Spotlight is a feature which aims to give exposure to the unsung heroes of the music industry. This article focuses on one of the most important groups of people that perhaps go largely unnoticed during most gigs: photographers. Keep an eye out for further articles on photographers and other groups of unsung heroes (independent venues and record stores) in the very near future.
Jordan Knight is a 25 year old photographer from Atlanta, Georgia. She is currently on the road and doesn’t necessarily base herself in one place, but you can often find her around Sydney, Australia. She has been doing photography ever since she can remember. She has always had little disposable cameras and little point and shoots, but got her first DSLR whilst in ninth grade and took photos of literally anything she could (even grass)! She has always had a love for rock/punk music and started going to shows in churches when she was in late elementary school. She can pretty much enjoy any genre though and can appreciate any good song.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography has been a constant creative outlet for me since I was in elementary school. It took me on adventures and allowed me to be quiet and really think about the moment. So photography will always be that to me, being able to freeze a moment and enjoy it later. No matter what you’re taking a photo of, you can have a memory and a feeling when you look at it.
Whose work has influenced you the most?
Most of the people that influence me are my friends, some of the greatest photographers in this industry. Thomas Falcone, Ashley Osborne, Matty Vogel, Beth Saravo, Luis Valez, Neal Walters, Pees, Ryan Watanabe, Joshua Halling, Vince Dwyer, Doug Elliot, Adam Elmakias, Adam Degross, I could go on for days… I also really look up to Ben Sasso, India Earl, Jade Barclay, Diwang Valdez, Cam Kirk, Jesse Herzog, Ben Staley, and James Frost.
From your perspective, what makes a great picture?
As a candid photographer, I live for those moments of absolute bliss and candidness. I strive to not pose and just be a fly on the wall. It’s pretty cliche, but if you look at a photo and you have some sort of emotion while looking at it, that’s a great photo.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
When I first started bettering myself at techniques, I was constantly on the computer (YouTube, Google, and blogs) trying to find tips and techniques. Coming from a family of business men and women who didn’t really see creativity as a higher education thing, I wasn’t able to afford university for photography on my own; nor did I think it was a good idea at the time. To be honest though, I’m really glad I was self taught, it gave me the motivation to get out there and learn and let me find my own style while doing that. Now, I find that social media is such a good outlet for learning new things from other people in the same industry, and also just going outside and trying new things to become better.
What goes through your mind just before you press the shutter button?
My initial thought is probably to make sure what I want to be in focus, is in fact in focus. I usually wait a few minutes (if I can) to make sure the moment I want to capture is there. Being patient is another thing, I’ve realised it is so important in the job I have. I often find the last few photos in my set of the same moment are the ones I use because that’s when people let themselves be more comfortable and forget the camera is there.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos in a live environment?
I just wish I had the confidence back then, I still struggle with pushing the boundaries and “getting right in there”. I never want to make someone uncomfortable or be in their personal space, but I often hold back. Telling myself it’s okay to get a little closer or be seen by the crowd for a second if that means capturing a beautiful moment.
What settings do you use in a live setting?
I usually stay around 125 Shutter to lose motion. If I’m shooting people singularly then I stay around 2.8 or lower in aperture, if I’m shooting a crowd I’ll go to 4.0 or higher. As far as ISO is concerned I try and keep it as low as possible. ISO differs depending on what time of the day it is or if it’s an inside show.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you could give to anyone wanting to get into live music photography?
Put yourself out there, get in the community. Most of the time your friends in the industry are going to be the ones to get you jobs. Obviously you have to work hard and never stop learning, but being nice and making friends with other photographers and making genuine connections is going to be a life saver in this industry. You’ll learn so much, and be inspired by other people’s creativity and hard work.
In your spare time, what other kinds of pictures do you enjoy taking?
When I’m not on tour or shooting music, you’ll often find me doing weddings or styled shoots. I never want to subject myself to one specific thing. In the photography world, I’ll most likely try anything once.
What motivates you to keep taking photographs?
Being around beautiful people, and changing up my environment. I really enjoy travel, so if I’m out there I’ll probably have a camera in my hand. I find knowing that I’m always learning keeps me motivated, knowing that I don’t know it all makes me want to learn.
Who has been your favourite artist to photograph so far?
I’m always on the road with Tonight Alive. Jen and I bounce off of each other with creativity, there’s never a dull moment and I always want to try something different with her. It never gets old and always excites me for a new day!
Who are your favourite artists to listen to when you’re at home?
I have a VERY wide variety when it comes to genre. I can honestly listen to just about anything. It just depends on my mood. I have a playlist for so many different things. I can always listen to John Mayer, or Red Hot Chili Peppers. Being from Atlanta, hip-hop runs through my blood too. At the moment there’s so much hype behind Post Malone, but I truly enjoy everything about his music. I also really love instrumentals, like Tycho and Explosions in the Sky. And my country fix is Dan and Shay for sure.
What was the first gig you ever went to as a fan and what was the first gig you did as a photographer?
I wish I had a better memory, but I’m pretty sure it was a Backstreet Boys gig. I was a huge fan. My first smaller gig was at a church I used to go to who had shows on Wednesday nights. A few of my friends played in hardcore bands that would play.
The first gig I ever photographed would have been Tonight Alive, at least four years ago.
What was the first record you ever bought? Do you still listen to it today and, if so, what does it mean to you?
The first record I bought with my own money would have probably been Simple Plan, I’m sure I still have it in my storage upstairs. It was my first introduction to rock/pop punk music. I had it on repeat constantly. It’s so sick because at the moment I’m on the last Vans Warped Tour and Simple Plan are on it, and we’ve become friends so I’m living my twelve year old dream getting to shoot and watch them whenever I want!
What is the best experience you’ve ever had at a live show?
I’ve had so many incredible shows, but one that pops into my mind is on the most recent tour with Tonight Alive where we went to London and did two sold out shows at KOKO and the atmosphere and venue were so amazing. I loved walking around and seeing everyone so involved and also knowing that so many incredible artists have played in that venue.
Finally, for those that aren’t already familiar with your work, how would you describe it and how can they best view it?
My work is best summed up as a documentary style with a warm feel. My eye definitely tends to likes things a bit warmer. I think that’s why I enjoy weddings and working with Tonight Alive as they fit my style so much as well, they’re really lovely warm people.
In order to view Jordan’s work, please follow the following links to his website and social media. Supporting photographers like Jordan ensures that they keep on providing us with the shots that enable us to continue to remember the gigs and moments that mean the most to us.