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Local Entertainment Photographer Steven Sanchez Publishes Book

IN THE December 11 ISSUE

FROM THE 2019 Articles,
andBooks & Tales,
andLorie Lewis Ham,
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by Lorie Lewis Ham

Local entertainment photographer and filmmaker Steven Sanchez, who has covered many shows for KRL, recently released his first book, Rock and Roll For Everybody: A Photographic Tour of Today’s Bands. We took a moment to chat with him about it this week.

KRL: When did you first get interested in photography and how?

Steven: It first started when I was the newspaper photographer for my high school. That was my first step in getting behind a camera, because I’m an aspiring filmmaker, and my favorite directors started by picking up cameras and shooting short films. I wanted to emulate that so that’s what led me to photograph events like dances and sporting events on campus.

KRL: When did you start taking photos professionally?

Steven: It began when I worked for a local rock radio station. As a promotions coordinator, one of my responsibilities was to take photos of the concerts we either put on or were associated with and those photos would be posted on the social media sites and website. From then on that’s when it grew from a job to an interest and then a passion, to where my mother gave me her Nikon D3200 and there was no looking back after that.

Steven Sanchez holding his new book

KRL: What drew you to wanting to take photos of bands in concert?

Steven: It first happened to me because it was my job. But then I realized that I grew up on images of the bands I loved. I grew up reading Rolling Stone magazine and other music related magazines, and seeing posters and fliers on the walls of music shops. Seeing those bands perform live through the magic of a photo is what helped shape my perception of the music and how I viewed it. There’s just something magical about an image with the subject being someone rocking out with a guitar in hand, banging the drums, or singing so loud it looks like their head is about to explode. You made a connection with the bands you loved by seeing images of them on the album covers or the sleeves. As I did my research I saw that the photos that were ingrained into my head of my music idols were done by legends like Annie Leibovitz, Mick Rock, Bob Gruen, Anton Corbijn, and the list goes on. I wanted to capture that same magic with my own style.

KRL: How do you decide what bands you would like to cover?

Steven: I grew up a rocker, so I automatically gravitate towards that genre. It’s best to be eclectic so I went from starting out doing mostly rock bands to now I do different ones across the board from hip-hop, indie, alternative, acoustic, etc. I first look online on who’s coming to town and I try to cover bands that I like and that I’m a fan of. Another pleasure about doing this job is that a group or an artist comes to town that you may never heard of, but they interest you enough to attend the show, and by the end of it, you’ve just become a fan. To extend on that remark, what keeps me going is that the next band I cover could possibly become the next big thing and you were able to capture them before that happens.

KRL: What do you have to do to prepare?

Steven: It’s all about being organized. Make sure your batteries are charged, you have the lenses you need, and plenty of memory cards, things like that. And make sure you dress for the occasion, know whether if the show is indoors or outdoors, and if it’s going to be warm dress cool, and if it’s cool then be sure to dress warm. Believe me, it’s all in the details so preparation is key.

KRL: Did you teach yourself or did you study photography?

Steven: It was 50/50 to be quite honest. As I was doing more shows, I wanted to hone my skills so I took a photography class at Clovis Community College. It was Basic Photography where I was taught the essentials like what aperture was or shutter speed. The students also studied its history and the different styles like nature and portraits. I highly recommend taking Kirtley King’s class, he knows his stuff.

And the rest I had to figure out myself. Surprisingly, there isn’t any class curriculum where they teach about music photography. That along with sports photography are the most challenging in which to accomplish, but there aren’t classes or books that teach you how. That’s what inspired me to want to do my book. So, I had to look online and find blogs on people who’ve done live photography and take notes on how they did it. Which setting they had their camera on or what lens to use, which ISO, shutter speed, things like that. So, I applied that to my photography and I learned as I was going along.music

KRL: Have you gotten to meet any of your favorites? If so, who and what was that like?

Steven: I got to meet Stephan Jenkins, the lead singer of Third Eye Blind and we talked about politics as he was performing a free show for Andrew Janz’s political campaign. I got to meet the members of A Day to Remember before they played a game of KanJam. Shaking hands with vocalist Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. and telling him how much his music meant to me was a cool moment. Interviewing Brian “Head” Welch, the guitarist of Korn, and his daughter Jennea, about drug addiction, overcoming trauma, and seeking salvation through religion was a very thought provoking conversation. I ran into Jackson Browne, he told me his first wife had family in Fresno so he used to visit here while he was eating chocolate cake, that was a fun interaction. I would have to say my most memorable interview was with Rudy Sarzo. He’s a bassist who has played with Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, and Whitesnake, he is rock royalty. He’s a Hispanic like me, he’s Cuban, and he was telling me about growing up an immigrant, his friendship with guitar aficionado Randy Rhoads, and the glory days of the LA music scene. Just getting the chance to talk to him was inspiring.

KRL: What is your most unusual story from taking these type of photos?

Steven: I’ve never had too many unusual moments while on the job. More so unpleasant moments like I’ve had an audience member throw a cup of beer at me, but thankfully, there was very little. When Snow Tha Product was in town her and the other rappers on stage were throwing water and wine out into the audience, so I had to get out of there to make sure I didn’t get it on my camera. Besides that, nothing too unusual and I’d like to keep it that way.

KRL: What is the biggest challenge?

Steven: There’s a few to be quite honest and they’re all equal in my opinion. Just getting accepted into the show is a challenge itself. I look up the contact info of the band or artist’s representatives, manager or publicist, and contact them by email to introduce myself and ask them if I’m granted permission to cover the concert. Usually at big venues like arenas there’s a media pit between in front of the stage and the barricade for crowd control, so you have all this room to work with to get the best photo. Small venues like Strummer’s or Fulton 55 don’t have that. You’re there with the rest of the fans right by a moshpit or people jumping up and down around you, which can be a little frustrating. Sometimes at some of these shows, the lighting is bad so when you have that more than likely your photos are not going to turn out good. For some bigger acts, you’re only allowed three songs and no flash. And sometimes the show doesn’t pick up or the lighting gets better after the third song so that can be disappointing. You’re trying to capture the perfect shot and the musician moves out of frame is bothersome, but understandable, because they’re there to entertain the crowd they’re not focused on striking the perfect pose. They have the whole stage to work with so they’re going to move around a lot, so you have to have steady hands and a good eye to capture them at the right moment.

For me the biggest challenge is dealing with the people. They’re there to have a good time, whether sober or not. They’re not concerned about your equipment or that you have a job to do, and if they feel that you’re in their way, sometimes they have very ungratifying ways of expressing how they feel. They’ll flag you down so you can get a picture of them. I usually make it a priority to be cool with the attendees. They see you being one of the only few people there with a camera so you automatically attract their interest so they want to know what you do and stuff like that. As long as you’re cool with everybody then it’s usually a fun experience.

KRL: What do you enjoy most about it?

Steven: That I’m doing something that I’ve loved ever since I was young. I’m passionate about filmmaking and music and this is a way for me to combine the two together. I get to go to the shows for free which is icing on the cake.

KRL: Who are some of the bands you have covered?

Steven: I’ve had the privilege of photographing some well-known local talent from the Central Valley. I like Days Under Authority, they’re a hard rock alternative band and they have a bright future ahead of them. Kat The Artist is a singer/songwriter that’s on the rise. Prey 4 Reign is a heavy metal band and they put on a good show.

I’ve photographed Kiss, Bob Seger, 3 Doors Down, Collective Soul, Godsmack, Hinder, Third Eye Blind, Sammy Hagar, Silversun Pickups, P.O.D., Lisa Loeb, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Styx, Halestorm, Bone Thugs –N– Harmony, Lit, Buckcherry, A Day to Remember, Ghost, Trapt, Puddle of Mudd, B2K, Lloyd, Mario, Ying Yang Twins, The Raconteurs, Blue October, The Doobie Brothers, and Smash Mouth.

KRL: What are your future goals with your photography?

Steven: I’m a filmmaker and that’s what got me started in photography in the first place. My goal is to have this lead into a movie making career. I want to be a director, writer, producer, and run my own production company so I can make the movies I want. I believe doing photography right now can be a good foundation that leads to that. Also, I have enough material to do another follow up concert book. And I’ve done sports and stand–up comedy photography so those can be books as well down the road.

KRL: Who is someone you haven’t photographed that you would love to?

Steven: I have a big list. I could’ve done Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, and Metallica when they came to town but I didn’t meet the Save Mart Center people until right after those shows so I was bummed out that I just barely missed the boat. It’s just wish fulfillment but I’d like to photograph legends like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, chances are unlikely but I still have hope. My favorite band is REM but they’re not together, but there’s been a lot of bands who’ve been reuniting lately, so if they do, you bet I’ll be there trying to get a photo of them.

KRL: Where can people find your book?

Steven: You can purchase the book online on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound.

KRL: Where can people find you online?

Steven: Facebook: facebook.com/steven.sanchez.12177

Instagram: instagram.com/stevensanchez5807

YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCiT-yXVf3XlY9PbyoCmUBvg

Links to purchase the book:

If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link:

barnesandnoble.com/w/rock-roll-for-everybody-steven-sanchez/1132884044?ean=9781682034187#

Rock & Roll for Everybody: A Photographic Tour of Today’s Bands | IndieBound.org

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

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