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TC3 Drinking Club Exclusive Interview with Music Photographer William McClintic.
TC3DC. How did you get into music/gig photography?
WM. Kind of a long story, but I was living in Buffalo, NY and working for the railroad. I was a passenger in a work vehicle and we were involved in a head on collision. I suffered career ending injuries, and was at home recovering and getting pretty depressed. I knew I needed to find something to occupy my mind or I would go crazy. I always wanted to try photography, so I went and bought a camera and started watching online tutorials. I literally watched hours and hours of them, and took a lot of pictures, just trying to learn and get better. Eventually, I felt confident enough to take my camera to some local shows and try my hand at concert photography. I actually started getting some good shots, and found I really enjoyed the challenges that live shows present. The economy in New York made it impossible to afford to live there after my accident, so we moved to Nashville. Not only is it much more affordable, the photography opportunities are never ending. I'm constantly learning and I still watch tons of online tutorials. One thing not many people know, is how 90 East Photography got its name. My car accident was on the New York State Thruway (I-90 East). I wanted to take that really bad experience and turn it into something positive. The name reflects that.
TC3DC. What kit do you use and why? (Body, lens etc)
WM. For concerts, I use the Nikon D5 and D4S camera bodies because they're very good in low light. I generally use a Nikon 70-200 VRII lens. I use it to get good close up shots. I use a Nikon 24-70 or 14-24 mm lens for wider shots of an entire band.
TC3DC. What is your favorite venue to photograph bands?
WM. I like a lot of venues, but I think I like shooting CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium best. They have a really good pit set up.
TC3DC. Do you prefer daytime or nighttime shoots?
WM. I like daytime shoots because you get better quality photos in natural light, but I enjoy the challenge of nighttime too. The different colored lights and special effects really test my skills and give me the opportunity to learn new techniques all the time.
TC3DC. Is there a favorite band or artist that you like to photograph?
WM. It was so hard to pick a favorite band to shoot, but I think for country shows, it has to be Dierks Bentley and The Cadillac Three. Partially because the guys in those bands are great and always make sure I get some cool shots, and for some reason, I always get a little bit lucky shooting them. Some of my best shots are of Dierks and TC3. On the rock concert side, I like to shoot Godsmack and Five Finger Death Punch. Again, a little bit of luck and a little bit of cooperation on the part of the band. As a photographer, you have to really appreciate that.
TC3DC. Is there a band or artist you haven't shot yet but would like to?
WM. The one band that's still on my photography bucket list is Iron Maiden. I am dying to shoot one of their shows.
TC3DC. What other types of photography do you enjoy?
WM. Besides concert photography, I enjoy nature and macro photography. I REALLY love macro. There's nothing better than getting such a close up shot of music gear or insects. You see so many things you would never see with the naked eye.
TC3DC. Do you have any tips for a budding music photographer just starting out?
WM. My advice to someone thinking about getting into music photography is this, "Don't." Of course, I'm kidding, but I think some people think it's one big party to shoot concerts. It's actually a lot of hard work. There's a lot of waiting around and sometimes it's in very hot weather. You fight crowds and intoxicated people. I've had my equipment damaged by drunk people. It can be very stressful. Band managers all have different rules for photographers. Sometimes they're easy going and other times, they're really strict and it makes getting good shots difficult. I would also tell someone starting out to learn how to use every aspect of your equipment, and not to shoot a live show until you really know what you're doing. Never believe that you're the best, because there's always someone better, and don't make it a competition. Make friends with other photographers and learn from them, and in return, help them out with any tricks you've figured out. I've made some great friends and we all lift each other up.
TC3DC. Which publications or websites regularly publish your work?
WM. I shoot regularly for thinkcountrymusic.com and thinkcountry.co.uk. Annette Gibbons is so passionate about her website and that keeps me on my game. I want to make sure she gets the best photos I can produce, and in addition, she's a very good friend to me and my wife. When you have a good relationship with the outlet, it just makes it so much better.
TC3DC. Can people hire you for a shoot, and how?
WM. I can be hired for photo shoots. In addition to concerts, nature and macro, I do head shots, promo shots and photos of children. The one thing I won't shoot is weddings. No Bridezillas for me!
TC3DC. Is there anyone you admire in the world of photography, that maybe influenced you into doing what you do today?
WM. My biggest influence in photography is Jared Polin. He runs a website called froknowsphoto.com, and almost everything I've learned is from him. He presents very technical material in plain English, and the guy is a bit of a comedian. Makes it fun to learn. I owe this guy a beer if I ever run into him.
TC3DC. Does living near Nashville make it a dream job?
WM. Living in Nashville certainly helps when it comes to being a music photographer. After all, it IS Music City. There's always something to photograph. I doubt the connections I've made here could have been better in any other city on the planet. That said, I did shoot concerts back in New York and in many other cities across the country - there's always a need for concert photographers everywhere. Nashville, though, is the icing on the cake. In my opinion, it just doesn't get better than it is here. I'm grateful.
Thank you to William McClintic for talking with us at the TC3 Drinking Club.