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Music in Focus: An interview with photographer Amber Stokosa

A Silent Film
A Silent Film
Amber Stokosa

Hello and welcome back to Music in Focus, a weekly interview series featuring a music photographer and their stories. I have contacted some of the best that I have seen or worked with in the photo pit, in hopes to inspire those out there to maybe pick up their camera and capture some amazing musical moments. In addition to finding out all about their gear and style, you will also get to check out some of their best work. If you like what you see, continue to the artist's personal sites and continue following their work.

Amber Stokosa got a DSLR from her dad as a college graduation present so she said "Hey, I'll be a concert photographer!" and she never looked back. She has lived and covered shows in Southern California and lower Michigan and tends to focus on the alternative pop/rock genre, because she guesses that's what she likes, even though her favorite song is "Mainstreet" by Bob Seger. Also, she has written for Examiner.com for over three years.

Website: amberstokosa.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AmberStokosaPhotography

Twitter and Instagram: @AStokosaPhoto

Flickr: flickr.com/photos/amberstokosaphotography

CLICK HERE to start the Q&A or click the photo on the left!

What was the first camera you shot with?
What was the first camera you shot with? Amber Stokosa

What was the first camera you shot with?

What was the first camera you shot concerts with?

A Nikon D90 and it was a college graduation present from my dad.

(Note: Two weeks in a row for the D90)

What was the first show you shot?
What was the first show you shot? Amber Stokosa

What was the first show you shot?

What was the first show you shot?

The Ataris at Mac's Bar in Lansing, MI. I had no idea what I was doing. I shot with my kit lens and was so confused the entire time. Definitely a learning experience.

Best show you've shot? Worst?
Best show you've shot? Worst? Amber Stokosa

Best show you've shot? Worst?

Best show you've shot? Worst?

That depends on what you mean by "best!" The show I enjoyed shooting the most was probably Neon Trees back in 2010 at the San Diego County Fair. They were my favorite band back then and I got to shoot on stage with them. (Best feeling ever!)

As far as the worst show... probably last year's Warped Tour 2012. I loved the shots I got, but the process of shooting it was just awful. With the heat index it was 107 humid degrees in Michigan. There were people passing out and getting carried to the first aid tent. I got puked on by this girl standing up against the rail who blew chunks onto the barricade and my legs. Also a security guard lost his balance after catching a crowd surfer and fell into me, shoving me up against the stage so hard I thought my legs were going to break. I got kicked in the head pretty hard by a crowd surfer and shortly afterwards a photographer who had been kneeling down in front of me stood up pretty fast, ramming his head into my lens and consequently shoving it into my eye. But anyway...

Which do you prefer and why: Festivals or Shows?
Which do you prefer and why: Festivals or Shows? Amber Stokosa

Which do you prefer and why: Festivals or Shows?

Which do you prefer and why: Festivals or Shows?

There are pros and cons of each , really. I'd rather not lug a bunch of gear around giant festival grounds while I pour sweat and wince from foot pain, but it's a great way to be able to photograph 11+ artists daily. It also makes for some great crowd shots during the day and the lighting is usually spectacular at night, especially on the main stages. And although festivals are a lot of work I always feel really accomplished when it's over. They're much more exciting than shows, so if I had to pick one I'd probably say festivals.

What one thing would you change about how concert photography is handled?
What one thing would you change about how concert photography is handled? Amber Stokosa

What one thing would you change about how concert photography is handled?

What one thing would you change about how concert photography is handled?

"Rights grab" photo releases. I've never signed one . When I take photos of a band those photos are mine, not the band's. I understand their concern for how photos of them are being used but demanding a transference of the rights to the photos is not okay. And the more photographers sign them, the more band managers will think they're okay.

Any must-do travel tips for photographers hauling gear?
Any must-do travel tips for photographers hauling gear? Amber Stokosa

Any must-do travel tips for photographers hauling gear?

Any must-do travel tips for photographers hauling gear?

Don't just take everything. Think about the shoot and take only what you think you'll need. But if you have any doubts, TAKE IT. You don't want to be far away from home, wishing you had a certain lens and kicking yourself for not bringing it along. Also BRING BACKUPS. Extra batteries, memory cards, and even camera bodies if you have more than one is always a good idea.

Any advice for up-and-comers?
Any advice for up-and-comers? Amber Stokosa

Any advice for up-and-comers?

Any advice for up-and-comers?

Don't be intimidated by other photographers but be humble. Don't ask other photographers what settings they use. Don't expect success right away and don't act like you know everything. A lot of experienced photographers will look down on you if you're a newbie, but that's just to make themselves feel better. Don't think about that; just think about doing your best shooting the show and how those photographers will feel when they see your work.

What would be your dream shoot?
What would be your dream shoot? Amber Stokosa

What would be your dream shoot?

What would be your dream shoot?

A great band, perfect lighting, no restrictions and all access. Also my dream has always been to capture the tour experience; I'd love to tour with a band as their photographer someday.