My Top 15 Concert Photos of 2011.

In the grand tradition I’ve been following for the last few years (see 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007), every year I try and make a photo set of my favorite shots from the year. It’s a good exercise, I recommend it for all creative types, it lets you see how your work changes and grows over time.

This year, I am doing it a little differently… I am breaking it up into this post, which is my Top 15 Concert Photos of 2011, and another post of my Top 12 Photos (non-concert) of 2011 (check back tomorrow for that one). Cheating, maybe, but shooting more non-concert stuff is a goal of mine, so I decided to break them up. I’m also going to try and write a little about each… so here goes!

In Alphabetical Order:

BB King @ the Birchmere

BB King at the Birchmere. I shot this on New Year’s Day, I believe. Was pretty happy to get a chance to see him play, and I managed to get really close, which is unusual at the Birchmere, because many showgoers rushed to get close when he came out, so I went up to. Never seen that before there.

Black Keys @ FreeFest 2011

The Black Keys at Virgin Fest. Kind of a classic shot, but well-executed, I think. Not the biggest fan of these guys, but they got the crowd super-excited and were one of a very few actual rock bands playing this year.

Celebration @ 2640

Celebration at 2640 Space. One of my favorite bands in town, this was an amazing show, the 2640 church was decorated with floating clouds and specially lit with ambient lights and projectors… really great experience. It was VERY hard to shoot, however, and I got this out of 100% total luck, going back during the last song to snap a few from the crowd. It ended up being published several times.

Coroner @ MDF 2011

Coroner at Maryland Death Fest. Again a bit of a standard shot, and one I barely remember taking. MDF is (by far) the most fun and amazing cultural event in Baltimore, even if you don’t like metal, but it can be grueling… so many bands over 4 days. This one just works for me.

Darkest Hour @ 9:30 Club

Darkest Hour at 9:30 Club. I used to love this band, and they are still great live. This was a tough shoot, pitch black in the photo pit, bad lighting, stage lights strobing… we were given little instruction about rules but I saw the other photographers switching to flash, so I did too. This was the first shot I took and by far the best from the show.

deep sleep @ ottobar

Deep Sleep at the Ottobar. What to say about Tony Pence but that it’s impressive that a man of his advanced years can both rock pants that tight AND do a split.

Ice Age @ GW

Iceage at Golden West. This was chosen by SPIN magazine as one of their top 10 best live photos of the year. It also led to me getting a soundcheck (two page photo spread) in SPIN, my first. Pretty awesome to fufill what for me was a life goal since I was in high school.

Integrity - pizza crowdsurfing!

Crowdsurfing with pizza at an Integrity Show. A one in a million capture at last year’s A389 Fest. This guy is crowdsurfing on top of 100s of kids, eating a slice. I can’t believe I managed to catch this guy’s finest hour. I salute you, man.

Ke$ha @ Patriot Center.

Ke$ha at Patriot Center. Ke$ha surprised me… WAY better than I expected. I like this shot because it’s different than the normal ones you see of her, or pop icons like her. I submitted it not expecting them to go for it, but it ran on the front page of Style! A nice surprise.


Mana at Patriot Center. I shot a lot a Patriot Center this year, probably because Kyle didn’t feel like driving out there. Mana were pretty ridiculous live, sort of like a Latino U2. They had more lights than I had ever seen at a concert before, and the entire set was wall to wall unironic huge rock ballads. Pretty fun.

Moby @ Fall Massive

Moby at DC Massive. This was a frustrating shoot because we were supposed to have really good access, but then we had really bad access. So I couldn’t get on side stage, or anything else… but sometimes when that happens, it’s good because you challenge yourself to think beyond the standard shots. Moby was behind this huge console so you couldn’t see his hands or equipment, and he had all these laser lights, so I decided to play around with what I had to work with. Pretty happy with the result.

Odd Future / OFWGKTA / Tyler The Creator

Odd Future at U St Music Hall. These guys. Wow, this was a crazy shoot. This was the first or second night of their first major tour, they had no idea what to expect. Tyler exclaimed loudly “man, I fucking LOVE playing shows!”, and their exuberance and excitement were palpable. They also hazed me pretty hard when I got to the shoot, which was during their sound check, making fun of me, calling me names, etc. After awhile though, they settled down and realized I was just doing my job, which was nice. Cool to see young stars on the cusp, still visibly excited by playing music.

Patti Smith @ FreeFest 2011

Patti Smith at Virgin Fest. Have to admit, never thought I would see her. Of all the bands I saw this year, she was just about the ONLY ONE who had anything vaguely political or rabble-rousing to say from stage. Great show, even though 80% of the kids in the crowd didn’t care about what she was saying, or perhaps didn’t even know who she was.

Skream & Benga @ Fall Massive

Skream & Benga at DC Massive. Another shot created out of necessity at not having access. I love the stillness in this one, in what was NOT a still situation. Very hard to get this through walls of fog and strobing lights/lasers. But I think it came out well.

Tune-Yards @ Red Palace

Tuneyards at Red Palace. One of my favorite shows this year, I had never heard her before this, but she put on such a good performance and has so much stage presence. She creates loops live, with instruments, pedals, and her voice, then her and her band accompany them. I imagine no two shows are alike… really fun.

  • View the photo set on Flickr
  • For the really curious, here are all the ones I considered for this post.
  • If you want to buy any of these as prints, just post in the comments or contact me, they are all available.