Interview: Corinne Giglio – Music Photographer.
By Cathy Rockwell
Photographing live performances can be tricky and when musicians are on stage it takes a special kind of talent to capture that image just right. It’s not just about timing, it’s about lighting and, for example, being prepared for unexpected weather conditions if the show is outside. Corinne Giglio is a truly talented photographer and artist behind the lens. She has taken her love for music and passion for photography and combined the two to create some of the best live shots out of the Central Florida concert scene. The New York native sat down with us and told us how being born and raised in a suburb of New York City jumpstarted her career and what’s she’s learned about live concert photography.
Corinne, tell us how you got interested in photography and when did you get into rock music?
I began to love rock and roll from the moment I laid my eyes/ears on The Beatles. I remember watching their first live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, back in 1964. Just days away from my 6th birthday, I was instantly captivated by this new British sound/band image, as were millions of others. Their music and fashion sense was quite different than what we Americans were used to. The music was louder and singing style was so bubbly. And they had major eye appeal! With their mop tops, collarless suits/ties/pointy ankle boots and electrical instruments, they couldn’t have been any cuter. Even us little kids were awestruck, which is probably why I became a major MTV fan straightaway — visuals to go along with the audio. My older brothers had Beatles records/albums, so while listening to their music; I was totally obsessed with looking at their cool photos.
As an early teen, I started to go to live rock concerts with friends. My absolute favorite, back then, was The Edgar Winter Group at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum in 1973, the year Frankenstein was a hit record. Edgar Winter was the coolest looking musician I had ever seen, a long-haired albino, very tall and slender, in funky clothes, with a keyboard strapped around his neck. As he moved around the stage, he would play other instruments as well. He was an amazing musician! And at 15, what an adrenaline rush that concert was.
I got seriously interested in photography in my late teens. Those casual/environmental portraits on display at the homes of family and friends really pulled me in. I found them to be so intriguing. What struck me most was the fact that these beautiful images are visual records of a person’s life; a cherished memory frozen in time. So impressed with informal portrait photography, in 1982, I finally got my first single lens reflex (SLR) film camera. I read dozens of books and looked at countless photos for two straight years before I really knew what I was doing! In 1994, I decided it was time to take several college courses in darkroom to further enhance my skills. (But my favorite college course ever: History of Rock & Roll! Good combination for what I LOVE to do!)
Portrait photography has been my passion since 1982. Specializing in informal portraiture, I’ve worked as both a corporate and private photographer, capturing everything from special events for a major aerospace company, religious ceremonies and political rallies, to a client’s slithering boa constrictor. Now, I’ve added concert photography to my passions as well.
Today, if I had to go to a concert today without a camera, I probably wouldn’t go. It would hurt too much not being able to preserve those incredible concert moments. Since a photo becomes a document, you feel more like a participant of the show rather than a mere spectator. Peter Frampton was the closest I came to not being able to take photos. Professional cameras were not allowed to enter venue. Just point and shoots. Thank goodness I had one with me! I try not to ever leave home without at least one point & shoot.
What was your first photography shoot?
My first “photography shoot” was in 1982 of my one year old niece and 3-year-old nephew on a South Florida beach, several weeks after purchasing my first SLR camera.
What inspires you?
As a location photographer, lush environment, vibrant colors and interesting textures inspire me. Some of my favorite photographs other than concert shots have been of Polynesians and Native Americans, as their ceremonial regalia is just so amazing…the feathers, the colors, the textures…magnificent
What makes the good picture stand out from the average?
One that displays some thought– important elements that go into composing a good image…interesting subject matter in relation to their surroundings, proper lighting, clarity and color saturation.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is my passion. It’s what I live for. I am totally mesmerized by the notion of freezing a moment in time. As soon as that shutter release button is pressed, history has been made. In essence, photos become priceless treasures of an individual’s life, and I am always thrilled to be an integral part of that process. I could be capturing one of the best performances of a musician’s career and that is also truly exciting to me.
Have you worked with digital cameras and do you like digital photography?
Took me a long time to transition from film to digital; was actually forced to do so about seven years ago. At this point in time, I can’t imagine ever going back to film. Digital is so convenient. Gone are the days waiting for the lab to process your film, only to find out thru prints you did not get the shot you needed/wanted. With digital, you get instantaneous results. If need be, additional pictures can be taken right on the spot until the desired image is achieved.
How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with his or her subjects to bring out their true self or their performance on stage?
When photographing individuals, it is very important to connect with the subject. Good chemistry really does affect the outcome of a photograph. That is why I like to talk with my subject prior to the shoot. Get to understand their needs/wants/insecurities. What they are trying to convey within the context of their photos. With an “uncooperative subject,” great photos aren’t a guarantee. I have a degree in sociology and it actually helps with what I do a great deal. I have also learned to understand patterns of behavior/body language, etc. I can read into situations and adjust accordingly. I know how to work around certain situations carefully and respectfully of my subjects. But with a performer, they are so engaged in their work, it is next to impossible to connect. So you just have to snap away and hope for the best. Unless, of course, it was arranged that you be there for them, then the dynamic may be completely different. Some are more photogenic then others on stage and it’s all about capturing that special “moment” of their performance. One of my favorite lines that I’ve heard about certain photographs is: “Wow…he/she posed for you!” My response, “No, it just looks that way.”
Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors when you are doing concert photography?
Fortunately, living in Florida, you don’t have to worry so much about inclement weather. But every now and again, I have been in a position of placing plastic bags around my cameras with a lens hole cut out and have had to ask someone to hold an umbrella over my head. However, there are waterproof cases available on the market.
Do you have a preference of color verses black and white?
Since we see the world in color, I prefer color– it is life-like. But every now and again, I do like the moody/contrast feel of black and white and sepia toned photos. It depends on the mood/setting/conditions of the image captured.
What was one of your favorite shoots?
This century, my favorite was of Styx, at the Silver Springs theme park, March 2012. Even in their 50s and 60s, these guys really ROCKED that stage. What energy. They played/ran around like a bunch of 20-something year olds and their interaction with the audience was outstanding. They were a photographer’s dream to photograph.
During the performance, the band actually ventured off stage, and out on to these long ledges on both sides of the stage. So at certain points during the show, trees, not the stage, became the backdrop. I got a photo of Tommy Shaw on the ledge; looks like he was playing guitar in someone’s backyard. Those are my favorite types of portraits; the simpler the background, the better.
What is your preferred location when you photograph musicians?
Preferred location is definitely outdoors. I also prefer during the day for great, natural light. I am not a low light/flash kind of photographer. But when I absolutely have to, I can make it work.
Do you have a favorite photographer?
With so many awesome photographers out there, I have favorite photographs, but not necessarily a favorite photographer. But if I absolutely had to choose, like I did when I had to write a paper for a photography course, it would be the late Linda McCartney. Loved her style!
If you could go on the road with a band or musician and be their exclusive photographer who would it be?
Styx would be my first choice, but I would love to photograph Sir Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Joan Jett, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lenny Kravitz, and if we could rewind time, Journey with Steve Perry.
If you could give an aspiring photographer advice when photographing a concert, what would you tell them to watch out for?
Some aspiring photographers are under the impression that investing in very expensive equipment is the most important aspect of a good photograph. Wrong. Remember, it is the photographer that creates the picture, not the camera. You can have basic digital SLR gear and achieve amazing results. Since lighting can be very tricky at rock concerts, be sure to have a good understanding of the basic mechanics of your camera so you can adjust the settings if need be. Do get as close to the stage as possible, but don’t get hung up on, “I need to be on stage.” Being on stage is NOT always the best angle to photograph musicians during a show. Just be sure you have at least a 200mm zoom lens on hand for those really cool tight shots and you’ll do just fine.
Besides musicians, what other subjects do you like to photograph?
I especially love photographing children. Not only are they adorable, but usually, they are little show offs and strive to make me happy. With that combination, fun/great pictures are inevitable. I also love photographing animals from companion animals to wildlife they are all so beautiful especially in their natural setting.
How does someone get a hold of you and do you have a website or social media page?
Visit Corinne’s website for more of her work.Share on social media