PetaPixel

Interview with Mike Lerner, Justin Bieber’s Concert Photographer

Mike Lerner is a freelance photographer who has worked with some of the music industries hottest stars. He is currently Justin Bieber’s official concert photographer. Visit his website here.


PetaPixel: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Mike Lerner: I’m 27 years old and based out of Brooklyn, NY. I was born and raised on Long Island. I have been photographing professionally for about 2 years now, but started my interest in photography roughly 5 years ago.

PP: How did you first get into photography, and how did your career develop?

ML: I’ve answered this questions so many times, and every time people still can’t believe that I went from what I was doing to photography. To make a long story somewhat short, I was playing online poker to pay my rent and making some decent money. On the weekends my roommates and I would go out to New York City clubs and they would help me spend my weekly winnings. I remember one night back in late 2006, we were at this club called Stereo. I saw this guy taking party photos — you know, one of those “club photographers.” Anyway, it turned out that the guy was Bronques from Lastnightsparty.com. I remember going back home and seeing the photos and thinking that what he did was pretty cool, but it wasn’t until I saw some of his concert photos that I became more intrigued. Not that they were good, but it was the access that interested me… how physically close you could get to music.

About a month after that, I shot my first show: The Bravery at Terminal 5 in NYC. Up until that point the only photos I had ever taken had been on my dad’s many old 35mm film SLRs and I had never shot anything in motion. I was in that photo pit without a clue as to what I was doing, and using my dad’s Nikon D50, a camera I had never used before (which didn’t help either). Needless to say, I was hooked.

I began shooting a show a week. This was from January to March 2007, and a big break for me came in April when I shot a relatively unknown Katy Perry at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. Networking has always been something very important to me, and I knew her manager was going to be at the show, so I made sure to introduce myself. From then on, whenever Katy was in NYC, he made sure I was at the show taking photos. It was my pictures of her that gave my portfolio what it needed to be taken somewhat seriously, and started a following for me on Tumblr.

After that summer, I flew to London to take some live photos of Katy. It was funny because I had left my camera batteries at JFK airport and the only other cameras I had were two Minolta SRT101s, but out of all the shots from all the photographers in the pit that night (at least 25), a black and white photo I took was chosen to be the ad mat for her next national tour. Unfortunately, that photo was a little bit too noisy for the art director in the end. I also had a photo displayed at the Tate Modern that same summer as part of a group exhibition, and for someone with little under a year’s experience, I thought that it was really exciting. After that I was touring with smaller bands, did the Warped Tour thing, and started to take promotional images, portraits, and candid backstage photos more seriously than live work.

PP: How did you become Justin Bieber’s concert photographer? Can you tell us the story behind that?

ML: It’s a very unexciting story. A roommate of mine at the time in Brooklyn was sharing office space with Brad Haugen, one of Justin’s people who was still based in NYC. He heard that they were looking for a new photographer, and my roommate, knowing of my work since he managed one of the bands I toured with, mentioned my name. He asked if he could see my work. That was on a Friday. I still didn’t have a proper website at the time, so I had a friend build me a really simple one. On Monday Brad told me he really enjoyed my work and that he had to go through a couple more people to get a final answer. A week later I was on the phone with Justin, and he said he liked my work and was looking forward to having me on tour. His world tour started a week and a half later, and my career as Justin Bieber’s tour photographer started.

PP: What gear do you shoot with these days?

ML: My gear is extremely simple. I use a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 50mm for 80% of my work. For tour, I add a 16-35L and a 70-200L. I use a 600EX flash with a transmitter. And that’s really it. For this new tour I will be adding a couple of point and shoot 35mm film cameras, a Canon Sure Shot 60 and a Pentax Mini Sport 35AF. I will use those mostly for backstage candids — a more raw, gritty and overbearing-flash type of photo. I’ll also bring out a medium format Kiev60 to play around with. I love the 1D body because of its focusing system. I go through almost all 45 focus points per show. The 5D Mark II was an option, but after I tested it, I found some low light focusing problems, and its speed was an issue for me. Remember, these are personal feelings I had — the 5D is an awesome camera. I really dont care too much about gear. I use what I want and if I don’t like the results of a camera or type of film, I’ll scrap it.

I understand the whole “3 bodies and 5 lenses” sort of thing with some photographers, but to me it’s overkill. I have to run around arenas. Have you ever used a 1D body with a 70-200? That thing weighs a ton. The great thing about tour is that I have 90 opportunities to make different photos, so I have an advantage over the photographers who are only there for 1 show, carrying 2 bodies and 5 lenses. I have the freedom to be super selective and less rushed.

PP: What does a typical day look like while you’re on tour with Justin?

ML: That’s the thing, there really is no typical day, but I’ll give answer this a try. I guess a “typical” day would be either hotel or bus in the morning before the show. If it’s a show day I usually make it to the venue around 2-3pm for a bit of lunch. Then some of the dancers/band members and I might go check out if there is anything around the venue that we can check out. If not, I’m just listening to music in a corner and napping. At certain shows, Justin will do what’s called a “soundcheck party” where people are given the chance to watch him and the band soundcheck a couple of songs and ask him questions. These are always great to photograph.

Sometime after that there is the meet and greet. I don’t take the meet and greet photos, but I make sure I’m there because the kid is amazing with his fans, and I want to be there to capture that. Seriously, anyone who has a bad thing to say about Justin has never seen him interact with his fans at a meet and greet. The kid has a warm heart.

After meet and greet it’s dinner time and a little bit of candid stuff in the green rooms. About an hour before the show, I’m shooting everything backstage. Then comes the pre-show huddle/prayer, and then I’m off to shoot the show for 2 hours. After the show it’s either go have a fun time with everyone or start editing early. I usually have a bit of fun before I start editing, and if there is a bus call time/curfew that night, that’s when I’ll start my editing. I’ll edit anywhere from 40-80 shots and send those rough edits the same night or the next morning, depending on the Wi-Fi situation, to the 5 people who need them. I generally send shots out the same day. Bed time is usually anywhere between 4-6am and then I do the same thing the next day. It would be so monotonous were it not for the lovely off days.

Sometimes “typical” doesn’t come into mind because one day I played golf with Justin on a private course in Brazil under the watch of armed guards, or visited a children’s hospital in Liverpool, or have taken my first private jet trip, or have been on the sets of the Jimmy Fallon Show, the Today Show and MTV studios all in the same day to do BTS photos. That probably wouldn’t classify as “typical” typical.

PP: How much are you traveling, and how much free time do you have while on tour?

ML: We’re traveling constantly. In Europe and the US & Canada it’s all busses. Asia, Australia, Middle East, and Latin America is all by flight and there are some insanely early lobby calls. I’ve racked up quite the bit of sky smiles, but I’m a newbie as far as everyone else is concerned and most of the crew are diamond status flyers.

My off days are precious. I’m either sleeping or catching the sights like a normal tourist. Latin America was tough because I wasn’t venturing out in the streets of Caracas with 6 grand worth of equipment.

PP: What is the one photo you’re most proud of creating?

ML: This one is probably one of my all time favorite images:

He had just ended one of his songs in Singapore. The stage was nice and small, maybe only 3-4 feet off of the ground. He was staring into the video camera to my left and on the huge screen it looked like he was staring directly at me. It’s one of my all time favorites. I shoot my stills RAW but display them in black and white, and this image just jumped out at me.

PP: What are some unique challenges that come with working with a musician as popular as Justin?

ML: There was this one example in London when O2 security told me I couldn’t shoot in or around the arena. They didn’t want any photographers outside the photo pit because they thought it would rile up the fans even more than they already were, and that really limited me as far as getting a variety of photos. Also, venturing out into the city and shooting proves difficult because kids always find us. Other than that, I can pretty much shoot whatever I want, but I have my own limitations when it comes to invading privacy. I know when not to take a photo.

PP: As his official concert photographer, how much of the personal life of Justin Bieber are you given access to?

ML: PP: I’m not really “given” access. It’s more what I’m invited to take part in. Over the past year and a half we’ve grown closer in our professional relationship. He invited me to shoot his 18th birthday earlier this year and totally trusts me. There are times when I know when not to take a photo. Everyone needs his personal space and I can easily feel out those moments. I’m glad I’m not attached at the hip though. I work with him when he’s in his element and those make for the best photos, the iconic photos. What will you remember, any paparazzi photo you see of him exiting a 7-11 or the photo above?

PP: This isn’t quite photography related but, from your experiences so far, what’s one thing about Justin that most people don’t know?

ML: But the answer is photography related! He’s a big camera nerd. Whenever I bring any of my film cameras around, he’s always interested in checking them out and eager to learn how they work. For the most part he uses a 7D with a 50mm 1.2, which I told him wasn’t at all necessary. But then again, he can afford it.

PP: After shooting concert after concert, how do you manage to still find “fresh ideas” and new angles to capture?

ML: After I see a shot that I love, I can usually remember during what song the action took place in. This lets me go back the next day and get either wider or tighter or change the angle and get a totally different perspective. What type of photographer would I be if I simply took the same photo over and over again? Also, I can take the same image, but use a different camera to change the overall feel of the image.

PP: What kind of copyright agreement do you have? Do you completely own the rights to all the photos you’ve captured?

ML: I can’t really go into it, but we (myself and his lawyers, publicists, managers) came up with an awesome contract that we were both happy with in the end.

PP: How do you determine how much to charge for your work, especially given the “star power” of the artists you work with?

ML: On these type of jobs, the last thing to discuss is money. I usually find out what the client is looking for from me, the exclusivity of the photos, the duration of tour, and what the original budget is. Once all of that is considered, I start negotiations on a rate. I’m sure people want to know how much I make, especially from a photographer’s point of view. They want to aspire to make the big money doing the work they love. I’m lucky to be making what I make, and I do very well, especially with so many people out of work, but I work f**king hard to do the best job I can. There are sleepless nights, and months of being away from my loved ones. I know it’s definitely not like being in the military, but it’s hard sometimes.

PP: Do tabloids and other publications ever offer to pay you for photos from your inside point of view?

ML: Oh, they have alright, and they’ve offered me obscene amounts per photo, but I’m not a paparrazzi, and I don’t betray trust. Even working with Katy I remember early on in her career Spin Magazine contacted about the use of a photo in the magazine. I was stoked until I heard the title of the article was “Why I hate Katy Perry.” To have a one-page photo in a national magazine is one thing, but to sell out for a little bit of notoriety is another. Justin and I are not only professional colleagues, but we have become friends and to throw that away over money is never worth it. Also, I have gone on to work with many other well known musicians as a result of my work with Justin and it wouldn’t be good press if I was known as a photographer who was known for selling private moments to s**tty grocery store magazines.

PP: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in concert photography?

ML: I’ve learned to become less obvious. There have been so many shows that I’ve done where I noticed 10 photographers going for the same shot. What I’ve learned to do is to step back and take the less obvious shot. I’ve always liked this result. That, and always remember to have a backup battery… maybe two. Trust me.

PP: What advice do you have for photographers looking to follow in your footsteps?

ML: I can’t stress enough the importance of good networking and a strong social media presence, especially nowadays. But, the most important thing and the first thing you have to do is to master is your image. You can know everyone, have thousands of media followers, but if your photos are boring, dull, and uninteresting, people won’t hire you.

PP: Anything else you’d like to say to PetaPixel readers?

ML: I know I will get a lot of hate for this. People will hate me because I work for Bieber. People will hate me just because they hate the kid. People will hate me over the “way I hold a camera.” People will hate on me because I use Canon gear (seriously, it’s the most pathetic thing). Any photographer, any photographer would kill to be in my position and if he says he wouldn’t, he is blatantly lying. I’m documenting someone who’s making history.

Ready for the hate on this one? It’s almost like touring with the Beatles; working your way through thousands of fans on the street like A Hard Day’s Night and being the only photographer in a 30,000 seat venue is thrilling. I mean, yeah, I would love to tour with some of my favorite bands. I would absolutely love to be on the road with Kings of Leon or Bloc Party, but I got hooked up with shooting possibly the most famous person on the planet right now. Would any of you say no? Really think about it. I can’t stand Lady Gaga, but if someone offered me the chance to do a US tour, I’d jump at the chance without any hesitation. I know the whole indie aspect of touring with lesser known bands may make for better “art,” but sometimes you can make incredible art and get paid very well to do so.

I think a lot of other negativity comes from me not going to school for photography. I majored in History, received my BA from St. John’s University, and never took a class in photography… which means that I never learned the rules to anything. In art there are no rules, and that would have to be my biggest piece of advice to anyone. Work outside of the rules to create a body of work regardless of how everybody else was taught to do so. The reason agencies hire me isn’t because I hold my camera correctly (I don’t, anyway). They hire me because I’ve created a brand in my work, and I make people feel something when they look at my photos. If you don’t like what I do, fine, but instead of bashing what I do and who I am or who I work for, I challenge you to go out and try to be better. Strive to be better. I guarantee you’ll get my attention then.


Image credits: Photograph of Lerner and Bieber by Lloyd Bishop. All other photos by Mike Lerner.


 
 
  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se/ Erik Lauri Kulo

    I’m not going to give him hate, but I will say that it was just as “pathetic” of him to look down on those who consider following indie bands for the sake of, in their opinions, better pictures as it is of other people to look down on him for following Justin Bieber.

    And what’s all this talk about money? Money can’t buy a great photographer.

  • aebrett

    I was really enjoying this article up until the last couple of paragraphs. Whilst I’m still not “hating on” Mr. Lerner, quotes like this seem to suggest an incredible degree of ignorance and self-absorption:

    “Any photographer, *any photographer* would kill to be in my position and if he says he wouldn’t, he is blatantly lying.”

    There are a huge number of reasons why a photographer wouldn’t want to be in his position (the months spent away from loved ones is just one); to suggest that anyone who disagrees with his assertion is a liar is deeply insulting to those who don’t share his priorities.

  • http://www.petapixel.com Michael Zhang

    Not imaginary. Check out the responses we got when we put out a request for questions yesterday on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151075176598124&set=a.10150981250283124.411504.181819638123&type=1

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    Hey Aebrett. Trust me, I am not the self absorbed type. What I was trying to get across was the fact that any professional photojournalist would kill to go on a national/world tour with a major recording artist. Those photos could one day possibly become iconic.

    I’ve asked EVERY one of my photographer friends, at least 20 people, if they’d want to be in my position and all of them without hesitation said, yes. It’s like being in the big leagues for sports having played in the minors for years.

    Anyway I hope you at least enjoyed the article and some of the pictures!

  • Wallerus

    SureShot 65 was my first camera, excellent choice! good article for an aspiring band photographer like myself.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/thelonelylights Adam Cross


    I can’t stand Lady Gaga, but if someone offered me the chance to do a US tour, I’d jump at the chance without any hesitation.” … I think you just lost that job :P

  • Guest

    just out of interest: are all of the people you asked working in the same field (i.e. event/concert/celebrity photography)? if so, it is logical that they’d say that. but ask maybe a bird photog or a landscape photog, chances are, that they wouldn’t say the same thing.

    i for example wouldn’t want your job for several reasons, the main ones being that i don’t like biebers music (not saying that i don’t like him – i don’t know him) and i don’t like this kind of photography.

    also, i don’t believe, that a concert photo would become iconic (@petapixel:disqus might be a nice post: “the most iconic concert photos”… ;)) – at least i don’t know any

  • http://twitter.com/MrBudJohnson Bud Johnson

    What a cool article. Mike, you’re my hero.

    Peta pixel cranks out some serious content – I REALLY like the interviews like this.
    This is the kind of stuff I day dream about at my desk job.

    Should you ever find your way to Richmond, VA, Mike – supper’s on me – let me pick your brain!

  • http://twitter.com/MrBudJohnson Bud Johnson

    whoa whoa whoa – AND a Ron Paul Supporter. I think I’m more interested to know if you’ve ever had a liberty-centered conversation with Justin now, lol.

  • Mansgame

    Maybe you can hit up Biebs for a camera that can take pictures in color…One of the pics almost looks like it has color not quite. Perhaps it’s a sensor error.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    Haha you’d be surprised at some of the political conversations the crew and I have had. Thanks Bud!

  • kelli miller holmes

    Well done. When you need a second shooter, I’m your gal ;)

  • http://twitter.com/artistxposure Allen Ross Thomas

    Nice Interview. Seems Mike got a nice break and has made the most of it. What strikes me most (as with all celebrity photographers) is the frequent mention of “trust” established with an artist. Good job Mike. Stay Humble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730557440 Ellis Vener

    What I learned from thsi article:
    1) real world face to face “networking” is the most important part of getting into position to be a successful business person.

    2) Once you are in that position trust is the most valuable asset you have.

    Best wishes to you Mr. Lerner.

  • Mansgame

    We might take his “achievements” more seriously if he posted pictures that weren’t out of focus, cutting off people’s legs, or otherwise uninteresting. Just sayin’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xsportseeker Renato Murakami

    I’ll have to with aebrett partially on that one.
    Not that I don’t understand what Mike is trying to tell – that he’ll get lots of random hate because of this. He will, just because this is an interview on the Internet. And I think he has some good points to share, but being this defensive of the whole thing won’t ease things.
    Assuming any photographer would want to be in his position is assuming too much. No matter if friends tell you they want to be in your position, photography has tons of different areas with plenty of people who don’t really want to be Justin Bieber’s photographer or any sort of backstage photographer (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
    Studio photography, landscape photography, even stuff with close relation like fashion photography and some others are different beasts.
    You have to really like and enjoy the routine of backstage photography to want to work with it. You gotta have some chemistry.
    Seriously, I know a bunch of photographers who wouldn’t want to be in Mike’s place no matter how much people paid for it.
    Not to mention the different styles of photography that different genres of music would have. Me? I’d love to one day shoot orchestras and maybe theater… I’d hate to be stuck on tour with any band (even the ones I love) though. Just not my style. And career wise, it wouldn’t add much to my experience as it’s not the style of photography I want to shoot.I do agree to a point that photography is done by working on it. But people shouldn’t dismiss technique just because.
    You can do a lot learning yourself and just going ahead and taking pics, but recently I’ve been hearing too much of “just take the camera and go”.And I’ve seen it happening a lot: a bunch of people with dSLRs taking crap pics because they don’t see value in learning the rules. If you don’t know the rules, you can’t break them in a way that’s appealing. That’s the point.
    I also think not having a formal education on photography doesn’t make you less of a photographer, but I also won’t count it as an advantage or something to be proud of.
    Having a great subject to work with makes things easier on the technical part, you can’t deny that. But once the gig is over and you have to turn to more regular work, this is when the lack of formal education will catch you – it gives you flexibility and enables you to work with all sorts of situations.
    Of course, if your intention is to keep working only on backstage photography or photography with celebrities, the hardcore techniques could be less important. But this isn’t valid for all sorts of photography. And back to flexibility, I think it’s always good to have a big set of abilities so you don’t get tied to one style alone.

  • http://twitter.com/MrBudJohnson Bud Johnson

    I had the opportunity to be the exclusive photographer for a Ron Paul event in Virginia this year. The nerves were pretty high, but something in me kicked into auto-mode and I got some once-in-a-lifetime shots, and networked like crazy. I think every politician and their family members had my card in their hand by the end of the night.
    I can only imagine those first gigs with Justin.

  • Stephen33

    Wow. This is the perfect example of someone who would be better served by keeping his mouth shut and letting his work stand by itself. The Bieber images are fine. The access is far more interesting that the work.

    If you think the last two paragraphs are off-putting – check out his tumblr and twitter to see how he interacts with people. http://mikelernerphotography.tumblr.com/post/30804504944/is-it-really-necessary-for-you-to-be-such-a-dick-to
    One day in the future, when Bieber’s tours are long over, Mike will sit down and realize that his arrogance has cost him a good bit of money.

  • http://twitter.com/tempusrob Robert Paul

    Hi Mike … you seem to jump from “I liked this guys music photos” to “shooting The Bravery at T5″ in the span of a month. How on earth did you make this happen? I have a small-ish but solid portfolio of smaller local/regional acts but have been struggling to step up to bigger venues/acts. What steps did you take that I’m missing here?

  • gharadmin

    What matters is the people he is shooting for like his work and trust him! Mike is in a situation where he can afford to experiment and have little gear with him. That trust gives him the freedom to shoot from wherever he wants and get the shots that others cannot.

    In the world of concert photography being the official photographer is quite a gift. Shooting the first 3 is a rat race. Having the creative flexibility of going on tour and having all access is a concert photographers dream realized.

    Networking and Relationships. Have an open mind an you will be surprised what doors will open for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomixyz Tomi Tarkin

    seems like a mediocre snapshot artist of a brat who just got a lucky break.. i’d probably do that for the money a little while to bail myself into moderate economical independence, perhaps.. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/osnap.clickclick Osnap ClickClick

    I think this interview was pretty dope. Mike Lerner traveled a path all his own to get to where he is. After reading so many blog interviews about people who went to Ivy League schools and have had *this* fellowship and *that* gallery showing..it’s nice to see someone who “got in” differently and is successful. I can totally relate to his story and hope to be in a similar position sooner than later. Most of all the, I really appreciate the knowledge that he freely gives. Some photogs act as though they’ve been able to read some holy grail that has all the answers and they couldn’t possible share that knowledge..Mike Lerner put it all out there for us…so seriously- relax with all the criticism..

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.madore.3 Jeremy Madore

    Just chiming in about the RP2012 stuff – I was hired to photograph the Maine tour. Was quite fun… helped that my dad was the Maine chairman… :)

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    very well thought perspective. Hope you enjoyed the interview!

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    Hi Robert. Myspace back in those days was key. I contacted the bands mgmt (iI found their email on their myspace page) and asked for access to the show, and I got it.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    I’d love to do that!

  • Nobody

    Are most of his photos out of focus on purpose?

  • Trey Campbell

    Gosh I hate to be a hater but does this guy know how to focus? And that one that he said was his all time favorite….seriously??? I hate to sound cocky, but I can sh*t better photos than that in the first 3 songs of a show.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    what’s everyone’s fascination with feet in the photos? honestly.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    let’s see them

  • olafs_osh

    dude, don’t get delirious here, heh.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    how so? he asked for iconic concert photos. here there are

  • Mansgame

    Too bad he didn’t ask the photographer next to him about how to focus and/or use a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blurring. I thought only his Bieber pictures were out of focus but every picture on that Tumbler picture is out of focus.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    every single one. on purpose

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    I like them. You’ve got a great eye for landscape!

  • Nobody

    Why?

  • Trey Campbell

    well did you look at the concert photos or just the landscapes?

  • Jake

    Well Trey, you’ve got some good photos, but I can’t help but notice that all your album covers are basically the same. At least Lerner’s showing us some diversity.

  • Nobody

    Has nothing to do with feet, has everything to do with your photos are incredibly mediocre and some of them downright bad and painfully out of focus. Just goes to show it’s who you know, not what you know.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    are you not looking at my website? I didn’t even pick the photos for this article, but I still stand by them. The second one was taken with a Kiev60 mf film camera. There was little light so I had the shutter at maybe 1/50 and may have moved a touch, but I loved the result. Personal preference, I’m sorry you don’t like it.

  • Trey Campbell

    you do have a point

  • http://www.blackjustinebeiber.com/ Black Justin Beiber

    I would love to be in Lerner’s position or any once in a lifetime photo opportunity except for wedding photography. Shoot me in the head if I have to resort to wedding photography to make a living.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    I looked at your flickr and looked at everything. At least you have the guts to put your work up, and I respect that.

  • Jamie

    I’m in the same boat as Jake. The concert shots are crisp and well done from a technical standpoint, but feel interchangeable. Each one of them is doing the same thing the same way, and evokes one thing: Someone is rocking out on the stage.

    Comparing them to Mike’s favourite shot, with the back of Justin combined with his gaze on the big screen… I get way more of an impact from Mike’s. They are unique, they are different. Some of that comes from being blurry or cropped oddly, but most of it comes from what was captured. He is getting unique moments and unique perspectives that I haven’t seen before. A lot of that is resulting from the access he gets, but with a lot of these shots, I don’t like them because it’s Justin Bieber, I like them because of how they’re laid out in a way I’m not used to.

    I’m in agreement that your landscape shots are great. It’s not that your concert shots aren’t, but I don’t see anything in them that I haven’t seen in many others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002308876632 Xenter Fold

    lolz. i like your humor man. lolz another reason why you’re the one getting paid. keep it up

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002308876632 Xenter Fold

    Trust. Got it. Network. Got that too. Work hard. Absolutely. Lots of batteries. Yes. Aaaaannndd.. Know when NOT to take photos. All checked

  • Trey Campbell

    good critique. I do try to be technically perfect and maybe that’s why I’ve rarely been called “artsy”.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeTakesStills Mike Lerner

    @50bc826636018d77e6676d40c5acc010:disqus @ecd0f54672d940d9f19819ff42032d2b:disqus Jamie, thanks for the critique as your point what I’ve been trying to express to people all along.

    Trey remember I’ve been shooting concerts for 5 years and I had a flickr portfolio very similar to yours. I saw that so many of the photos looked similar, so I stepped away from getting those in your typical in your face, perfect lighting photos, and started to crop photos “oddly” or getting a different perspective.

    I’m not doing for the sake of being called “artsy” but I liked the results as it was something different. AND the great thing was that my clients enjoyed the newer work to the old stuff.

    You have to constantly be changing how you approach photography.

  • http://twitter.com/TheCarAddict Lisa TheCarAddict

    Great Article, nice Photos!!

  • ietion

    What i like about mike is that he shares what he learns, he is open to talk to and he loves what he does in photography. And those are things I really like in a photographer. Its just like how with a singer you care about how he looks, what his/her attitude is, as well as his songs to like or not the end result. His pics might be different from what i would shoot maybe, but that i find very interesting. I am keeping his advice and style as i think can influence me in being a more interesting photographer.