Fifty Concert Photographers From the Past and Present You Should Know

These lens jockeys are skilled at snapping musicians in the thick of a show.
Art & Culture
Fifty Concert Photographers From the Past and Present You Should Know

These lens jockeys are skilled at snapping musicians in the thick of a show.

Words: Laura Studarus

photo by Charles Peterson 

March 22, 2019

With a smartphone in every pocket, it’s no wonder every concert attendee fancies themselves a photographer these days. But for the real artists, a.k.a. the lens jockeys at the front of the stage, it’s a bit trickier. Operating on a wing and a prayer, and usually only given three songs to grab the goods, they’re forced to negotiate tiny spaces and unpredictable lighting patterns in the name of grabbing a lasting performance shot. Like the old nursery rhyme about a girl with the curl in the center of her forehead, when it’s good, it’s very very good. And when it’s bad, it’s horrid. But talent does prevail.

From Charles Peterson, whose iconic shot is featured above, to Jim Marshall, who Annie Leibovitz called “the rock ‘n’ roll photographer,” to Mick Rock, who’s famous for capturing legends like Bowie and Iggy Pop, here are fifty photographers who have mastered the art of the concert shot.

Danny Clinch

New Jersey–born Danny Clinch got his start as intern for Annie Leibovitz, and while he might be most famous as a portrait photog (he’s shot everyone from Johnny Cash and Tupac to Björk and Dave Matthews), he’s no stranger to getting into the thick of things in front of the stage.

David Redfern

Having hitched a ride on the Magical Mystery Tour and photographed pretty much every jazz legend ever (sometimes more than once), chances are you know David Redferns’ work. The photographer passed away in 2014, but his images have already earned the term “legendary.”

Ellie Pritts


View this post on Instagram


@fkatwigs ?

A post shared by ellie pritts (@elliepritts) on

Ellie Pritts washes her shots in sheets of color, creating a hypnotic effect that splits the difference between synesthesia and the best concert dream you’ve ever had.

Christina Craig


View this post on Instagram


omw. #daynnight #laflame

A post shared by Christina Chi Craig (@urbanafterthought) on

As the Observatory Orange County’s photographer in residence, Christina Craig creates a world of glam on the regular. The Kills, Kehlani, and Wet have all been recent recipients of her slicker-than-thou visual treatments.

Rod Clemen

Denmark’s Rod Clemen enters the pit with at least a half-dozen cameras and emerges with a damn good shot. His images all imply a delicious sense of motion—caught frozen in time.

Michal Murawski

Polish photographer Michal Murawski may be best known locally for his snaps of homeland hero Brodka. But with his regular rotation of venues and festivals, he’s also captured darkly beautiful shots of the likes of Phoenix, FKA Twigs, and Tricky.

Andrew Benge

Andrew Benge is a regular in photo pits across Europe. His perfectly timed, heavily saturated shots seem to catch artists like The Lemon Twigs, Dream Wife, and The Flaming Lips in their most unguarded states of natural bliss.

Gaelle Beri


View this post on Instagram


HB @mynameisbabyblue ✌?❤️ #cagetheelephant took this pic at lolapalooza chicago a few years ago.

A post shared by Gaelle Beri (@gaelleberi) on

On tour, Gaelle Beri has logged miles with numerous bands and shot at practically every festival in Europe. (She also happens to be a regular in The Cure photo pits across the world.) It’s no surprise—her heavily saturated live shots all have a sense of wonder to them, almost like seeing your favorite band in-person for the first time.

Andy Barron

As Foster the People’s favorite photo sidekick, Andy Barron has crossed the globe multiple times in the name of snapping Los Angeles’ finest. But in his spare time, he’s also braved the pits, crowds, and stages for the likes of Hillsong United, Alabama Shakes, and Kendrick Lamar.

Helen Boast

This Dubai-based photographer most recently caught a ride from Eve for an eleven-week American tour, where every night she made images almost as slick as the rap queen herself.

Alice Baxley


View this post on Instagram


Round 2 lessss get it ? brochella

A post shared by Alice (@abaxley) on

At this point, Alice Baxley is practically a member of FIDLAR. The film fan has been alongside the Los Angeles punks since day one, capturing their journey one polaroid at a time. In the digital world, though, she’s shot crisp concert shots for LNTV, The New York Times, NME, and Stereogum.

Danny Payne

Danny Payne’s images of Florence + the Machine, Biffy Clyro, and Pete Wentz have graced the pages of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and more. It’s easy to see why: The British photog has an innate ability to capture an epic sense of motion, light, and occasion in every frame.

Kirstie Shanley

Be it Björk’s incredible costumes, an outstretched limb from a member of Franz Ferdinand, or Grimes’ flying hair mid-performance, Kirstie Shanley’s images tell quite a story. The Chicago-based photographer lists her gear on her website, but her secret weapon—the ability to see the magic in even the smallest details—is hers alone.

Lindsey Best

Los Angeles’ Lindsey Best thrives in the close-up. Her live shots of Andrew Bird, Jenny Lewis, and Spoon look like they were shot at a concert for one—which basically means she’s made all our wildest dreams come true.

Charles Peterson

Charles Peterson’s images of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney helped put a face on the Seattle grunge scene in all of its gritty, flannel-wearing glory. These days, Peterson remains active documenting everything from celebrities at Sundance to his family life. “Yep, I’m that guy,” his Instagram bio reads, “the famous grunge photographer. Now a modern dad working from a Seattle home basement with a beautiful family.”

Ken Grand-Pierre 

New York’s Ken Grand-Pierre fears no crowd or pit. His intense live shots capture the energy of the sweaty dive bar or bouncing concert venue—placing the viewer right in the middle of the chaos.

Brick Stowell

Brick Stowell brings a rawness to the concert photography game, capturing hip-hop in all its gritty, down-to-earth glory.

David James Swanson


View this post on Instagram


#childishgambino #iheartradio #iheartradiomusicfestival #donaldglover

A post shared by David James Swanson (@davidjamesswanson) on

Live shots served with a side of attitude. The White Stripes, Lady Gaga, HAIM—David James Swanson has been there, shot that, and made them all look even cooler in the process (if that’s even possible). 

Håvard Jørstad

Not only is Håvard Jørstad a notable portrait photographer (you might have seen his bold images of Tove Lo, Pharrell, or Halsey), he’s also dynamic in the concert photo pit, capturing shots of Miguel, Ellie Goulding, and OutKast.  

Taylor Swaim 

Sure, New York photographer Taylor Swaim shoots big, splashing musicians like St. Vincent and Florence + the Machine. But she never fails to capture the more intimate, core essence of those artists in her photos.

Jim Marshall

You definitely know Jim Marshall’s images. Sadly he passed away, but over his fifty-year career he shot the likes of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin. There’s a reason Annie Leibovitz counts him among her favorites—his images literally shaped the look of rock and roll.

Tord Litleskare

You can tell Tord Litleskare really likes his subjects. The photographer’s images, be it Radiohead, Grimes, or emerging artists like Vintage Trouble, are shot with the gaze of a loving fan. It’s no wonder he’s one of the prime photogs at Norway’s biggest music outlet, GAFFA. 

Hannah Bowns


View this post on Instagram


Keeping it in 2015 with this throwback feat. @abandcalledheck. #HannahBownsPhotography #Heck

A post shared by Hannah Bowns Photography (@hbownsphoto) on

Risking both life, limb, and ear drums, Britain’s Hannah Bowns never seems to miss a chance to be right in the center of things. The results don’t just speak for themselves—they shout.

Cam Kirk

Cam Kirk’s candid performance shots of Young Jeezy, ScHoolboy Q, and Estelle are infused with a timeless, introspective glamour.

Samantha Marble 

Be it during a crowd surf or a folk solo, there’s a sense of warmth and humanity to each one of Samantha Marble’s images.

Ebru Yildiz

Ebru Yildiz’s graceful black and white live pictures take something an artist does every night and turns it into a timeless piece of art.

Colin Kerrigan

Colin Kerrigan also works as a photojournalist—so it’s no surprise that his photos feel like dynamic captures of a distinct moment in time.

Mick Rock

From Jagger’s lips to Iggy Pop’s hips, Mick Rock has captured some of the biggest names in music. There’s a reason he’s known as “the man who shot the ’70s,” though his work is every bit as dynamic and exciting in the 2000s as it was back then. 

Piper Ferguson

Piper Ferguson mainly concerns herself with music videos and editorials these days. But when the Los Angeles photog graces the pits with her presence, few people can connect with artists in action like she does.

Nicole Fara Silver


View this post on Instagram


cardi b ? #jingleball shot for @nytimes …was very cool to shoot such a female dominated lineup thank you @jolieruben!!

A post shared by Nicole Fara Silver (@nicolefara) on

Nicole Fara Silver’s live images play like a visual gasp—which is probably exactly what the crowd is doing when artists like Halsey, Cardi B, or Dua Lipa take the stage in all their widescreen pop glory.

Christie Goodwin

If practice makes perfect, Christie Goodwin’s thirty-year career proves it. The London photographer went from sneaking her camera into shows to being an in-demand presence, capturing musicians in the throes of creative bliss.

Joe Papeo

Joe Papeo captures a performer’s strength in all its high-kicking, hair-flipping, rap-spitting glory. Expect to see him in the pit for the big names—most recently Young the Giant, Action Bronson, and Alanis Morissette were some of the artists to benefit from his attention/admiration/photo kung fu.

Ryan Muir

Mid-step/song/note, Ryan Muir has a flair for catching artists in the middle of doing what they do best.

Timothy Hiatt 

Whether it’s Aerosmith pointing into the camera, a staring contest with KISS, or just The Weeknd in his perfect light, Timothy Hiatt has an ability to be at the right place at the right time.

Mike Lerner

Mike Lerner doesn’t just shoot shows, he documents them in all their sloppy, occasionally unhinged glory. Flip through his portfolio for an intimate look at the unpolished side of rock and roll. 

Caesar Sebastian


View this post on Instagram


Good life #acidtechno #thiscouldbeus

A post shared by Caesar Sebastian (@caesarsebastian) on

Caesar Sebastian’s secret powers lie in his ability to capture an engaging crowd shot—highlighting music fans at their most engaged and emotionally invested.

Jenny Lens

Jenny Lens is a punk’s punk. In the late-70s, it was her photos that helped launch the likes of GermsThe Clash, and The Go-Gos into the public consciousness. It isn’t just the ladies who owe her a debt of gratitude for paving the way, though—photogs everywhere have her to thank for forging a spirited live language.

Mary Caroline Russell


View this post on Instagram


@johnnyswim walking off stage in ATL ⚡️

A post shared by Mary Caroline Russell (@marycarolinerussell) on

Every image Chicago-based photographer Mary Caroline Russell shoots captures the simplicity of the moment, boiling down large-scale concerts to one look of concentration or joy. The results are incredibly intimate. 

Brigid Gallagher 

Running and jumping and kicking and Iggy Pop—oh my! Brigid Gallagher’s portfolio is a visual workout, and a tribute to the kinetic artist.

Reva May

Reva May’s dark, moody images capture the feel of the music just as much as an event’s visual details. It’s no wonder everyone from Bandsintown to LADYGUNN has clamored to feature her work.

Cortney Armitage

Cortney Armitage’s concert images tend to focus on a single person. The frame-filling technique allows every detail—from costumes to swagger—a chance to shine.

Jim Sinco

Dreamy colors, stark black and white, and streaks of light—Hungarian photographer Jim Sinco elevates even the most routine rock and roll gig into high art.

Sarah Hess


View this post on Instagram



A post shared by Sarah Hess (@sarahhasanh) on

Sarah Hess knows how to use light in her favor, covering her photos with playful lens flares, or even overlaying different images to create a ghostly glimmer.

DeShaun Craddock

DeShaun Craddock’s concert snaps are so precisely timed they almost look like portraiture—or splashy musical moments performed for an audience of one.

Adam Elmakias

Adam Elmakias manages to consistently capture bands at their most unguarded—during that moment when the music or the sensory overload threatens to sweep them away completely.

Chris Owyoung

New York photog Chris Owyoung has got a knack for bright lights, brighter colors, and still brighter stars. If there’s an A-lister in town, chances are he’ll be in the pit.

Carolina Faruolo


View this post on Instagram


@lordemusic Main Stage at @parklife_festival ? Shot for Parklife Festival as part of the @fanaticlive team ?

A post shared by Carolina Faruolo (@cfaruolo) on

Whether she’s on the stage or in the pit, Carolina Faruolo brings the viewer along for the ride, capturing every detail in their emotion-evoking glory.

Matěj Hošek

Czech photographer Matěj Hošek is punk at heart. That energy courses through each one of his images—perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to the moving photos from Harry Potter.

Robert Redfield

Southern Californian Robert Redfield is skilled at catching the little things, like when an artist isn’t so much performing as they are happily existing in the moment. 

Pooneh Ghana


View this post on Instagram


Get em ?? @reelbigtuna @twinpeaksdudes // @hotluckfest // May 2018

A post shared by Pooneh Ghana (@poonehghana) on

Pooneh Ghana skillfully plays with saturation and color, making her already dynamically lensed images of The Horrors, Savages, and The Weeknd all the more breathtaking.