The Other Side with Photographer Joe Gall
Real Detroit Weekly's Best Local Photographer of 2010 shares why fans can make or break a shot, lends advice to bands who are looking to hire an entertainment photographer, and explains why he'd love to tour with Foxy Shazam in this week's Other Side.
Resident Detroiter and award-winning photographer Joe Gall was raised in the northern suburbs of the city with a camera in his hand. He explains, “My parents gave me their old 35mm Ricoh XR-7 with a couple of lenses back before I knew anything about cameras. I eventually taught myself [how to use a camera] by shooting our family road trips and my friends riding BMX bikes. As I got older, I became a regular at venues like The Wired Frog and the Magic Stick through documenting the local music scene.” These days, Gall is a freelance entertainment photographer who has shot everyone from Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, to The Romantics, The Darkness, and LMFAO. Although he regularly contributes to Real Detroit Weekly, Red Bull’s ChinaShop Magazine, and Spin Magazine, Gall explains, “I also work with an agency that hooks me up with publications like Rolling Stone. One of my life goals was to be published in Rolling Stone, now I’m aiming for the cover.”
We were able to convince photographer Joe Gall to set down his camera long enough to tell us what it’s like to be on The Other Side:
Green Light Go: How did you get started as a music photographer? Was there a defining moment that inspired you to work in this field, or was this career path always in the cards?
Joe Gall: Growing up, I never thought music photography would become a career. I went to Specs Howard thinking I would end up making music videos. I worked as a video editor after graduation for about six years, while photographing on the side. Eventually, photography consumed my thoughts and I walked away from the 9 to 5 corporate bullshit.
GLG: You were named Real Detroit’s Best Local Photographer in 2010 and have photographed hundreds of artists over the years, including The Romantics, Nicki Minaj, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, LMFAO, Scissor Sisters, and Lady Gaga. What artists would you like to work with in the future?
JG: With all of the amazing talent we have here in Detroit, it was a great honor to be named Real Detroit Weekly's Best Local Photographer in 2010. A few of the other local photogs have set the bar so high that they inspire me to [continuously] stay on my game and push my abilities. I look forward to sharing the pit with them just as much as I enjoy watching the show. In terms of artists I’d like to work with (again) in the future, I’d love to be on The Darkness/Foxy Shazam tour. Those bands explode with energy, it is so much fun to photograph them.
GLG: When you set out to photograph a live band, what aspects do you need to consider during the shoot? How do you hone in on a perfect shot?
JG: Live concerts can be so unpredictable, but any tips ahead of time can help to create a perfect shot. I have to hustle, research the band, find out as much information as I can before I even pick up a camera, and I try to include the crowd whenever possible. The fans are the most important people in the room, no matter what show I’m shooting. I always try to capture the action and make the band look as entertaining as possible.
GLG: From a photographer’s point of view, how do you know that you are a good match for a band?
JG: Most of the bands I’ve photographed like to party; that’s been working out so far.
GLG: What is the best piece of advice you’d give to a band that thinks they are ready to hire a photographer?
JG: Try not to pour booze on anyone’s camera!
GLG: At the end of the day, what are the most rewarding aspects of working as a music photographer?
JG: The most rewarding aspects of working as a music photographer are being my own boss, growing my beard, capturing history, and sharing my experiences through my camera with fans. I’m part of such a small circle of artists, because only a handful of people have a job like mine. I feel that it’s important not to take [my job] for granted.
GLG: What have you been listening to lately?
JG: My ever changing playlist currently includes Wilson, Flashclash, Danny Brown, Com Truise, Gotye, Hudson Mohawke, and The Black Keys.
This week's Other Side is brought to you by: Lauren Mercury Roberts
Photo Credit: Joe Gall Photography