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How a Chance Encounter Helped Launch My Concert Photography Career

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

I was a month and a half into the photography program at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver when I decided to skip school for a day for a concert. I had a ticket to see Mumford & Sons playing in Laramie, Wyoming, before they hit Red Rocks in Colorado.

At the time, I was already contemplating dropping out of school, due to feeling that I would never be good enough to make it in the photography world, and would just be wasting time and money.

On the way to a local coffee shop, I stopped by the newsstand and picked up a photography magazine that had an article about concert photography. Upon arriving at the coffee shop, I got to the second paragraph in the article, which started off with this statement: “When starting out, you won’t be shooting the top-name acts”.

At that moment, an odd-looking box-shaped camera with two lenses caught my eye as it sat on a table across the room. Walking up to the man and woman sitting with the camera, I asked them what it was. The man started to talk in a British accent and handed me the camera explaining how it worked.

He then asked me if I was interested in photography, to which I replied that I was. He introduced me to his girlfriend and said his name was Ted Dwane. We talked a little longer, and then at some point I asked him what brought him to Wyoming.

He replied that he was the bassist in Mumford & Sons.

It turns out Ted is a lover of photography and used to regularly post his photos to a photography blog on the Mumford & Sons website. He invited me to come shoot their concert, which I did. I wasn’t very skilled at using my camera yet, so I completely failed at shooting the show (I wasn’t able to get any good shots of Ted). But the whole thing turned out to be an amazing experience.

After the show, I ran into Ted again at a bar, so I took the opportunity to show him my pictures. “They’re quite good,” he told me.

Mumford and Sons-2

Mumford and Sons-3

Mumford_and_Sons-1

Mumford_and_Sons-2

I personally thought my pictures were horrible, but even though the pictures were not the greatest, I made the decision to stay in school and get better because of the opportunity Ted had given me.

A few months later, a few friends that shoot concerts for Clear Channel see my Mumford & Sons pictures. They explain that their boss is looking for another person to shoot shows, and then tell me to send an email with my concert photos. I send the email, and soon find that I have been assigned to shoot Black Rebel Motorcycle Club a couple of days later as a tryout.

Shooting that show went well, and I subsequently began getting more assignments for shooting concerts. The next thing I know, I’m getting assigned to shoot all of my favorite acts — bands and artists such as Fitz and the Tantrums, The Lumineers, Steve Aoki, Muse, Cage the Elephant, Nine Inch Nails, Blink-182, and Jay-Z. And this was all within eight months after my chance encounter with Ted!

Muse
Muse
Muse
Muse
Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Paramore
Paramore
Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Steve Aoki
Steve Aoki
Steve Aoki
Steve Aoki
Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes
Jay-Z
Jay-Z
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop

If it wasn’t for my chance encounter with Ted, I probably would have hung up my camera and never discovered the love for concert photography. And then I think back to that quote I read on that fateful day: “When starting out, you won’t be shooting the top-name acts.” Thanks for proving that article wrong Ted!


About the author: Jason Pendleton is a photographer from Wyoming who’s currently studying photography at the Art Institute of Colorado. You can visit his website here and see more of his concert photos here.

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