“Sometimes, when I shoot…the result is due to chance; I wait for a special effect in a specific place in burst mode and fingers crossed,” says Thibault Maestracci about how he captures his best concert photography. “For me, concert photography is not only a portrait of an artist on stage its also a report of the instant, the ambiance with the lights, and the audience. Of course, this approach is very feeling-driven.” He continues to state that the moment and the music give him the idea, and then he does his best to capture it quickly.
This is the second time we’re featuring Thibault. We previously did so in our old black and white e-zine, La Noir Image, which now lives in The Phoblographer’s archives. He started his career as a sound engineer with various French artists. In his free time, he started taking his camera with him to take photos of the crew and everyone around. Eventually, his artistic skills transferred over to capturing great moments during a concert.
More than ever, Thibault’s best concert photography conveys a sense of mysticism akin to a book that gets better with every reading. Yet his photos also lean towards simplicity, which is part of why he loves black and white so much.
Years ago, Thibault shared with us that he shoots using a Sony a7 II and an Asahi Takumar 85mm lens. This combination of using vintage and modern gear together helps him get his look. It’s a fairly common process, too! Look at the work of various YouTubers masquerading as photographers and you’ll see a lot of film-inspired looks. It surely puts a smile on every single couple getting married across America. Nostalgia is an undeniably great thing in photography as it constantly brings us back to better times. Stuffing those emotions into images as a single layer truly helps us earn that double tap on social platforms.
Concert photography is very feeling-driven. For starters, when you look at a scene in front of you, it’s lit and staged with the intent to give you a larger-than-life experience. So capturing that on camera is sometimes tough to do while also focusing on critical elements. That’s part of the reason why Thibault tells us he loves black and white photography. “BW could make the picture easier, more understandable,” he explains. “but not all the time; colors tell stories too.”
Admittedly, he also states that sometimes the LED lights are just not so great; so converting to black and white can save the image. For years this was a stigma in the photo industry that has gone the way of the fax machine. Today, it’s understandable that the colors in a scene aren’t necessarily important. So when they don’t matter, why have them to begin with?
So what’s Thibault’s process like?
- First, he removed images that are out of focus. But he also removes photos from the queue that are just not suiting his technical or artistic tastes.
- Then he applies his custom presets as a starting point. If he doesn’t like that, he edits from scratch. He looks for edits that bring out the details and works to further refine those adjustments.
And sometimes, he’s just given a good surprise.
All images by Thibault Maestracci. Used with permission. This interview has been edited for better grammatical English. Be sure to visit Thibault’s website and Instagram to see more. Want to get featured? Click here to see how.