"I try and convey the music’s feeling and the artist’s emotion, while also giving a sense of what it would have been like to be there."- (Interview with photographer Brendan Donahue)
Q: Can you introduce yourself and tell me what you do?
A: My name is Brendan Donahue. I’m 18 years old, in high school. And I’m a photographer, focused on concerts.
Q: How and when did you get into concert photography?
A: I’d guesstimate about 2009. I was about 15, attending concerts. Brought a camera into a smaller venue one time and liked how some pictures looked, and thus decided to try and make them better.
Q: What made you want to do what you do today?
A: Music (like many people would say) is my life. I’ve always had a passion for photography, and decided to try and combine the two.
Q: What was first camera and gear you used?
A: My first camera was Fujifilm Finepix S2000. It didn’t have interchangeable lenses, but did okay with flash in small venues. My first DSLR was a Sony a390.
Q: What kind of camera and gear do you use now?
A: I currently have a Canon 60D. I use a 50mm f/1.4 and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.
Q: If you can remember, who was the first band or bands you took photos of at a show?
A: One of the first times I had a camera with me at a concert was Warped Tour 09. I ended up on stage for A Day to Remember, it was pretty rad. One of my first photo pass type shows was Greek Fire, Foxy Shazam, and Circa Survive.
Q: How did that first show go for you?
A: The Circa Survive show was scary. It was my first time with a DSLR, and was excited/nervous to see how they would turn out.
Q: Do you only shoot concert photography in St. Louis, or do you work in other cities?
A: Due to still being in high school, just St. Louis. Every now and then I’ll road trip to catch a good show/tour.
Q: Have you ever shot promos for a band? If so, which bands?
A: My first shot at promos were with my friends in This or the Apocalypse. Due to my lack of knowledge on promos and the situation, they ended up being just for fun. I also did promos for a local band called The Baboonz.
Q: If you have a favorite, who is your favorite band to shoot at shows?
A: I can’t narrow it down to one. Miss May I is always a blast to shoot, I’ve gotten familiar with their set. Also, letlive is always a blast.
Q: Have you ever gone on tour with a band? If so, which bands?
A: A band from St.Louis called Machree. They won a week of Warped Tour 2011 and I did merch/photos for them. I formed many other friendships during that week, and for that I owe them the world.
Q: What pushes you to keep doing what you do?
A: It’s my passion. I know the vast majority don’t make decent money from it, but I’m not in it for the money.
Q: How was it taking photos at last year’s Vans Warped Tour?
A: It was tough. St.Louis was apparently one of/the hottest date. I had a list of about 6 I wanted to shoot. In-between sets, if there was time, was spent seeing friends. Actually, I ended up getting sick at the end of the night due to not eating or drinking water.
Q: Who do you look up to for what you do?
A: Adam Elmakias hands down. He always has the sharpest and best looking photographs. He captures the coolest perspectives and moments during a set. His candid and promos are superb as well.
Q: When you go to shows, do you get a press pass automatically since you’re well known, or do you have to ask for it?
A: I always contact either the band directly if I know them, or the band’s management/publicist for bigger shows.
Q: What advice can you give someone who wants to go into concert photography?
A: Practice. Get familiar with your camera and what it’s capable of. Even if you’re not shooting a concert, you can still get ideas from anything.
Q: Aside from concert photography, do you do any other kind of photography?
A: Sometimes I’ll take portraits of friends or my little sister.
Q: What is one word you’d use to describe yourself?
Q: Something you’d like to accomplish in a couple years?
A: Steady touring with bands.
Q: What do you try to capture when shooting photos?
A: Emotion. I try and convey the music’s feeling and the artist’s emotion, while also giving a sense of what it would have been like to be there.
Q: Do you have any upcoming shows you’ll be shooting photos for?
A: No Bragging Rights, the Every Time I Die tour (w/The Acacia Strain, Hundredth, Vanna, and No Bragging Rights), and maybe Passion Pit/Matt & Kim.
Q: Is there any last thing you’d like to add?
A: Thank you to every band, management, publicist, promoter, fan, friend, and anyone I forgot, that have supported me in my photography. Never give up, and never lose hope. Thanks for reading!
Interview by: Wellington Gibson