Over the last seven years, Austin-based photographer Sandy Carson estimates he’s seen over 3,000 live music shows. Though many were shot on assignment for music festivals like ACL Fest, SXSW, Pyschefest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, each averaging about 50 assignments per festival weekend, some were shows Carson attended on his own in-between assignments. Though his clients asked to see shots of the performing musicians, Carson had some control over which bands he photographed. He targeted bands with die-hard and animated fans, so even if he wasn’t particularly interested in the music, he knew he’d get great shots of the audience. Working with both a Mamiya 7 and a point-n-shoot Yashica T4, Carson used only available light since most bands/venues have a “no flash” rule. When asked if Carson had any memorable moments to share, Carson told PDN via email “too many… but yeah, [it was] probably seeing and shooting Slayer with a barrier that was caving in from fans and photographers moshing in the photo pit, who were being showered with stage divers.”
Carson was born in Scotland, but emigrated to the United States in 1993 to pursue cycling. He spent 15 years as a professional BMX rider, shooting on the side. He has since exhibited his fine art work nationally and internationally and published his first monograph, Hurricane Ike, Paradise Has Relocated, in 2010. His commercial and editorial clients include Virgin, Nike, Disney, The New York Times, The Guardian, Rolling Stone and GQ.