Emily Steward is a junior graphic design student at TU. Outside of class, she runs the music blog OK Hustle and is a frequent photographer at concerts for local and national artists.
Last Thursday, Steward held an open house event for an exhibit of her concert photography at Fair Fellow Coffee at the corner of Admiral and Lewis. Across the coffee shop are 25 photos of local Tulsa artists like The Lonely’s, The Young Vines and The NeoRomantics on display and available for purchase.
Steward notes that the experience of working with local artists is often more intimate than with larger artists, saying that she is able to “[sit] down and [talk] about what the local bands’ dreams are and how I can help them reach them.” She also notes that it’s very helpful for a local band to have show photos for social media, saying that “they are so thankful that someone is out there to help them accomplish this, as they are busy playing the actual music.”
Concert photography, however, comes with unique challenges. Steward notes that a lack of control over the photo subjects, stage obstructions and lighting make concert photography more difficult than other styles. However, she finds that she “love[s] working around the challenge” and that the difficulty makes it “so rewarding when you get the right photo.”
The aspects of her photography that Steward values the most are capturing the lighting of the stage and the emotion of the artist. As she puts it, “my favorite photos always have a sort of dramatic light and a very real insight to what the musician is feeling.”
These two characteristics are clearly exemplified in the photos Steward has put on display. Her photos capture vibrant hues of blues, oranges and pinks. Even the black and white photos use light effectively, either to add emphasis to the artist or their instrument.
In terms of emotion, photos seem to capture anything from focus to anger to passion as artists sing and play. Almost all of the photos have only one artist in frame, placing all the attention on that one person and what they’re feeling as they perform.
As much as the photography is evidence of the musicians’ passion, it is also evidence of Steward’s. She found her way to concert photography by going to concerts and realizing that “I wanted to help put the show on, I wanted to be more [than an audience member].” Her passion for music preceded her introduction to the craft, and it shines through in her work.
Steward’s photography will be on display until September 30th, and she is currently working on another exhibit of film photography in November.