Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Michele Manco. Let's learn more about the production of her photos.
What is it about concert photography that speaks to you?
I really only tend to shoot bands I love, or at least know that their live performance is going to be fun. Shows draw me in because they’ve been an important part of my life for about 20 years. I started going to local punk shows in central Florida when I was 13, and as you can see, I never stopped. Alt & punk cultures have generally always appealed to me.
As you’d expect I was an aimless and weird kid and the scene’s sense of community and political leanings appealed to my perception of the world. It’s in large part why I chose the career field I did—I’m a social worker and PhD student by day. Punk and hardcore always fostered a sense of creativity in me stemming from the DIY ethos. It’s likely why it has stuck with me so long.
What gear do you currently use?
I recently acquired my first big-girl camera so I’ve been shooting on the Canon 5D Mark IV. This beast took a bit of a learning curve for me, as I came from shooting on a Canon T2i for the 6 or so years prior. Either way, I am just really fortunate to get to use this incredible piece of technology. In terms of lenses I currently have a Canon 50mm, Canon 70-300mm, and my two all-time favorites; a Canon 24-105mm and a Sigma 10-20mm. I have a couple little gadgets—mainly a Yongnuo YN600EX-RT flash, but let’s just say flash isn’t really my area of expertise.
In terms of post-production, I’m a Lightroom girl for life as of about a year ago. My husband (an artist by trade) and I were both operating on Photoshop CS3 on a 2006 iMac. You could say my household recently caught up to technology. Since I haven’t shot film since I was a teenager and I don’t do any serious editing, Lightroom is the ideal simple but flexible, portable editing system for the types of photos I like to create. Less is more is my aim, and I’m currently working to minimize how much I edit much further.
How long have you been taking photos? Are there other genres you enjoy shooting?
When I was 15, I got my first little throw away digital point-and-shoot. By 16, I had acquired my first SLR—it was a Minolta, I think a 2Xi. Naturally I dabbled in taking photos of my friend’s bands for fun, although I never did much with them. Ironically, I just found them in an old album today, which was really exciting. More so, it was really fascinating to see what ways my style has or hasn’t changed over nearly 20 years.
How would you describe your photographic style?
I think it would be fair to call my style as a street/documentarian/candid genre. I like shooting wide. It gives me the opportunity to frame a shot dramatically close or conversely far, I’ve never been a fan of middle grounds. I honestly just shoot things that make me feel a certain way. A few assurances I can provide—you will often find animals as my subjects and I don’t abuse my clarity tool.
What advice or tips would you give to other photographers regarding finding their style?
Hate to be that guy, but honestly—age. I feel like the more I get to know myself, the more I get to know my art. More importantly, the more comfortable I’ve become with that, the more my art has become something for myself as opposed to comparing it to others. My best advice is, get to know your gear and don’t follow trends. My T2i diligently carried me for way longer than it should’ve. Also—focus. I only started to get decent at certain subjects when I started focusing my interests more narrowly.
What gear are you hoping to add to your collection?
I would really love to upgrade some lenses as well as add a little point-and-shoot for carrying around. I thought my T2i was huge at the time, but looking back, that thing was so compact compared to the 5D. But can I talk about how hard it is to find a snazzy looking day pack that are vegan friendly? Sheesh.
Thanks to Michele for allowing us to share these photos. Check out more of her work on her Instagram account.