Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interview: Angela Owens (Photographer)

First off, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview with us. Could you introduce yourself/your choice of art to our readers?
I'm Angela Owens. I'm a photographer in Boston, MA.

How long have you been shooting photography and do you feel you have mastered your field yet?
I'm not sure when exactly I got into photography. I've been playing around with cameras since I was a kid. I started shooting shows when I was a teenager. It wasn't until I was halfway through college that I realized maybe I don't suck at it, and decided to get into photography seriously. I started taking extra classes at a different college that offered documentary photography, and then I got my Masters in photojournalism. But I don't think I've mastered anything. I'm an idiot. I mess up all the time. Every time I look at one of my photos I see a thousand ways I could have shot it better.

What is your current “go to” set up for shooting live shows? With your set up do you run into challenges when it comes to shooting in a live setting (lighting/stage setup/crowd/etc etc)?
I don't have one go-to setup, it changes depending on the venue. For 90% of my shots at TIHC I used an 85mm prime and no flash. But when I'm in a basement I'm going to use flash and a wide angle. Gotta adapt to the surroundings. I wouldn't say I run into any challenges, exactly. There are always different factors to consider, the biggest thing is where can I position myself to get a good photo without getting in the way. Its such a bummer to see photographers who don't follow that etiquette. Documenting the show should never ever ever ever interrupt the show. But finding a good spot on the side is never too much of a challenge.

Your go to shooting style based around black and white photography, what do you feel is gained/lost with doing solely B&W shooting? Are you using stock B&W settings through your camera or do you use programs such as Adobe Lightroom to have more control over your final product?
There are some photos that definitely work best in color, but I just prefer black and white. Its just a matter of personal style. I like to play around with light and shadows, and I think those details are best seen in black and white.

I shoot in color and convert to black and white later. Shooting B&W through your camera really limits your options. And every once in a while someone *needs* a color photo, and I'm not going to disappoint them.

I see a lot of people complain about “stage potatoes” at live shows, do you feel like it hurts your shooting focus when there’s a million random people on the stage with you?
I don't encounter that too much. Most venues I go to in Boston don't have stages, bands usually play on the floor. The Democracy Center, the Elks, the Boiler Room. No stages. Its great. When there's no stage, there's no stage potatoes. No stage mosh. It's a wonderful world we live in.

But to answer your question- if people get in my way, it's annoying, but who cares. I want everyone to have fun, and if I miss a few shots it isn't the end of the world. By all means, stage dive your heart out. But if you don't serve a purpose, don't stand on the stage for the whole set. The only time I get really cranky about it is when tall dudes stand in front of me so I can't see. I'm five foot nothing, I can't shoot over them. And then it's awkward afterwards when a band asks me for photos and I have to tell them that I couldn't see them because their entourage was in my way the whole night. That has only happened a couple times though. Usually everyone is cool.

You had the opportunity to shoot This Is Hardcore and Damaged City Fest this past year, how were those experiences?
This was my third year shooting This is Hardcore. Joe does such a great job bringing everything together and it always feels like a reunion with friends that I don't get to see the rest of the year. It's kind of exhausting to shoot 60 bands in a weekend, but it is totally worth it. Plus there's pizza.
This was my first time shooting Damaged City. As far as fests go, it's probably the most in line with my taste in music. And Damaged City was the perfect length, just enough bands that I didn't get burnt out. No pizza, but you can't win them all. (Or can you? Free 8x10 print to anyone who brings me a Duccini's vegan pizza to the fest next year)

If you had to showcase your ENTIRE catalog of photos with one live photo, what photo would you choose and why?
Ah shit. I have no idea how to answer this. Any photo of Mindset, GIVE, or No Tolerance.

Who are your influences when it comes to photography? Do you believe that like their work helps you strive to become a better photographer?
Matt Miller has been my biggest influence since I started shooting shows. I think he mostly does weddings these days, but check out the hardcore shows in his archive. His work is next level. And Alvin Carrillo is my favorite current photographer. Seeing his photos definitely pushes me to be better. He's got an incredibly unique style and vision, I admire his work a lot. And obviously Glen Friedman produced some of the most important documentary photographs of early hardcore.

Now for the most important question of this interview, you have ONE choice of pizza for the remainder of your life. What pizza place and what toppings from said location would you choose for your lifelong pizza?
That's too easy. The vegan buffalo chicken at Nice Slice in Providence. But only if I get to choose who makes it. It's hit or miss depending on who's working. One time when I was on tour in Florida of all places I had the best vegan pizza of my life, but I can't remember the restaurant or what town we were in. I will always remember that pizza though. It's the one that got away.

Thank you again for doing this for us, if you have any final comments, shout outs, or words to the readers, please include them below.
Thanks Wayne! It was a pleasure.

Check out Angela's work directly at angelaxowens.com
Interview was slated to be in the next issue of our physical zine, but with that project getting halted for the time being I figured it would be cool to share the interview with all of you. Expect another interview or two to hit the site very soon.