Visone is a documentary photographer who found her way into concert photography and currently tours with longstanding rock bands like Limp Bizkit and Godsmack. Besides touring with bands as a photographer, Visone does work on tour as a videographer, and has had much of her work published. A long list of editorial credits including Rolling Stone and Alternative Press can be found on her website below. She also finds the time to teach a class at the Art Institute of Boston.
What makes Visone stand out among other photographers are the intimate, behind the scenes shots she takes of musicians. Through her work, she gives fans a glimpse of life off the stage for artists. Find out what Visone had to say about touring with bands, succeeding at music photography, how she got started, and where she is now.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you doing?
Thanks for having me! I am awesome right now. I’m on a plane to Korea.
You received the Getty Images Editorial Photography Grant in 2010 for your series “Gender Roles and Appearance”. Can you tell us a bit about that project and how the grant may have helped you afterward?
The project came about from me photographing my family for purely selfish reasons. I loved my family, so that’s where I spent my time. The project came to light when other people started noticing what I never did. I was so involved with my subjects that it was hard to see what was really going on until I looked back at the photos. I didn’t get into photography to make a statement. It just happened organically. And now that I look at the project, I love it. It taught me something about myself, and the people around me, that I never would have seen. I think that more often than not I shoot just to shoot. There is a sort of need and want to take a picture at a certain time. I love the freedom of photography like that. I love all aspects of the process. The grant helped me to focus 100% on the project. In my opinion, being fully engulfed in something yields a more satisfying result.
Can you take us through the process of applying for a grant, for those interested in applying?
Follow the directions carefully and give a full and honest submission. It is as simple, and as complicated as that.
You currently work at the Art Institute of Boston. What is your role there?
I teach a class titled “Digital Photography”, which is a portfolio class that uses digital cameras. We focus on building a cohesive portfolio as well as learning the ins and outs of the digital camera and Photoshop. It tends to be way more than my students expect. I like to make them work. Weeds out the people who aren’t lifers.
So you are a documentary photographer. What were some of your initial experiences with photography?
What got me into photography was the band Hanson. I was watching TV with my mom. Entertainment Tonight to be exact. They were shooting a day in the life with Hanson. I was just getting into music, so I was obsessed. They did a photo shoot and the photographer was having so much fun hanging out with the band. So that was it. I decided “I need to become a photographer so I can hang out with Hanson.” I got a disposable camera that came free with a bag of dog food. I got my sister and 2 cousins to pose for me like they were a band. And that was my first photo-shoot.
How did you become involved with music photography?
I started taking pictures at local shows. Then I tagged along on a tour with my boyfriends band. I met a bunch of people along the way, things lined up. It took a lot of work, luck, and being nice. You also have to really enjoy what you do. That is key.
You tend to focus on more of the intimate, back stage moments with bands you tour with. Does that have anything to do with your experiences as a documentary photographer since you are essentially documenting a band’s time on tour?
Yes, I think it all stems from me starting out taking photos of my family. Tours are just huge families of people that you are not related to. You all live with each other and have to deal with everyone, all day, everyday. So it really is a family. And going back to what I said before, I believe the best photos are taken when you are fully emerged in a subject. Although I do love taking live photos, the backstage intimate stuff is my favorite. I just relate to it more. I remember all the times backstage more than I do the shows. I mean, the shows are awesome. But there is nothing like a photo of someone doing nothing. Those are my favorite. Those are the photos you can really look into and spend time with.
How has focusing on those elements of band members, as opposed to shooting from the photo pit, changed your perspective as a photographer?
It took awhile for me to get comfortable with taking photos of people I didn’t know. I’m not an “in your face” kind of photographer. On a documentary level, I never take photos of people I don’t know. I think it’s intrusive and I feel weird doing it. It actually takes me a little bit to get comfortable with a band when I first start touring with them. As for changing my perspective, it didn’t take long to realize that famous people are just people. I knew that even before photographing bands. I was a total “hang out by the tour bus” girl when I was in high school. So I’ve been around the scene for a while. This is just taking it to the next level.
You are also a videographer for some of the bands you tour with. What kinds of video projects have you created for them in the past?
When I shoot documentary video on tour it mostly turns into things like Webisodes, Instagram videos, stuff like that. There is also a bunch of footage that doesn’t get released right away. I have a more of a long-term project in mind for that. I’ve also shot some music videos. Those are a lot different for me because of the planning that goes along with it. It’s fun for a change.
What is a typical day for you like when you’re on tour with a band?
It’s different with every band I tour with. Some bands go out a lot. Some don’t. Either way, I always try to put myself where everyone is. I like to wake up and start working when the crew does. There is a good amount of down time on tour, so I try and work on photos as much as I can. But the real portfolio comes to life when I get home and can put complete focus on the body of work.
What are you usually doing when you’re not on tour with bands? Also, does touring interfere with other aspects of your work/life?
When I’m not touring I am usually at home hanging with my family and friends. That is when I shoot all of my personal stuff. My work is my life and my life is my work. I am just constantly taking photos. I kinda have stopped seeing them as two different things. Now it’s just my life.
What suggestions or tips do you have for aspiring photographers looking to break into the world of concert photography?
Keep shooting and do it because you love it. Shoot your favorite bands, shoot bands you’ve never heard of, make friends, have fun and never take anything too seriously. If you are passionate about what you do, people will notice.
Where can our readers find you?
My website ParisVisone.com
Facebook – Facebook.com/parisvisonephotography
Instagram – @parisvisone
Twitter – @parisvisone
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There is no trick to “making it” in photography. A lot of people ask me how I got to do what I do. It’s a lot of days shooting, emailing, networking, posting, editing, eating, punishing. It’s different for everyone, and everyone needs to find his or her own way. Just love what you’re doing, and you will never be disappointed.
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