Life Behind the Lens: Q&A with your favorite local show photographers

When the the words “local music scene” are said, it’s safe to say musicians are the first to come to mind. Musicians are found at the center of the local scene, and rightly so. Countless photos are shared multiple times through social media sites, featuring vocalists accompanied by a crowd of energetic fans screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs. All of these memories, all of these shows are documented through photos, giving fans the chance to look back and reminisce.

But how often do we think about who’s behind the lens? Who’s utilizing their talent and passion to record these memories? Here’s a closer look behind the lens with three of the best local show photographers Indiana has to offer: Errick Easterday, Skip Zhang, and Kels Alonzo.

#WEAPONOFCHOICE

  • Kels Alonzo: Canon T3I
  • Skip Zhang: Canon 600D
  • Errick Easterday: Nikon D7000

Tell me the story of how you discovered your passion of photography.

Zhang: I went to a local show with my camera one day and took some photos just for fun and I posted them on my micro-Blog (Chinese version of twitter) afterwards. Then the bands found it and told me they like the shots. And from then on, I almost bring my camera to shows with me every time. I made a lot of friends through shooting the scene and it is really enjoyable shooting the bands that I like. I really love going to shows and it makes me feel refreshed, and I really love to record what I experienced in the scene. The passion I have for shooting the scene definitely comes from the passion I have for the music scene.

Easterday: I’ve always thought photography was cool, I used to buy books about it when I was a kid, but I never really messed with a camera until high school. I took a multi-communication tools course that had a 2 week section in photography. After my teacher told me that my work was some of, if not the best work he’s seen at my level, I decided to take it to the next step and bought a Nikon D3000 +some lenses from a friend for like $300. It’s all been uphill from there.

Alonzo: Honestly, it all started when I got my DSLR close to 2 years ago. I got it mainly for video, but I found photography was a lot of fun, so from there on I started taking pictures for my friend’s band, and bam. Here I am.

Lionheart. Photo by Kelsie Lunsford.
Rob Watson of Lionheart at Grandbar, Chicago, Ill. April 20, 2015. Photo by Kels Alonzo.

What other types of photography do you enjoy?

Zhang: I actually take photos for a lot of things, every element in my life. I like shooting my road trip especially because on a trip I am always seeing different beautiful things. I simply want to capture every beautiful things in my life.

Easterday: Aside from live music, I really enjoy outdoor portraits. I do a lot of weird, experimental stuff in my own time, and I’d love to move into some boudoir work.

Alonzo: I mostly just do band photography, but I like doing portraits and city pictures. There’s so much to photography and the emotion shown in pictures just flows. I don’t know, it’s an art in itself.


How long have you been a photographer/show photographer?

Zhang: I have been taking photos for a while, but I have been editing my shots for no more than a year.

Easterday: I would say about 2 years now.

Alonzo: Show photographer for about 8 months. Film & regular photographer for 3 years.


How do you believe you’ve improved since you’ve started taking photos?

Zhang: I just simply feel that they look better. Sometimes when I look back to my shots I shoot a long while ago, I find them looking awful (laughs).

Easterday: So many ways. From learning more about my camera, to new techniques, and then just recently upgrading all of my gear.

Alonzo: I’ve improved like crazy. I never knew how to use the settings on my camera until recently. In October, I was just kind of throwing wild cards hoping my pictures would turn out good. About 2 months ago, I figured out how to set the right aperture, F-stop, shutter speed.. Its a little embarrassing, but hey, it’s a huge improvement and everyone I’ve shot for totally sees the improvement.

Suicide Silence at Emerson Theater, Indianapolis, Ind. March 4, 2015. Photo by Skip Zhang.
Eddie Hermida of Suicide Silence at Emerson Theater, Indianapolis, Ind. March 4, 2015. Photo by Skip Zhang.

Who’s your favorite band that you’ve photographed?

Zhang: I think my favorite band that I have photographed goes to Chipped Teeth. They are just an awesome band, they make super cool music and they are so passionate every time they are playing their set. They are the band that helped me get involved in the local scenes and I am always grateful about that. Another band I want to mention is the Chinese hardcore legend King Ly Chee. I haven’t really shot their shows but I edited some of the photos my friends shot for them. They are the band that opened the door of Hardcore for me and they make amazing music. They are now working on a project called Unite Asia and gathers information about the punk/hardcore/metal scenes in Asia. That’s a cool website and every article worth a glance. Moreover, both these two bands show great positive mental attitude and inspired me a lot.

Easterday: Code Orange, hands down. Never has a band been so photogenic. I haven’t gotten to shoot them with all of my new gear yet, so I’m patiently awaiting their return. There are a few locals that come in at a close second.

Alonzo: I shoot The Truth at literally every show they play because Nate Cox asked me in October to shoot his band. He knew I had a camera, but I had no experience before with shooting shows. Also, Lionheart was another. I shot them once after I figured out how to use my settings on my camera the right way, and the pictures came out awesome. They’re also in my top five favorite bands of all time, so shooting their pictures at one show made me feel so confident in myself. I also got a hug from Lionheart’s guitarist.


Who’s the most popular/biggest band that you’ve photographed?

Zhang: The most popular band I have shot is Suicide Silence; their set was amazing.

Easterday: I’ve shot Senses Fail and The Contortionist in a slightly more professional setting recently. Other than that, I’ve shot Code Orange, H20, and I get to shoot Knocked Loose pretty often.

Alonzo: The biggest bands I’ve shot are Every Time I Die and Lionheart. Those pictures came out amazing and are my favorite ones to date.

Eric Balderose of Code Orange at New Albany Production House, New Albany, Ind. March 14, 2015. Photo by Errick Easterday.
Eric Balderose of Code Orange at New Albany Production House, New Albany, Ind. March 14, 2015. Photo by Errick Easterday.

Any funny stories to share of when you were taking photos?

Zhang: I am always getting help and inspired by amazing photographers around me. Errick and Nick are two perfect examples, they both take amazing shots. Errick just starts his photography business and he is asking for a price which is definitely worthy.

Easterday: I just love when big, tough dudes in hardcore bands start laughing and getting all embarrassed when you put a camera in front of them.

Alonzo: Chelsea was here to see this, so hopefully when she writes this she gets a good laugh. I went to my first show in Muncie, and it was in a basement. I went to go and shoot some pictures of the Truth, and as soon as their set started, I got pushed so hard I fell into the guy’s sound system. My camera was safe, but my leg was bleeding. I got some cool shots at least!


What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a hobby/career in photography?

Zhang: For those who are interested in photography, I would suggest them to just love what they do and do what they love, don’t take things too serious or you won’t have fun. There are tons of people taking better shots than me and you so just try to learn, the efforts will pay back finally.

Easterday: Anyone can do photography as a hobby, it’s fun and very rewarding, but I can say as someone building a career out of it, it’s a difficult journey. Even now, two years into it, I have people walk away without paying me, telling me my profession doesn’t deserve payment, and it’s difficult to book well paying clients. That on top of editing hundreds of pictures at a time can get pretty stressful, but I love it. If you love something, live with it.

Alonzo: It’s so much fun, and you meet so many amazing and talented people along the way. I’ve made so many friends because of this, and I’ve improved immensely. It’s also huge confidence booster when I see stuff I shot as someone’s profile picture.


Anything else you would like to add?

Zhang: I was born and raised in China, so I am actually involved in music scenes in two completely different cultures. Music is like the bridge that connects different cultures, though people speak different languages and have different lifestyles, but the music have the same breakdowns and singalongs. It is great that I can find something familiar in a completely different culture which makes me feel at home. I am always grateful to those who helped me and those I met in the music scenes, they are the ones who make me a better person.

Easterday: Catch me on tour all of July and August with Church Tongue. Favorite photographers/shout outs: Freddie Ross, Maclyn Bean, Donzor, Eric Reid, Alissa Brunelli, Smileyfacemode, Doodle Shots, Andrew Garland, Vince Dwyer, CDO, Nick Souza, Dylan Luder, Ethan Bielik, Mark Valentino, Taylor Rambo, Carolyn Ambriano, Jeremy Keeney, Skip Zhang, Nick Brock, Austin Trevor Murray, Tyler Priola & Kels Alonzo.


Written by Chelsea Renee Scofield

Photos provided by Errick Easterday, Kels Alonzo, & Skip Zhang.

Check out their portfolios for more awesome shots!

Easterdaily (Errick Easterday)

KLHC Photography (Kels Alonzo)

Skip Zhang

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