“Sometimes when I take photos … the result is due to chance; I wait for a special effect at a certain point in burst mode and keep my fingers crossed,” says Thibault Maestracci of his best concert photography. “For me, concert photography is not just a portrait of an artist on stage, but also a report of the moment, the atmosphere with the lights and the audience. Of course, this approach is very emotional.” He goes on to explain that the moment and the music give him the idea, and then he does his best to capture it quickly.
This is the second time we introduce Thibault. We previously did this in our old black and white e-zine La Noir Image, which now lives in The Phoblographer’s archives. He began his career as a sound engineer with various French artists. In his free time, he started taking his camera to take photos of the crew and everyone around him. Eventually he transferred his artistic skills to capturing great moments during a concert.
More than ever, Thibault’s best concert photography conveys a sense of mysticism, akin to a book that gets better with every reading. However, his photos also tend towards simplicity, which is one of the reasons why he loves black and white so much.
Years ago, Thibault told us he shoots with a Sony a7 II and an Asahi Takumar 85mm lens. This combination of vintage and modern gear helps him get his look. It’s also a fairly common process! Check out the work of various YouTubers posing as photographers and you’ll see many looks inspired by the film. It sure puts a smile on every single couple getting married across America. Nostalgia is an undeniably big thing in photography as it always takes us back to better times. Stuffing these emotions into images as a single layer really helps us earn that double click on social platforms.
Concert photography is very emotional. As you watch a scene in front of you, it is illuminated and staged to give you a larger than life experience. So it’s sometimes difficult to capture this on camera while focusing on critical elements. That’s one of the reasons Thibault tells us he loves black and white photography. “BW could make the picture simpler and easier to understand,” he explains. “But not all the time; Colors tell stories too.”
Admittedly, he also says that sometimes the LED lights just aren’t that great; So, by converting to black and white, the image can be saved. For years, that was a stigma in the photo industry that has gone the way of the fax machine. Today it is understandable that the colors in a scene are not necessarily important. So if they don’t matter, then why do they have them?
So what does Thibault’s trial look like?
- First he removed blurry images. But he also removes photos from the queue that just don’t suit his technical or artistic tastes.
- Then he applies his custom presets as a starting point. If he doesn’t like that, he edits from scratch. He looks for edits that bring out the details and works to further refine those adjustments.
And sometimes he just has a good surprise.
All images by Thibault Maestracci. Used with permission. This interview has been edited for better grammatical English. Be sure to visit Thibault’s website and Instagram to see more. Would you like to be featured? Click here to see how.