Header photo by Ryan Madson
Jackson Fleming grew up in northwestern New York State in a city called Buffalo. It wasn’t until March of 2017 that Fleming discovered his love for photography, and more specifically music photography. He now travels internationally — okay.. just to Toronto, but still — to photograph concerts for artists like CHVRCHES, Queens of the Stone Age and more! We got a chance to sit down with Fleming and ask him some questions about his career and what advice he has to offer to other young photographers that are just starting out
How long have you been doing photography? What originally drew you to it?
If you can remember, what was the first show you shot? What advice would you give to your former self?
The first show I shot was at a small venue in Toronto, the Velvet Underground, and it was an indie rock band called Dreamers. The only reason I got in there without being part of media was because my buddy was the band’s tour manager and my brother was subbing in for the drummer who couldn’t make it to the gig that night. That was back in March of last year, so I was just starting out with photography in general and felt like a total novice standing there with my shitty Rebel t1i and kit lens. But if I had to go back and give my former self a piece of advice I think the one thing would be to actually shoot on auto focus. I was such a moron that I actually thought, for some reason, that shooting on manual focus would be better than on auto. Needless to say, when I got home and realized that pretty much all of my photos were out of focus because of all the erratic movement, I decided to just trust in the camera instead (lol).
Out of all of the photos in your portfolio, which photo is your favorite and why?
Most likely would have to go with this photo of Wayne Coyne, frontman of the Flaming Lips, I took back in September of 2017. It was really my first big show that I had photographed up to that point and really the first image I managed to produce with practically no editing. It was big confidence boost for me because it proved to me that all I had to do was relax and not get so worried about getting “the perfect shot” while I’m jammed in a pit with like 15 other sweaty photographers, all jockeying to get the best possible angle.
The Flaming Lips
The thing that I really love about your work is your GIF’s; and this is a two part question. Can you talk a little bit about what made you decide to shift into moving images and why? Also, can you give a little insight into your process behind making the GIF’s?
I mean in terms of GIF’s, it was just something I would mess around with from time to time when I was bored and looking for something to do post-editing. I always enjoyed the GIF’s I’d see some photographers make with their Nishika or Nimslo film cameras on Instagram so that’s what made me want to emulate that using my DSLR. Regarding my process of making them, I just wait for a moment in a performer’s set where they dance or make multiple movements that I think would look good as a GIF and I either take a burst of photos or video. From there I just throw it into an editing software and compile all the stills into one fluid clip!
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
When shooting, what is your typical gear setup?
You shoot pretty much every genre out there from heavy to indie pop and everything in between. Is there a specific genre of music that you prefer to photograph more and why?
I ask a lot of photographers this — do you prefer shooting shows in clubs/venues or at festivals and why?
What advice do you have for up and coming photographers?
I would just say keep practicing at every opportunity you get because that’s really the only way you get better. The more you go out, whether it be just walking around your neighborhood/city or at a show photographing an artist/band, you’ll keep learning new aspects of photography that will help you grow. Also, just have fun with it. I know it can be intimidating sometimes when you’re at a show and in a pit with a bunch of dudes who are strapped with the flashiest shit but at the end of the day it’s all about just being there and doing the best you can. Some of the best photographers I’ve seen and have come to know have taking the most amazing pictures on things like $10 point & shoots!
You can stay up to date with Jackson and his photography by checking out his website and following him on Instagram @jacksonhfleming