With so many music photographers and live show photographers out there these days it can be hard to cut through the noise. It's mentioned in the interview below, that everyone is a photographer now, with their phones capturing quality images, we live in the most visually communicative time in history. Music photography, and tour photography specifically isn't a new thing, and there are plenty of places to look for inspiration. Some of the most iconic music photos come from this setting, with bands more relaxed back stage or on the road in a van, these photos give us a glimpse into a less seen side of an artists life.
We recently caught up with Dietrich Gunther who's been focused mainly on photographing the scene in Clemson surrounding the Pablo Generation and more specifically Tom Angst. He does branch out beyond those and we've featured some of those photos here.
How did you get into music photography, and more specifically tour photography?
I’ve been going to concerts and shows since age 11. I was introduced to music at a very young age. Since then I've constantly surrounded myself with musicians, music scenes/organizations and a lot of concerts. I knew that I wanted a way to get involved with music. One day I was thinking how there are so many bands or musicians with endless talent, or have that unique sound that the present day needs. I wanted to promote these bands that I thought needed more recognition, so I bought a camera to start shooting shows. I had to realize that nowadays, everyone is a photographer, especially with social media. I realized that to be very proficient in a certain style of photography, I forced myself to only practice my specific area of photography I wanted to thrive at, even though other styles interest me. “Tour photography” came from when I was thinking about things I love (music) and how to possibly make a career out of it. I thought that I wanted to really capture great pictures or moments from a concert. These pictures would be for each specific band to fit their style. I just want to see talent thrive and be recognized.
Do you have a goal on specific shots you're looking for or do you kind of just wait on moments to happen?
I absolutely have my specific shots I’m looking for as a photographer. I have my certain planned perspectives and impressions I want my photos to give to the viewer. Depending on the venue or band, I will know which angle I want to work with for that night. I will say despite that, unplanned moments creates them into captivating moments for you as a photographer. In one of my favorite pictures, has an unplanned moments that I’m going to show you was at the December Pablo event. I just walked back into the show and this person was crowd-surfing during a set and that unexpected moment gave me one heck of a shot.
How did you develop your style of photography? Do you feel like it took a long time? Is still developing? Or do you feel like you're kind of where you want to be?
I developed my style by trying to get decent at photography first. I first started on getting decent over the last 2 years and then once I felt like I was comfortable with what I got, I could develop my own uniqueness to my pictures. I think it took a necessary amount of time. Gave me a good balance to work on my research on photography and while continuously going to concerts and practicing my skills. It is definitely still developing I think. I know my style, but getting the cleanest I can get is my next step to getting better at my style. I am where I want to be, but constantly learning and developing my knowledge on photography is key as well.
Were there or are there any specific photographers who you look to for inspiration, or maybe not so much inspiration, but you admire what they're doing and they're style?
I am highly inspired by a couple of photographers and it kind of encapsulates how I want my style to be. The first photographer is probably the photographer for Cage the Elephant @citizenkanewayne. His pictures and lighting really put you at the show. His pictures to me never feel like a 3rd person experience, more of how it would be if I was there and my eyes were the camera. My second is @thejamesadams. He is an Australian photographer that I really admired his shots of certain musicians and bands I saw here that were from Australia (Sticky Fingers and Bootleg Rascal). I recognized his incredible vintage look he has to all his photos. Lastly, @sambrumby_ . He is another Australian photographer and I can’t exaggerate what he does enough. He produces some of the crispest and cleanest photos I’ve ever seen. He could take a picture of anything and make it a brilliant picture. My style is my attempt on these three aspects. I want my pictures to have a vintage look to it that puts you in the place of wherever it is that picture is at. Finally, having it just be the cleanest I can get it based off color and light.
You got kind of lucky to be surrounded by some really great subjects with Tom Angst and the Pablo Generation. How did you come into that whole scene?
I actually had just moved here in august to SC and the south for the first time (I grew up and am from Belmont, CA, spent a lot of time shooting concerts in Denver and then moved here). I was looking for where to find music and one day a band that I had listened to and really enjoyed (Boyscott) was coming to Clemson to play and I knew that was pretty close to me. Did some research and I found out that they were playing at a house show. Decided it would be worth looking awkward at this house solo, so I could see some good music. Then, I got totally sideswiped by all these great bands that were playing there. I thought, “Where did all this come from? Some college house?” I had just never experienced anything like that community they have there at Pablo. Great ears for talent and bringing people together that like music. But, after that show there was one band that blew me away and that was “Tom Angst”. I knew I wanted to see them again live to get more pics, but to also listen to them again. Kept going to more shows and eventually I think they realized I had no friends and they said to come to their next show to take pics. Since then, I’ve been not only able to listen to great music, but hang out with some of the kindest people I’ve met.