I have always been fascinated with music photography. It started in 2010, albeit with non-existential gears, when I suddenly was into OPM bands. I was still a noob in the industry then, having only my friend’s cameras to play with. I remember hating how low the aperture and ISO their cameras had back then. (I’m just glad the I have a 50mm lens to use now.) Last year, I got to cover my first ever concert in La Salle.
I wrote this a few years back in the middle of my eagerness to do just that. I interviewd Niña Sandejas, who’s one of my favorite music photographers (and a woman at that), to know more about the interesting industry she belongs in. Below is the copy of the article:
The clamor for photography may be an effect of strenuous social media and networking sites. Although far from the more popular studio photography and the modern “selfies” and “phoneography,” music photography had set a different record for the still art. Niña Sandejas, one of the growing numbers of female music photographers in the country, takes us to what is up and about, and how this camerawork shoots.
Usual case scenario during gigs and concerts: an audience singing along with their favorite artist; both hands up in the air, one of which is either swaying along with the melody or doing the devil sign (more popularly known as the rock sign); while the other one is holding their highest mega-pixeled phone camera. Although this had been the setup since the evolution of smart phones, Niña Sandejas does this, with a professional camera, as a part of her job.
Holding her Sony a7r, Niña is usually seen peering through her viewfinder, finding the best angle and clicking the shutter button during such events. But why music photography? “Why not,” she laughs. “Being surrounded by musicians and being able to document what happens to them on stage and off stage is an honor and a blessing. It also helps promote the artist, in turn helping the entire music industry as well,” she added.
Even though she had already tried doing fashion shoots, having taken up Fashion Design and Marketing in college, Niña still prefers this spur-of-the-moment kind of photography. It’s her drive to work for the music industry that keeps her going, “I want to be out there shooting, writing, promoting musicians, and to keep it that way you really have to push yourself to be able to stay.”
Despite her determination in photography, there were times when she thought of quitting, “most musicians are struggling with their own careers, so paying you isn’t always an option.” But as she further capitalizes on her job; her investment extends further to friendships with those from the music industry. Once they succeed, she’s carried along with their triumph.
It was also a factor that during her first few works, she was the only woman doing a job which was thought to be a man’s career; it was a hard job and not for those who are “maarte” given that the audience would be jumping along like bunnies throughout the sets. “Recently, however you’d be surprised that the numbers of female music photographers are already on the same level as the male counterparts,” she confidently answered.
But what takes her back to pursuing her job? Aside from Annie Leibovitz, who is one of her main influences; it is when people, especially artists, notice and remember. Dong Abay, vocalist of the local rock band Yano, went up to her one time and said he loved the photo she took of his wife and child. “I was surprised he actually remembered it,” she recollected.
So far, her most favorite event that she had covered is the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. She loved it because the restrictions as a photographer were really persuaded; recording a weekend of worldwide celebrated performers from sunrise to sunset, wandering in a fiesta that is several hectares of land, with several stages in the middle of the mountains of Naeba, “it was a setting you don’t get to see every day.”
Niña also shared that one of the best things about being a music photographer is that she doesn’t have to line up anymore to get into concerts; because the people know she’ll be taking photos or will review gigs. Other times, she gets to listen to a song before its release. She even had the chance to be one of the backing vocals for Sandwich’s Sunburn. Yep, she was one of those who were shouting “sunburn!”
She said the dissimilarity between those who make it and those who don’t are not the tools or the talent that they are capable of as artists, but the self-control to defeat the hassle and the load of an extremely challenging career. “Amateurs break; professionals may make mistakes, but are quicker to move on.”
On Senti Saturdays, I try to revive, resuscitate, bring back a blog post that had been drafted a couple of months or years back. I currently have 30 unpublished articles (including the one below) that are waiting to be edited, continued, or just simply publicized.
(Header from Unsplash.com)