Behind the lens with Cameron Flaisch
Cameron Flaisch – a photographer based out of Northwest Georgia, United States – has, since the summer of 2017, worked as a photographer and content creator for Microwave after their first tour together at Vans Warped Tour. He’s also shot for Can’t Swim, Drug Church, Save Face, Free Throw, A Lot Like Birds, Bad Luck and various others.
Tell us about your gear – everything from your camera and lenses to editing software.
For the most part I’ve been shooting on a Canon 5d Mrk4 Body – I carry two of them on tour. I typically use one body but always carry a backup and it also helps to have another just in case I want to set up a static camera for another video angle. As far as lenses go, my tour set up is primarily a Canon 35mm F/1.4L II, a Canon 85mm F/1.4L, and a 16-35mm F/2.8L II. Those three lenses are with me on every tour. A 35/85mm combo is my bread and butter for nearly all of my work – even outside of music photography. I also carry a Fuji X100V for candid’s while in the van or when we’re walking to the nearest waffle house. It’s always great to have something on you because you never know when things will happen. Always being prepared is the first step to creating good content for the band you’re working with. Show photos are very important but equally important is capturing the band outside of “show time”. People want insight into their lives and candid’s are the best way to show it and gain momentum on social media.
How did you get into photography?
This is a bit of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. I had to move down south part way through senior year and had a tough time meeting like-minded folks in my area. The one thing I had in common with people my age here was my love of cars. Growing up in Detroit, MI you grow up with a wrench in your hand. My intro to photography came through automotive photography, which later led to “car clients” asking me to photograph their families, then their kids’ senior portraits, then weddings and other important life milestones.
Since the sixth grade, I had always played in bands, so when I moved here I joined a band called Tir Asleen that was lucky enough to share the stage with some really big acts in our genre. A venue in Chattanooga had a promoter named Casey Whitaker who loved our band and when we would play shows he would let me photograph the others. Bands started to catch on to the band photos I would post and tag them in and it slowly – very slowly – snowballed from there!
“Cover all aspects of the show. Not JUST the band. Focus on people having a good time and throwing down. Capture the hype.”
What’s the least amount of gear a new starter can manage with?
I always tell people I mentor to start with one prime lens; my go to is a 35mm but there isn’t a great cheap option. I usually point them to a decent camera body and a 50mm prime. I believe that zooms make photographers lazy. When you are forced to shoot with the same focal length it forces you to move your feet and get creative when you don’t have the ideal perspective to use it. I would feel totally comfortable shooting an entire show, candid’s and all, with either a 35mm or a 50mm.
Walk us through the process of taking live photos? From acquiring a photography pass to publishing.
As mentioned before, I used the band I was in to sneak around the photo pass acquisition part of starting out in music photography. Typically you have to go through some sort of publication to apply and from there its up to the venue/band/ management to grant you access. I always recommend people reaching out to the band’s photographer as well if you want to shoot. A lot of us get to shoot these guys 20-30 days in row and I don’t think I’ve ever turned a photographer away. Personally, I want to be a connection that people remember when they talk about how they got started. If a band lets you shoot, just don’t take advantage of it. Use your three songs, mind where the crew are and avoid being in their way, and don’t be a dick. Being a pleasant person to be around will get you pretty far in this industry. All of our styles change and mature over time. Start out strong by being nice and you’ll be surprised by all of the opportunities that will present themselves.
Can you share your favourite piece of work with us? Why do you love it so much?
Oh this is tough. I’ve been trying for a year to narrow down which photos I want to print for my own house and it’s so hard. One of my favorite recent-ish photos was one I took for Microwave when they released their last album, Death Is A Warm Blanket. I used a projector to layer over an image of a nuclear explosion (from when the US tested one, not one used in combat) and I love the feel of it. Not only because I think it’s visually pleasing, but because this album was much heavier for them and it helped show the new direction of the band with a visually stimulating image. Other than that, I always get hyped on their live photos. They are such a high energy band and they are some of the nicest and funniest dudes to be around. I’m super fortunate to call them all close friends; these guys are family.
If you could have dinner with five people who’s either inspired you or who you’d consider a muse, who would it be?
Funnily enough, a lot of the people I would want to have dinner with don’t necessarily influence me through their photography but more so the mindset they inspire me to be in.
Fer Juaristi – Fer is one of my favorite photographers of all time. He primarily shoots weddings and families but his eye is incredibly unique. His use of negative space and minimalism is incredible. He’s not afraid to try super odd compositions and just has a look to all of his work.
Sean Flannigan – Sean is another one of my favorites. We’ve chatted a good bit and I think if I lived closer to him, we would be homies. His photos are raw and real. Not in a “oh my god, this looks like film” kind of way but just true emotion. Not to mention the dude has killer taste in music.
Dallas Green – Being from the Toronto, Canada area, Alexisonfire are some hometown heroes. The guy is just a wizard musically. It’s not fair for someone to be as talented and diverse as that guy. I mean compare Alexisonfire to City and Colour and you’ll see what I mean; he does both better than anyone I listen to. He’s also a huge gear nerd, so really I just want to talk about his collection, haha.
Rodney Smith – Rodney Smith has unfortunately passed away, but just look at his photos. They are weird. They don’t make sense. They are intriguing and odd. I love it.
Tucker Rule – Tucker is the drummer for Thursday and they played a huge part in why I fell in love with playing music. Before my current band, I played drums for 15+ years. Thursday was a huge part of the formative years of my music “career.” He’s just a cool fucking dude that plays/writes super interesting drum parts. They are creative. He doesn’t rely on playing fast, or just cool fills, he knows how to cater to the song and write interesting/dynamic parts. Something I always strive to get better at, whether on drums or guitar.
Any other tips?
Don’t be a dick. Touring hinges more on compatibility vs just being able to take a cool photo. It’s about a good hang as well as killer content.
Be passionate about what you do. This industry isn’t crazy lucrative. Learn how to supplement your income while at home so you can afford to do what you absolutely love for less. Bands can see when you are doing something out of passion vs just for the money. It’s a hard industry, be in it to help build the band. Grow with them rather than along side them; it’s a team effort no matter which way you look at it.
Cover all aspects of the show. Not JUST the band. Focus on people having a good time and throwing down. Capture the hype.
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