For April's #audioloveshowcase we are delighted to shed light on the work of a photographer who we think is an absolute must follow: @marktepsicphoto. Mark has been honing his craft steadily and improving with each shot and the quality is clear to see. Every image captured showcases an eye for composition and stunning use of colour, which all combines to create images that are jaw-droppingly beautiful. For those who are lovers of concert photography, we would definitely recommend checking out Mark's work; you will not be disappointed! We caught up with Mark to get his thoughts on his favourite lenses, advice for someone just starting out and also to understand his influences. Check out the full interview below
Tell us how you got started in concert photography?
I’m not a full-time photographer but started to get really serious about photography (in general) about 5 years ago. Previously I had only dabbled with it a bit. I upgraded a lot of gear, learned a lot of lighting techniques, and started doing corporate headshots.
Since I am a big fan of music as well as an avid concertgoer, it hit me while attending a show at Red Rocks that this could be something I would not only be really interested in, but I could dedicate time to become proficient. So, I did.. and I went down the same path that I listed above for getting into this industry. I still enjoy it as much today as I did when I first started.
What has been your favourite band to shoot, and why?
Generally, when I’m at a show where I’m really enjoying the music and there's a perfect mix of favourable lighting and a dynamic performance, I’m in my favourite environment to shoot. The most fun for me is when I feel conflicted between wanting to take photos and just wanting to put the camera down and take in the show. One band that stands out for me over the last year is Imagine Dragons; these guys always put on a fantastic show and there are so many great opportunities for photos! Other examples of favourite bands with similar experiences are DNCE, Fall Out Boy, MisterWives, New Politics and Grouplove.
What thoughts can you share and what advice would you give for photographers wanting to get into this industry?
There’s a process to becoming successful with concert photography, but anyone can do it! I would recommend reaching out to a couple local bands and asking them permission to shoot one of their shows at a small (really small) venue. Local bands will usually appreciate the coverage, and the smaller venues are more lenient with photographers. This is a great way to start building a portfolio and gain experience with concert photography. Unfortunately, shooting a small venue can be really difficult because the lighting is usually poor, and navigating a crowd isn’t much fun. The upside is that if a photographer can be successful shooting in a small venue, they can really shoot anywhere.
Regarding camera settings for concert photography, I posted a guest blog article on @neilvn Tangent’s page. Some of this information may be helpful for those just starting out: https://neilvn.com/tangents/camera-settings-for-concert-photography/
Once a small portfolio has been established, I would recommend reaching out to local publications and asking to become a contributor. Initially, this will likely be unpaid work, but it’s an investment we’ve all had to make to build up a portfolio and get the right experience. The best way into medium-sized to large venues with a photo pass is through a publication. There are usually smaller publications who only cover concerts and the overall local music scene, and I’d recommend starting with one of those since broader publications and media outlets will be looking for very experienced concert photographers (that’ll be the next step!).
Keep the gear simple to start, and grow into better lenses and camera bodies as appropriate. There is a wealth of information online to research regarding everything from photo pit etiquette to editing techniques. I highly recommend getting used to shooting in RAW format if the camera supports it, and spend time understanding how to use a RAW editor such as Adobe Camera Raw / Lightroom.
Network with other photographers, promoters, publicists, and band managers. As in most professions, getting where you want to be is sometimes more about who you know than what you know.
What typically tends to be your go-to camera body and choice of lens/lenses that you take into the pit?
I’m a Nikon shooter, and I currently carry two D850 bodies. I have taken many concert photos in the past with a D610 and D750. For concerts with a photo pit, my go-to lenses are the 14-24mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8. I sometimes carry what I consider the most versatile all-around lens, the 24-70mm f/2.8, however I’ve been leaving it in the bag more often lately as I feel the more interesting shots come from ultra wide or tighter focal lengths, not mid-range. For soundboard shoots, it’s either the same 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.7x converter, 300mm f/4, or occasionally a 400mm f/2.8 for arena shows when shooting for the house. Alongside the long lens I’ll have the 24-70mm with me for a few wide shots from the soundboard.
Which photographers do you admire on the scene at the moment?
This is a tough one because I really admire SO many photographers that I’ve gotten to know through the years, and many of them have had direct impact on expanding both my skillset and photo style in concert, portrait, landscape, and headshot photography. I’m happy to call a lot of Denver-based photographers my friends, and many have provided direct influence and guidance. On Instagram check out @m2foto, @kylecoopah, @greeblehaus, and @mkvackay, to name a few.
Outside of Colorado, I have admired many concert photographers for their amazing photos, tutorials, engagement, and diversity of work: @photosbycmo, @toddowyoung, @hurleyhurley, @shearerphoto, @jenndphotography, @bjornsphoto, @neilvn, @danidiamondphotography. All of these deserve a follow!