthew Santos, Goapele, Flobots, JJ Grey and Mofro, Ratfynkt, Among Criminals, Solliloquists of Sound, Dispatch, State Radio, HoneyHoney, Good Ol War, Sean Hayes, Citizen Cope and anyone else I missed have given me highlights. I love them all and hope I can keep photographing for them. =) Sorry that was a HUGE rant lol.
Q5: What do you love most about taking photos at a live show?
I love being able to capture emotions of the performers and crowd. There is so much passion floating around a venue and I love being able to take that home and hopefully bring that emotion to fans who couldn’t make it.
Q6: When you take a picture, what are you personally trying to capture as an artist?
I’m trying to capture emotions, personality, and feelings in my photos. I want someone to look at one of my photos and say that is totally that person in the photo. I want the photo to speak to the viewer. I want them to feel that the person is sitting right on their lap.
Q7: What does a photo mean to you?
Each photo means something different to me, but if I had to lump them all into one, I would say a photo means the world to me. It’s the one thing that really helps you remember that special moment.
Q8: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a professional concert photographer?
Get out there and shoot a bunch of free shows at local venues. Build up a website and present it to artist’s managers letting them know you want to shoot the shows. Be prepared to shoot for free lol.
Q9: What kind of camera do you prefer to shoot with?
I like my Canon DSLR.
Q10: When did you first get the idea behind the What I Be Project and can you explain what it is all about? [Check out the What I Be Project online at http://www.whatibeproject.com].
This is a long question, but I’ll make it short and sweet. I got the idea around 2009, but didn’t start the process until late 2010. The project is about creating securities through insecurities. The subject comes forward and shares an insecurity that has had some type of control on their way of being and they want to rid it and show that because they have this “issue” doesn’t mean they are “flawed”, their insecurity doesn’t define them, it’s just a small part of who they are.
Q11: How did you go about getting people involved with the project at first?
I went ahead and asked the first 10-15 people or so and it just took off after that.
Q12: How has the What I Be Project affected you since it started?
This is tough. I’ve become more aware of how I’m acting and treating other people. It’s shown me that no matter what I think a person is going through, I truly have NO IDEA. I’ve learned that people are so much stronger than I ever could imagine. It’s inspired me to be a better person. That’s the best I can come up with for something that words can’t describe.
Q13: The What I Be Project was recently featured nationwide in Origin Magazine back in July. Congratulations! How did they find out about the What I Be Project and everything you were doing?
Thank you so much. I’ve been so lucky to be a new member of the Origin family. The magazine is so amazing and to have What I Be featured in there is something I never could have imagined. They found out pretty much through Facebook. A woman by the name of Tricia found out about it and forwarded it on to the mag. Miranda loved it and bam. I owe it all to them. =)
Q14: You recently began incorporating many musicians in the What I Be Project. How has that influenced other people in getting involved and also realizing that, famous or not, we all have our insecurities and that no one is perfect?
Well it’s done just that. I’m trying to bridge the gap between “celebrities” and us “normal” people. I want to show that no matter where you are in life, we all struggle from our stuff. It’s been great and to see musicians that I work with a lot, step up and want to take part in something so open and vulnerable just goes to show their character.
Q15: If you were to feature yourself in the project, what would be your insecurity?
Oh, I’ll definitely be featured in the project. You’ll have to keep an eye out. =)
Steve, this project has affected me personally, as it has, with thousands of other people. It was the first time I ever saw the faces of people from all over the world showing the truth behind their outer shell. Finally, people are able to open up about their issues and insecurities in an incredible setting of others willing to listen and help each other through their personal battles. You are an amazing photographer and what you’re doing is absolutely incredible Steve! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to do what you do!
Thanks again Greg! That really means a lot to me. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you and I look forward to linking up one of these days.
Check out more of Steve’s photography through Steve Rosenfield Photography on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SteveRosenfieldPhotography