David Simchock

14th Annual Artist Concert Photography Winner
14th Annual Artist Concert Photography Winner
(for a separate photo)
13th Annual Artist Concert Photo Winner
13th Annual Artist Concert Photo Nominee
12th Annual Artist Concert Photo Winner
12th Annual Artist Concert Photo Vox Pop Winner

14th Winning Piece: Bootsy Collins –
LEAF Festival (May 2014) – (See Above)
14th Nominated Piece: Xavier Rudd –
The Orange Peel (Asheville)
Vote Now For This Artist At The 14th Vox Pop

13th Winning Piece:
Ozomatli – LEAF Festival (May 2013)
13th Nominated Piece:
John Butler Trio – FloydFest 12 (July 2013)
See Them & More At The 13th Vox Pop

12th Winning Piece: Trombone Shorty & Orleans
Avenue (Troy Andrews)
See It & More At The 12th Vox Pop Jukebox


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13th Annual:
Company Name:  David Simchock Photography

Home Base: Asheville, North Carolina USA

Category Entered:  Artist Concert Photography

Describe your nominated work: I am very fortunate to have two images nominated for an IMA.  The first is a “jump shot” of Wil-Dog, the bass player in L.A.-based, multi-dimensional band, Ozomatli.  It was captured at one of my favorite festivals in the region – the LEAF Festival (held twice per year in beautiful Black Mountain, very near to Asheville, NC).  I’ve photographed Ozomatli a couple of times before, and knew how dynamic their performances can be (every member of the band is quite active on stage).  Toward the end of their gig, I had a feeling that Wil-Dog was going to do something special.  I was prepared with one of my Nikons, equipped with a super-wide lens, and anticipated what you see in the image – a high-kicking jump directly toward me, almost introducing his foot to my D700.  The trick was to track his quick movements, keeping the focus on his face.  This was not an easy task, but I think it worked out well (well enough for Wil-Dog to re-tweet it after the gig!).

The second image is one of John Butler (John Butler Trio) at the 2013 FloydFest in Floyd, Virginia.  FloydFest is similar to the LEAF Festival (music, visual arts and healing arts), except much larger. It, too, is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but about four hours north of Asheville.  John Butler has got to be one of the most passionate artists out there, putting as much into his life as he does into his music and performance.  Though only a trio, there is no shortage of raw energy at a JBT gig.  This moment catches him mid-lyric, sweat flying off of his face, muting his 12-string slide as he weaves his band, and his audience, through one of his many catchy and often thought-provoking compositions.

How did you get involved with this project?:  I am a staff photographer / volunteer for the LEAF organization, and cover their festival twice per year.  For the JBT / FloydFest shot, I was covering the event for Elmore Magazine.

What was the concept & process? Did you & the band collaborate?: There was no artist collaboration in either nominated shot.  I was covering the gigs as a concert / festival photographer.

Was the design/image you created used in any other promotional materials for the artist? Please describe:  The Ozomatli shot is not currently being used by the artist, but it is used by the LEAF Festival folks.  The JBT image was created for Elmore Magazine.

Describe what it was like working with the musical artist:  From a concert photographer’s viewpoint, Ozomatli is a joy to photograph.  With so much activity on stage from seven or eight members, it can be difficult to keep up with everything and everyone while peering through the view-finder of my camera.  The John Butler Trio, with only three members, is much easier to follow around the stage, but there is not shortage of energy in every song and in every set!

What other independent music projects have you worked on?: Countless concerts and festivals.  My work can be found in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archives (from 2010 Jazz Fest), in numerous publications around the world, and on quite a few artist on-line sites.  Artists that I have photographed range from Pavarotti to Roger Waters to BB King to, of course, Ozomatli and the John Butler Trio.

 Which musician’s would you like to work with next?: Wow.  I’ve photographed hundreds of artists and events, so this is a tough one.  I’d still love the opportunity to shoot a Rolling Stones gig.  But, on a smaller level, I’m a big fan of both Scott Matthews and of Alexi Murdoch – two Brits who don’t seem to make it Stateside too often, if ever.

What role will album art/photography play in a digital/streaming world?: People are drawn to imagery now more than ever.  We live in an instant gratification world, where less and less time is spent “reading” (just look at the likes of Twitter!), and more and more time is spent “looking”.   The art of photography is more accessible now than it has ever been.  In some shape or form, everybody has a “camera”, even if it’s just an iPhone.  With more cameras, and more “photographers”, come more digital files and, regrettably, more “noise” when it comes to quality digital imagery, particularly in the “concert photography” world.  On a personal level, this serves to motivate me even more, as the cream will rise to the top, regardless of how many gazillion concert photos are out there.

How have changes in the music industry affected your career & art?: Ha!  With the digital age has come the age of “free”!  The likes of Google have revolutionized how digital data is used, and sold, or in many cases, given away.  Musicians are well aware of this, with more and more of them literally giving away CDs or downloads in order to build their fan base.  This lack of artist income, of course, rolls down to the supporting industries like “photography”.  The less money that is in it for the artists that are performing, the even less money that is in it for those who are photographing the artists.  It’s just a fact of life.  Having said that, where there is a will, there is a way, and I am slowing but surely breaking into bigger and bigger things with my concert photography.  Watch this space!

Why did you choose to submit to the 13th IMAs?: As the winner of both the Judges and Vox Pop voting in 2013, I thought that it was important to follow-up with a submission (or two) in 2014.  I am very fortunate to have had two of my images nominated this year.

What photographers/graphic designers/artists inspire you?: Bryan Peterson is my photography hero / role model.  Though not a “concert photographer”, he is doing many things that I aspire to do myself and, in some cases, I am well on my way to getting there (e.g., my photography instruction business, Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours http://www.VagabondVistas.com).

What’s your most memorable achievement to date?: Winning the Judges and Vox Pop voting in last year’s IMA, of course!  I’m also very proud to have my work in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archives (2010 Jazz Fest).  I’ve also had an image on the cover of R2 magazine in the UK, featuring a live shot of Alison Krauss.  On another level, one of my travel photographs was featured as the “lead photo” above the fold in the New York Times Travel Section (December 2003).

Finish this sentence: the music industry is…still adapting to a digital world.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year?: I’ll continue to pursue concert and festival assignments for publication, but I’m also on the verge of launching my own “music blog” website, called Front Row Focus (www.FrontRowFocus.com).  I expect it to be launched by the end of April 2014.  It is a collaborative effort between me and my lovely partner, Beth (who will be writing much of the copy – concert / festival previews and reviews; CD reviews, etc.)

Where can fans find your work?: Best bet is to start with my business website:  www.DavidSimchock.com  I also have a huge presence on Flickr with my concert work:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidsimchock/sets/72157624492567124/  Once Front Row Focus goes live, I’ll be using that as my main platform to show my music work.  For those interested in learning photography from me, check out the Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours website.  I’ll soon be announcing a photo tour at the Montreal Jazz Festival, where I will teach others the tricks of the trade, and what it takes to be an award-winning music photographer.