Metal Photographer Jeremy Saffer Reveals His All-Time Favorite Show
Give us a brief bio. How did you decide you wanted to be a music photographer?
Basically, since I was young I wanted to be a rock star, and I grew up playing a slew of instruments -- namely guitar while worshiping Metallica. I started playing in bands and bringing my camera with me to shows, and even bringing a camera to shows I wasn't playing. Eventually a promoter, Scott Lee, got wind of this and asked me to photograph his shows, and in time that snowballed into me working with MassConcerts, The Palladium, etc.
When I was ready for college, I went to Berklee School of Music and hated it! They are all jazz Nazis there, and I was a metal kid. So lingering in indecision, Scott told me to do what I liked doing, which was shooting. I put down the guitar, picked up the camera full-time, and since then have been shooting non-stop. I also shoot for many labels and music equipment companies.
Do you have a philosophy for shooting live? What do you look to capture with your photos?
Every show is its own animal. You never know what the lighting is going to be like, what the conditions are going to be, such as first three songs with no flash, if you can shoot the whole set and use flash ... For me, i always try to blend my own lighting (a flash) with the stage lighting to capture a scene. I don't feel that taking shots without flash is much more than shooting what's already handed to you. I like controlling my environment the best I can and always try to show the most character of the band.
What other stuff do you shoot besides bands and shows?
I mostly shoot band session work: group photos, endorsement photos. Aside from music photography, I also dabble in fine art photography and have done some weddings for friends, like Mat Bruso who was in Bury Your Dead and Matt Deis of CKY. But 90 percent of what I do is music photography.
Any favorite shows that you've shot?
My all-time favorite show, ever, has to be the Earth Crisis reunion in Maryland 2007. There are few words to describe that show, but 'the best' is absolutely the word for it. No other show had as much fury, emotion and energy behind it. And in my career, I've easily shot over 1,000 shows.
Any advice for aspiring photogs?
Always keep shooting. Don't get discouraged and keep experimenting. Know what you want to get...and get it!
What are some of your other interests?
I'm a huge nerd. When I'm not shooting, I'm playing video games, collecting horror/Halloween stuff and watching movies. I am one of those collector people. I have thousands of DVDs, CDs and I collect vinyl, horror/McFarlane figures. I just gotta stay nerdy.
Lastly, how is life in New England these days for concerts?
New England is great for shows. All that needs to be said is I live in Massachusetts, home of some of the greatest metal bands on the planet, the greatest venue on the planet, with the greatest festival on the planet. The New England Hardcore and Metal Festival has become a staple show every year for bands to showcase and use as a launching pad for their career, and I've been there to shoot it the whole time.