Discover some legendary international photographers that immortalized unique musical events
Without television and other media platforms, pop, rock, and rap music would hardly have survived. Music created since the second half of the 20th century is essentially visual: it relies on the artist’s exploited image to reach the rest of the world. For this reason, it is easy to understand the importance of the work of concert photographers. These professionals help turn artists into legends through their incredible photos and consecrate them in popular culture history books.
Aside from dealing with their musician subjects’ various personalities, concert photographers must also consider many other variables. “ The act of photographing a show requires mastering different equipment, knowledge of photometry, etc. Generally, you’ll have to deal with a great variety of lighting situations and a lot of movement on stage. What you need to ensure good and consistent results in this type of photography is practice: trial and error are what makes us. Trust me: if you can handle this part of the job, you’ll have a great time,” says Bruna Prado, one of the most renowned concert photographers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We’ve put together a list of eight fantastic concert photographers—current and historical—, and some of their incredible work, a visual record of some of the best music produced over the last few decades.
Starting our list is Woodstock's official photographer. Born in the US in 1936 (he died in 2010), Jim Marshall’s lens immortalized the muddy apotheosis of peace, love, and excesses that was the most legendary (if not the first) of all big music festivals.
A feature published by Rolling Stone magazine claims that his portraits of musical legends Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan, among many others, "helped define the protagonists of rock, and rock photography itself."
The British answer to Jim Marshall, Halfin has been witnessing key moments of British rock history since 1970 and has helped document and shape the punk aesthetics by immortalizing classic concerts by The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, and Soundgarden.
Born in 1957, he studied painting and fine arts at London’s Wimbledon School of Arts, which explains his photographic work’s aesthetic. He is still active.
He was mentored by Annie Leibovitz, author of the most famous Rolling Stone magazine cover of all times—a naked John Lennon cuddled up to a fully-clad Yoko Ono. (Incidentally, she does not feature in this list as she did not specialize in concert photography.)
New Jersey-born Clinch shot unforgettable photographs of Pearl Jam, Björk, Bruce Springsteen, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Dylan, and Tupac Shakur. Gifted with a unique perspective, he exploits the most sublime, almost religious moments of a musical concert.
More than a concert photographer, he is a rock 'n' roll chronicler. Since the second half of the 1960s, he's been photographing rock stars, from John Lennon and Patti Smith to the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and The Ramones. A native of New York, where he developed his career, he gained privileged access to those legendary artists' intimate moments and produced images that will remain in the history of rock forever.
In 2021, this Mexican concert photographer will celebrate 30 years behind the camera. He has documented the most important concerts in Mexico and other countries. His privileged access to the life of musicians and artists enabled him to write two books on Mexican stars and jazz musicians. He also took some incredible shots of David Bowie, Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, and Paul McCartney.
Known as the ultimate "Female photographer of Argentinian Rock," she is the best-known professional to have documented the last few decades of her country’s highly prolific music production. Besides capturing performances and what goes on backstage, she is also a successful fashion and advertising photographer. Her versatility brought her to create legendary covers for stars such as Mercedes Sosa, Charly Garcia, and Wham!.
She is the best-known Portuguese concert photographer. With a career spanning almost 30 years, Rita Carmo documented the recent evolution of pop and fado music in her country. She helped bring Portugal's music to the rest of the globe by closely following the boom of important festivals taking place in the country.
A student of fashion in the early 1990s, she did a photographic job for the weekly online magazine Blitz and got close to the world of music. Since then, she's been applying her eagle eye precision to documenting exciting shows.
One cannot talk about Brazilian concert photography without mentioning him. Active in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo over three decades, Marcos Hermes has captured significant images of Brazilian artists and musicians touring in Brazil from other countries.
Under his belt is an extensive collection of books, album sleeves, and artistic posters. He covered thousands of miles to follow Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, Ney Matogrosso, and Elza Soares. He was the official tour photographer of the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Beyoncé in Brazil.
If you want to expand your knowledge of this topic, check out all of Domestika’s Photography courses taught by highly-established professionals.