Todd Owyoung: Meet the Best Music Photographers in St. Louis

Categories: Best Of

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Photo by Todd Owyoung

What's the strangest thing that has happened to you while photographing live music?

When a normal "day at the office" includes dodging flying beer, rock star spit, and size ten combat boots to the head, nothing really surprises me anymore.

The most surreal thing that's happened to me outside of the photo pit was when I was shooting Mayhem Fest 2009 on assignment for Rolling Stone. Before his headlining set, Marilyn Manson approached me backstage with his fists up saying, "It's just you and me," and then proceed to shadowbox. After that, we chatted for a minute - all the things you hear about Marilyn Manson being very polite and well spoken are true.

What makes a professional photographer as opposed to an amateur?

This is a perennial question in photography, more than ever now with the proliferation of inexpensive, high quality digital cameras.

In the strictest sense, a professional photographer is someone who makes the majority of their income from photography. That's it -- this distinction has no bearing on quality.

However, beyond that dictionary definition, a professional photographer should be able to deliver consistent and high quality work, regardless of the situation. This is particularly true of music photography, where lighting and access can wild hugely from tour to tour and venue to venue. Anyone with a point and shoot can get lucky, but a pro music photog is one who will always nail the money shots, every single show.

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Photo by Todd Owyoung

Pick one of the photos you've submitted and tell us a little about it: Where was it shot, who is featured and (most importantly) how did you capture it? We'd love to hear logistical description or technical breakdowns or whatever else you want to tell us.

The photo I've picked is one of the singer Bobby Alt of the band Street Drum Corp. This image was made back in 2008 on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution Tour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.

For most of the start of the set vocalist Bobby Alt was running around like a madman. At one point, Alt came to the very front of the stage, dropped to one knee and started wailing. For concert photographers, a frontman move like this is pretty much the equivalent of money starting to rain from the sky. There was instantly a crush of photographers, all shoulder to shoulder and practically climbing over each other trying to make a shot.

I already had my exposure dialed in for the stage lighting - all I was concerned about in this moment was a millisecond of eye contact. I kept shooting as Alt's attention was split between the crowd at the barricade and the press photographers in the photo pit. Alt's eyes darted around the swarm for a second, gave me a glance, and then bounced to his feet. As quickly as the moment started, it was over.

This was one of those photography moments where, I admit, I immediately checked the camera's LCD to confirm the shot. Even with a camera that can shoot at 8 frames per second, all I got was a single frame of Bobby Alt staring right into my lens with crazy eyes before he was bounding off.

Over four years since making this image, even after all these years, it's still one of my favorite live music shots.

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Photo by Todd Owyoung

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1 comments
StrummerBurnett
StrummerBurnett

@rftmusic @toddowyoung And a heckuva nice guy too! Been waiting to read this one. Definitely my choice for the best in #stl.

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