by Daniel Hill
Earlier, you helped us select our ten favorite concert photographers in St. Louis. We got well over 100 nominations, after which our panel of judges narrowed the field to just ten folks. In the coming weeks, we'll be introducing you to each of the finalists and having them share some of their favorite concert photos while answering a few questions about their process and passion.
Name: Abby Gillardi
How and when did you get involved with music photography?
Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated with photography, and I finally found my niche while shooting concerts a few years back. I started getting into the St. Louis music scene and would go to shows at the smaller venues around town. I would usually bring my camera and shoot for fun. Soon enough it turned into something that I was more serious about. Before I knew it, the hobby turned into a passion, and I started shooting for various publications and doing some freelance work. St. Louis is a great place to start something!
What are some highlights of your professional photography experience?
Being able to capture that sweet spot in a musician's career, right before they blow up, is super rewarding in some ways. Capturing the whole festival experience at LouFest was an incredible adrenaline rush. I'm hooked on shooting festivals now. It's such an exhilarating feeling, going from stage to stage all day to shoot your favorite bands. Also, being invited to photograph in-studio sessions and band practices has been a great way to get to know a lot of musicians and learn more about what it is they do.
I've seen everything from bar fights to marriage proposals. Beyond everything, though, I would say the biggest highlights have been meeting amazing people and making lifelong memories.
Where can people find your work?
I've been doing photography for KDHX (88.1 FM) for several years. I'm also the photographer for Arch City Radio. I recently started shooting for Eleven Magazine too. You can find a lot of my photography on my website, www.gillardiphotography.com.
What is your favorite part of doing music photography?
Capturing something that will never happen again, but can be reflected on over and over, is where photography and music really start to have a lot in common, I think. Those few seconds when the lights go out and the crowd starts screaming as the band takes the stage are completely exhilarating. It's an easy energy to get into. I always try to find the unique qualities in each band and how to best capture that. Personally, I'm looking for more than a cool shot. I want the photo to express some emotion. At the end of the day it's about looking at the photos and being able to hear them and experience what that was like all over again.
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What dos/don'ts do you have for young photographers who would like to pursue this type of work?
Do practice as much as you can at smaller shows first. Always be respectful of the band, the audience and other photographers. Do invest in a professional camera and lens. Do talk to other photographers between sets, as it's a great way to get pointers. Do take the time to learn your style and what it is you like. Don't use flash unless it's requested and you have permission. When you get good, do avoid thinking that you're better than other photographers. Photography, much like music, is subjective. Aim high, but stay humble.
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.
One of my favorites is of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, walking onto the LouFest main stage, wearing his KSHE shirt and the name "Bob" on his guitar. Jeff was paying homage to the late Bob Reuter, who had passed just weeks before the festival. Jeff and Bob recorded a few things together back in the '90s. It was really one of those "only in St. Louis" moments. I captured this shot with my Canon 60D and my 50 mm f1.4, which is a great lens for shooting outside at night. All of the stars were aligned for this one.
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