Interview with Concert Photographer Nesha Torres
Location: San Diego, CA
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Flickr
When did you get your start in concert photography?
I started concert photography my senior year in high school (2010). For my AP Photo class I needed to pick a “concentration” and because I love music and shows so much it was the perfect match. It also helps that a majority of my friends are in bands and I can get into shows easily.
How did you become involved in concert photography? Why did you want to become a concert photographer?
I became involved in concert photography once I got my professional camera. Friends in local bands would ask me to come out and get some rad shots of their band to help promote them. I do A LOT of promoting for bands all over. I work with this company called Kiss The Concrete Productions out here in San Diego, and we promote not only local bands, but bands all over the country.
What did you expect when you started? Is it any different or much harder than you thought?
When I first started, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be though. There’s a lot to take into consideration. I’m sure most people think you just take the picture and go when in reality that’s not the case. Yes, you’re ultimately just capturing a still, but there’s other factors that need to be adjusted; your focus, your ISO, your shutter, composition, etc. You’ve got to make your photo standout from other people’s photos because there’s several people in the pit trying to get the same great shot.
For you, what does photographing a single concert (or whole tour) entail?
I wanted to continue concert photography because I love everything it entails. What better way to do two things that you’re passionate at the same time! I love the atmosphere. The line out front that I don’t have to ever wait in because I have a wristband or laminate. The sound of the band doing their sound check. Backstage preps. Load in/outs. Late night meals at In N Out, or Taco Bell. Being surrounded by people who share the same passion in this art that I do. By being in the back, or “a part” of the band I get to see what the kids in front of the barricade don’t get to see. I know when they mess up, I know when it’s time for improv, I know when someone’s in the back tuning guitars. It’s seriously an array of stuff. I’m very grateful.
What is the most difficult task/thing you have had to do?
The most difficult task I’ve had to do is learn patience, and how to deal with others trying to produce the same thing as me. There’s been times when I’m in the pit, and because the pit is so full, and the band is so rowdy security needs the pit to be pretty close to empty to handle the crowd surfers coming in. Therefore, security only will allow the photographers to shoot one song and in that scenario I’m only focused on one thing. Coming out of the pit with at least one good shot. This is exactly what happened when I tried shooting Paramore at San Diego Warped Tour. The pit was maxed out! And we were only going to be able to shoot one song. I literally couldn’t move because it was that packed. So that resulted to me lifting my arm in the air and shooting like that so I didn’t have other hands or cameras in my shot. I basically only had 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get a good picture. It’s annoying, but it happens. Especially with popular bands. Another thing I’ve had to learn is to not compare myself to the other photographers in the pit. I would sometimes look at their equipment, and then my own and see the difference. It’s pretty big. What I’ve learned though is it doesn’t matter if you have a Canon Rebel or a Nikon D7000. If you have that artistic eye, you’ll get a good shot. Everyone starts somewhere. The equipment doesn’t make the artist, the creativity does.
What has been the best experience so far?
For me, photographing a concert/tour is the best experience ever. Of course my ultimate goal is to capture that gnarly shot that’s going to seen by a lot of people, so I push for that. When my three songs are over, and I need to leave the pit I’m left to either get shots of the crowd and the interaction between the artist and its fans, or I standby and enjoy the live music because I’ll never forget being that kid who just came for the show. That’s just for one concert. If I’m shooting a tour where I’m traveling for days or weeks I’m making sure I’m prepared for anything that gets thrown at me. Never forget your cables to charge your laptop and camera. The best experience I’ve had is being able to tour Warped Tour for a little bit. I got some really great shots out of that which help build my portfolio. It’s gotten my name out there as well which I really am happy about. I got to network with a ton of awesome bands and people as well as travel and experience what touring is all about. I was looking forward to that all summer, I literally put everything aside for it and quit my job. In the end, the experience was worth it and I’m glad I did what I did.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is don’t worry about what you don’t have, worry about what you do have and embrace where you’re at.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself graduated from college (hopefully), living in LA and working for a production company making music videos, films, etc.
Do you plan on staying in this profession?
Yes, I plan to stay in this profession but because photography is so competitive I want to also study production so that I can work with a company that does videos, shoots, and interviews for bands. Photography will always be my number one though.
Do you have any advice for those who want to break into this business?
My advice for people who want to get into this crazy business is, don’t be afraid to talk to people. Networking is crucial in this business, it’s all about who you know. Also, when you’re shooting think about how your images will differ from others. Try to standout somehow, whether it be the way you edit, or the way you shoot. Create a style for yourself. No one is going to remember you if you don’t speak up!