Ready to rock: Jordan Hefler, concert photography
How and why did you get started photographing musicians and concerts?
I grew up playing trumpet in band, singing in the school choir, and teaching myself guitar. I would see iconic images of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles and think, “Wow, someone documented history.” I never dreamed I could be doing the same thing until one day when I saw a photo of a band in a Facebook group for photographers. I commented, asking how she got access to shoot them that close. Other photographers offered suggestions, and I started reaching out to local bands and publications.
I love the fact that as an artist I can make art of musicians, who I also look up to as artists. It’s all pretty meta when you think about it. I also enjoy surprising people when they ask me about what I like to shoot. When you graduate in photography, everyone expects you to shoot their wedding. I tried my hand at that, and after about a year I decided that I wasn’t going to be that person who majored in what they love but end up hating what they do.
What elements or qualities are you trying to capture in your band photos?
When shooting a concert from a photo pit, it’s standard that you can only photograph the first three songs. The lighting is unpredictable, the bands are generally unpredictable, and the fans are definitely unpredictable. I always try to get clear shots that show true emotion and make the viewer feel like they were there. It can be difficult to do in three songs when you’re fighting for the right shot with other photographers and dodging crowd surfers, but that’s what makes it such a rush!
Can you share a memorable photo assignment?
I had cervical disc replacement surgery at the end of November, and the doctor told me I couldn’t shoot for a month and a half or so. Warner Brothers Records had launched a contest for photo passes for every date of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ tour. I entered on a whim and won! The concert was the first week in January, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t cleared to be photographing anything just yet … especially not a rock concert wearing two cameras on a harness. But I had second-row seats, AND Flea looked at my camera, giving me one of my favorite shots ever. It was amazing.
See more concert photography from Jordan Hefler by clicking on the images in the gallery below: