Editor Feature: Top Photos of 2015

I have been photographing concerts for about 5/6 years now and I never went through all my photos at the end of the year to do a “Top Photos of the Year” type thing. But in 2015, I went outside of JUST concert photography and did more portrait shoots, behind the scenes photos, etc. and learned a lot about photography than I had in previous years so I wanted to put together a photo compilation of my favorite LIVE shots of 2015.

This project is super biased, as I chose mostly artists that I like, versus picking a photo based on how good it was. I have amazing photographs of Kings of Leon but I would never include them in “my top photos” list just because I don’t like their music. So with that being said…

My Favorite Photos of 2015 (In no particular order)


1. AFI opening up for Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars

Anyone that knows me knows that AFI has been my favorite band for many years. I actually started photography and my website for a chance to one day photograph them. I was really excited for this shoot because they were an opening band in an outdoor venue which meant that there wouldn’t be a bunch of bad lighting getting in the way of a great shot. This ended up being one of my least favorite shoots that I had ever done- mainly because of the venue + their staff and I pledged to never shoot a concert at that venue again. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite shots I have ever taken of Davey.

Cage the Elephant 2-2

2. Cage the Elephant
If you listen to Cage the Elephant on the radio, you would probably imagine their concert to be pretty mellow, as their music isn’t very heavy. But Cage the Elephant always put on such an energetic performance and they are one of my favorite bands to photograph. It seemed like every few seconds, one of the members was stage diving or laying on top of the crowd.

Crown the Empire VS-91


3. Crown the Empire- Prisoners of War music video shoot

I was really excited to be asked to do some behind the scenes photographs for my friend, Jensen Noen (Check him out- he is an amazing director) at the Crown the Empire music video shoot because I have photographed this band for the passed couple of years. I did a several photo shoots with them and they’ve always been really cool guys. This was one of my first times at a music video shoot and it was a really memorable experience, hanging out with the band and crew for close to 12 hours. I have hundreds of posed shots of the band from that day but I have always liked this shot for the behind the scenes focus of it.

Die Antwoord


4. Die Antwoord- Festival Supreme
I have been wanting to photograph Die Antwoord forEVER and had never had the chance until a friend asked if I wanted to buy some tickets off of her for this event. I checked out the line-up and freaked out that I didn’t realize Die Antwoord would be in LA (they are originally from South Africa and aren’t here often). I got approved to photograph the show and waited around 8 hours (It was an all day festival with bands before them) just to see them. The photo-pit was packed with photographers and the lighting plus the artist’s constant movement made it hard to get a good shot but after the three songs, I went into the crowd and was able to get my favorite shot of Ninja.


5. XTRMST- First Live Show

XTRMST is a Hardcore Straightedge band formed by Davey Havok and Jade Puget of AFI. When they announced their first ever show being at the Roxy Theater, I knew I had to shoot it. There was no barricade at this show and I definitely wasn’t going to try and be in the front (to avoid being kicked in the head by crowd surfers) so before the show I asked their tour manager if I could shoot from the backstage balcony for a couple songs, and with his permission, I was able to get that shot of Davey and Steve Aoki who was a surprise guest.


6. Heart of Storm Ballet
This is technically a ‘live’ shot, even though they are not musicians. I wanted to include this in my list because one, I love this photograph and two, I have never shot anything like this before. I was interning at an amazing PR company called MSOPR and one of the publicists asked me to come and photograph the dancers’ dress rehearsal. I said why not and I’m glad I did because this is one of those unique experiences that I probably won’t have the opportunity to photograph again.


7. Periphery

In my introduction to this list, I mentioned that I will mainly include bands that I like vs. bands whose photos I like- this is not one of those shots. I don’t listen to Periphery and I honestly don’t remember much from this show, but I really love this photo. I’m not sure why but there’s just something about it that I have always really enjoyed.

Judas Priest

8. Judas Priest- Knotfest 2015

I got approved to cover Knotfest for my website but as the days were nearing closer and closer, I kept thinking of the long drive to San Bernardino so I was going to cancel and not go. But then I was offered an All Access pass to shoot the festival for New Noise Magazine so I took them up on it because All Access! There were a ridiculous amount of photographers approved and it was impossible to move around in the photo pit for most artist sets. But for Judas Priest, only a select few of us were approved and I was able to get this shot of the legendary Rob Halford.

Machine Gun Kelly


9. Machine Gun Kelly- House of Blues
A couple days before this show, I was invited to shoot MGK’s album release show at a small studio. Not knowing who he was, but wanting to shoot a show, I agreed. After watching him, I was hooked and quickly asked his PR if he could make an exception and let me photograph him at the House of Blues. (Usually a guest list is submitted and closed a few days before the show- which is why photographers usually request to cover a show a couple weeks before- so I was really fortunate that MGK’s publicist approved me so last minute). He put on one of the best shows I have ever seen a rapper put on and I’m really happy that I went out to check him out even though I didn’t know who he was.

Rise Against- KSE-23

10. Rise Against- Hollywood Palladium

Rise Against is such a fun band to photograph- they are constantly jumping and giving photographers something amazing to capture. This was the first concert I shot with my new camera (Nikon D4) and new lens. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the camera was full frame and the new lens was not, so all my photographs from this show had a circle around the photo. I’m sure there is a technical term for what I’m describing but I’m not sure what it is. I did my best to crop the black circle away from all the photos and in the end, I think this is in the top 3 of my favorite jumping shots.


11. Scorpions- Forum
While we are on the topic of jumping, this is probably also in my top 3 of jumping shots. This will be one of my most memorable shoots ever, but it was also pretty tricky. The stage extended into a catwalk from the middle so photographers had to pick a side or walk all the way around to the other side. I watched some videos from this tour beforehand to get an idea of what to expect and I saw that singer, Klaus Meine gets drumsticks during the first couple of songs and throws them into the crowd. I’ll be honest- I was more focused on trying to get a stick than to shoot the set. (I didn’t catch one, in case you were wondering, but another photographer did so I wasn’t the only one being unprofessional!) This was nearing the end of the three songs, and I was walking to the right side of the stage where none of the photographers were really standing at the time because they were waiting for Rudolf Schenker to come pose for them at the tip of the catwalk. But when he came back to where I was standing, I watched him as he bent down and I quickly picked up my camera and click click click- hoping I got the shot. I wasn’t expecting any of these guys to be jumping but I am SO glad I was able to capture the moment.



12. System of a Down- Forum
System of a Down was the first band that I loved. I still love them to this day and always enjoy their shows. Although they have been on hiatus for what seems like forever, they still perform to sold out arenas. Usually when they play one offs or even tour, they don’t really allow photographers, aside from their touring one. This tour was an exception- it was a tour to honor victims of the Armenian Genocide during it’s 100th year anniversary so it was an honor to photograph them and to find out that the band posted my shots all over their social media.

Suicidal Tendencies_-6Suicidal Tendencies_-7

13. Suicidal Tendencies – Knotfest 2015
Much like Periphery’s shot on this list, Suicidal Tendencies is not a band I listen to. As I mentioned about Knotfest earlier, the photo-pits were super crowded. Thankfully the stage manager Mikey was cool enough to let me shoot bands from side stage. I tried during the entire set to get a good shot of Eric on the drums but it was hard because of the speakers in the way. That was until singer, Mike Muir started telling fans to get on stage. Workers from stage told all of us to go in the middle of the stage and it was finally my chance to get shots of Eric. I couldn’t choose between these two and it was a really cool opportunity because I got to meet Eric after the set. He was super cool, told me he loved the shots and gave me 4 drum sticks!

Van Halen NO WM-45


14. Van Halen
This was one of the more exciting shoots of the year. I felt like it was a milestone that I had achieved because it was the first time I photographed a legendary rock band. On top of that, Van Halen was my mom’s favorite band when she was a teenager so it was really cool being able to get free tickets and take her to see them for her birthday. This was also one of the toughest shoots for me to pick photos from because David Lee Roth is such a character, I had so many shots to choose from that it was nearly impossible to pick the top 20 to post on my site. I guess that’s the best type of dilemma a photographer can have.

The Weeknd No WM-4The Weeknd


15. The Weeknd- Forum
I wanted to end my list with the last concert I shot in 2015 which was on December 9. This was the first show I had shot since Knotfest (10.25) so it had been a while. I was actually pretty annoyed because I requested shows to photograph but I wasn’t hearing back from publicists, or if I was, I was being denied. The Weeknd had 2 shows at the Forum and I requested both but I lost hope after not hearing back and after the first show passing. The day of the second show I decided to follow up one last time with his publicist because I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t expecting a response but not long after, I got an email saying I was approved! He put on a really fun show and it’s interesting because a couple years ago- I requested photographing him at a venue 10 times smaller and got denied. Now that’s he’s way more popular, getting approved is more difficult- yet I was still approved. Must mean I’m doing something right, right?