Picking my 50 favourite concert photos from one in ten words for 2016 was an exceedingly difficult task. I saw over 300 bands at 99 concerts and had so many amazing experiences. I’ve discovered year after year that my favourite photos are more linked to the great times I’ve had at shows, and whether the mood of the show was captured in the shot, than anything about technical excellence, composition or “art”. If I had a bad time at a show, chances are I won’t really like the photos. If I had a great time at a show, those good memories can overshadow the technical or artistic photographic elements. So, like my love of certain music over other music, my choice of photos is very much based on passion and emotion over logic and reason.
I think that there are two key aspects of great photography from the photographer's perspective; taking a photo, and then realizing you have a great photo. It's absolutely not as easy as you think. You may skip right past what someone else would think is the most brilliant photo. I find self-assessment really difficult. Post-processing is also a huge factor in making a good photo into a great photo. How you choose to process the photo - leave it colour, make it black and white, treat it with more contrast, emphasize or deemphasize the highlights or shadows, will all impact how the end photo is perceived. I find that cropping is very significant to the end result. Too much and you can remove the atmosphere, too little and there's no focal point for the shot. Sometimes I'll go through several crops before deciding on the final shot to publish. Hey, no one said it would be easy, right?
Well, here they are, in my humble opinion, the 50 best photos that appeared on one in ten words in 2016. Special thanks to Roy Cohen, B. Hartling and Brendan Albert for their contributions this year. And special thanks to all the artists, promoters and publicists who let me into shows and all the teams at the festivals, concerts, halls, clubs and bars that were so hospitable. Without you, what I'm lucky enough to do would not be possible.
If you like a shot or an artist, be sure to click through to the rest of the photos from the show and some tunes. All the best for 2017 and hope you stick with me as I switch focus to concentrate more on concert photography and move other aspects of the site to the back-burner, for a while at least.
And finally, in case you missed them, check out my favourite songs of 2016 and my favourite albums of 2016.Leah Fay giving it her all at Field Trip last summer. Amazing band. Amazing show. Amazing day. And this shot captures that energy.
Sumo Cyco's show at the intimate Cherry Cola's was one of the most fun shows I caught this year. It had been quite a while since I saw them perform and they put on one of the most fun shows I saw all year. This shot captures Skye's fun attitude, cool energy and manages to deal with the vivid red LED lighting. It's a shot that I linger on whenever it comes across my screen.
Monster Truck's Roxy Theatre show was amazing. This shot captures the crowd energy and the band's energy coming together.
The Cure's headlining performance at Bestival. Robert Smith standing alone on stage as the crowd expresses their appreciation for him and his legendary tunes. It captures that feeling between the band and audience from a great vantage point.
This show at Danforth Music Hall was an emotional and triumphant one for me, personally. And this shot captures that feeling of human, musical glory.
a sweaty show at The Silver Dollar Room.
The Balconies put on a cool show at one of Toronto's most magnificent venues, The Great Hall. I love how balance, symmetry and beauty come together in this shot. I think it captures the power and grace of The Balconies.
James Bay at TURF captures the show, the energy and the special point of view the fisheye delivers.
first time shooting at Massey Hall. Thanks, Frank.
Their performance in the afternoon sun at Bestival was captivating, emotional and cathartic. It slayed me to my soul and I know from talking to people at the festival, I wasn't alone. This shot captures James Graham's almost unhinged performance. I cannot wait to see this band again.
show at The Danforth Music Hall.
The Joy Formidable. This shot captures Ritzy's on-stage energy so well. This marked my first time shooting these amazingly talented musicians.
Craig Finn of The Hold Steady from TURF captures one of my favourite performers and songwriters in action. Glad I got a shot of him pointing.
All Day I Dream is my personal favourite.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls' Massey Hall gig. I love the way this shot captures Ben Lloyd's and the audience's energy. What a great show!
Rural Alberta Advantage drummer Paul Banwatt from Riverfest Elora does just that. He's a captivating drummer to watch because of the energy and passion he puts into his playing.
Bollywood Stage at Bestival was a lot harder than you think it would be. But I got it!
Pup was at Hillside. This photo captures the band's intensity, the audience's energy and the wall of security guards holding back the fence. Maybe consider a proper concert barrier next time.
Leah Fay from July Talk at Field Trip captures her interaction with the audience; tightrope walking along the barrier. I was dying for her to turn around but I like how this turned out even better than if she did.
from the Bovine Sex Club.
their gig at The Silver Dollar Room. I'll see them any time I get the chance now. This shot captures their unique energy.
the latter at Lee's Palace.
Vivien Shepherd and John Campbell are both pros who don't need a lot of direction. And this shot, which was the idea in my head when we started, turned out well and turned out to be their favourite.
I Mother Earth with Edwin, playing Scenery & Fish in its entirety. Something I never thought I'd see. This is Edwin belting it out. What an amazing show!
Gord, and the crowd watching him.
a night of very challenging lighting.
Marlon Chaplin at one of my final shows of 2016.
his performance; him belting out wonderful melodies.
Ty Segall's performance last winter. It looks like a crazy show and this shot communicates that.
Sumo Cyco's Cherry Cola's show.
Best Coast's Danforth Music Hall show. This is my favourite shot from that show.
crowd at Riverfest Elora. A treble clef peace sign tattoo at a music festival. What could be more perfect?
Robyn's Field Trip show looked challenging. But I got a lot of great shots. This is my favourite. A contemplative moment during a high-energy set.
the parade was one of the highlights. This shot captures the vibe quite nicely.
Diet Cig's Drake Underground show. I can't wait to see them again when they return to Toronto on April 11.
High Waisted at The Silver Dollar Room. It captures the band's vibe really well, I think.
Catfish and The Bottlemen. Add to that the fact that they shared a bunch of the pics on their social media, and that they put on a killer live show.
Steel Panther are an amazing band to see live and to photograph. Roy Cohen made this shot at Rebel.
The Faint at Velvet Underground.
Rome Fortune that Roy Cohen captured at Velvet Underground.
Walk Off The Earth at Riverfest Elora took patience and perseverance. But I got it!
The Effens really impressed me with their live show at The Horseshoe. And I like this shot.
Skye | Ross at Velvet Underground. This symmetrical, angel wing shot is wonderful.
Acro Buddhas created a beautiful display of grace and strength at Bestival.
Eagulls' guitarist in complete shadow. But I rather like how this "compromise" picture turned out.
shared this photo from their performance at The Horseshoe Tavern with the comment, "Things I have forgotten to pack for a tour over the years: passport, socks, my right leg". Awesome!
Death Cab for Cutie were performing and the purveyors of delicious treats. It's all there in all its distorted, fishbowl glory.