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FAVORITE PHOTOS OF 2018

I wasn’t originally going to do a favorite shots of 2018 post, because this year has consisted of me being incredibly hard on myself and my creative pursuits.

After a lot of reflection, I’ve realized that I’ve been too focused on “big breaks” and keeping up a certain momentum at all times. I have accepted that I’ve come a really long way over the course of a long period of time and series of wonderful events and opportunities, and I am proud of myself.

2018 was truly an incredible year for me and I’m beyond grateful for it all. While I’m going into 2019 with a sense of uncertainty, I have so much faith that it will all come together as it’s supposed to.

Here are my favorite photos of 2018!


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Travis Scott

Travis Scott

Halsey

Halsey

Okeechobee Music Festival

I got the amazing opportunity to cover Okeechobee Music Festival for Stage Right Secrets in March and it was a truly memorable experience. While I didn’t have a photo pass, I had a media pass which allowed me to interview artists and bring in a DSLR. I shot bunch of performances from the crowd with a 70-300 and got a ton of great shots.

The Contortionist - Clairvoyant Tour - Lake Park, FL   Went to three dates of the Clairvoyant Tour to see Silent Planet, and ended up falling in love with The Contortionist. After shooting all the FL dates of the tour, I felt really unmotivated and exhausted at the idea of looking through and editing anything. I had just looked through 10,000 photos and edited close to 300 from Okeechobee Music Festival earlier that month, so I ended up sitting on a large majority of these photos. I ended up revisiting them one night and kicked myself for not editing them sooner. The colors I was able to achieve in post really floored me.

The Contortionist - Clairvoyant Tour - Lake Park, FL

Went to three dates of the Clairvoyant Tour to see Silent Planet, and ended up falling in love with The Contortionist. After shooting all the FL dates of the tour, I felt really unmotivated and exhausted at the idea of looking through and editing anything. I had just looked through 10,000 photos and edited close to 300 from Okeechobee Music Festival earlier that month, so I ended up sitting on a large majority of these photos. I ended up revisiting them one night and kicked myself for not editing them sooner. The colors I was able to achieve in post really floored me.

The Plot In You - Cold Like War Tour - Ft. Lauderdale, FL   DISPOSE by The Plot in You was my album of the year for 2018. I was so excited to be able to photograph them and year them play all my favorite tracks. I was excited about this shot because of the way the colors compliment each other.

The Plot In You - Cold Like War Tour - Ft. Lauderdale, FL

DISPOSE by The Plot in You was my album of the year for 2018. I was so excited to be able to photograph them and year them play all my favorite tracks. I was excited about this shot because of the way the colors compliment each other.

Vans Warped Tour Day 0 - Pomona, CA   This was taken at the end of pre-production day of the last full cross country Vans Warped Tour. That day I got to see almost much everyone in the music industry I love and consider a friend, run errands, pick up credentials, get free shoes, and get better acquainted with Doll Skin. After I was done for the day I walked around with my good friend Imani before she had to leave for the night and took some photos as the sunset. I love this photo because it reminds me of that wonderful day and the start of one the best summers of my life.

Vans Warped Tour Day 0 - Pomona, CA

This was taken at the end of pre-production day of the last full cross country Vans Warped Tour. That day I got to see almost much everyone in the music industry I love and consider a friend, run errands, pick up credentials, get free shoes, and get better acquainted with Doll Skin. After I was done for the day I walked around with my good friend Imani before she had to leave for the night and took some photos as the sunset. I love this photo because it reminds me of that wonderful day and the start of one the best summers of my life.

Doll Skin - Vans Warped Tour - Virginia Beach, VA   This is a favorite of mine because when I was younger and dreamed of being on a tour like Warped Tour with a band as their photographer, this is the type of shot I imagined being able to take. This was an incredible day for the band, and looking back it just makes me feel super thankful for the opportunity that I got to document them.

Doll Skin - Vans Warped Tour - Virginia Beach, VA

This is a favorite of mine because when I was younger and dreamed of being on a tour like Warped Tour with a band as their photographer, this is the type of shot I imagined being able to take. This was an incredible day for the band, and looking back it just makes me feel super thankful for the opportunity that I got to document them.

Vans Warped Tour - Salt Lake City, UT   After finishing my part of load out I walked around and took photos of the scenery around the venue. Like a lot of my photos, I really didn’t think much of it until I started working on it in post. When I was done, I loved it. It made me feel proud of myself and everything I did that day.  I love this photo because it really embodies Warped Tour Salt Lake City. The beautiful scenery, the load in and load out over gravel uphill, with My Children My Bride playing “On The Wings Of Integrity” in the background as a pit opens up.

Vans Warped Tour - Salt Lake City, UT

After finishing my part of load out I walked around and took photos of the scenery around the venue. Like a lot of my photos, I really didn’t think much of it until I started working on it in post. When I was done, I loved it. It made me feel proud of myself and everything I did that day.

I love this photo because it really embodies Warped Tour Salt Lake City. The beautiful scenery, the load in and load out over gravel uphill, with My Children My Bride playing “On The Wings Of Integrity” in the background as a pit opens up.

Alex from Doll Skin - Vans Warped Tour - Wantagh, NY   Tour Managing and doing photography for Doll Skin this summer was an absolute dream. Weirdly enough I didn’t really like a lot of my live photos of them most of the time. I’m incredibly picky about the work I put out publicly and am really obsessive about  the color, composition, and focus of every photo. But the set from the Wantagh, NY date of Warped really excited me! I got more aggressive cutting through the crowd during the circle pit during “Punch a Nazi” and got one of my favorite shots of the whole tour. My favorite thing about it is that you can truly feel that everyone is having the time of their life in the photo.

Alex from Doll Skin - Vans Warped Tour - Wantagh, NY

Tour Managing and doing photography for Doll Skin this summer was an absolute dream. Weirdly enough I didn’t really like a lot of my live photos of them most of the time. I’m incredibly picky about the work I put out publicly and am really obsessive about the color, composition, and focus of every photo. But the set from the Wantagh, NY date of Warped really excited me! I got more aggressive cutting through the crowd during the circle pit during “Punch a Nazi” and got one of my favorite shots of the whole tour. My favorite thing about it is that you can truly feel that everyone is having the time of their life in the photo.

Nicole from Doll Skin and Chase Atlantic in Atlanta, GA.    Doll Skin and Chase Atlantic’s friendship on Warped Tour was one of my favorite things during the summer. I am a huge fan of Chase Atlantic’s music so it was cool to see or hear their live set every day. Chase Atlantic’s last day on Warped was in Atlanta due to them being booked to play Lollapalooza that weekend. They invited all their friends and crew to come up on stage and have a party. Unfortunately, it had been pouring rain all day and the Owly stage was running a behind by about 30 minutes, and most people had no idea what set times were looking like after their band played.   After trying to stay dry for a bit, I started walking back to the RV from the Amphitheater, heard Chase Atlantic playing in the distance, and headed over in that direction instead. It was drizzling, but I shot their last couple songs trusting that it wouldn’t hurt my camera much as long as I didn’t change lenses or get water in the area near the top LCD. During their last song Nicole and Sydney came on stage to jump around to “Okay” and throw water around and it was magical.   I rarely go through photos in camera because I can’t get a real feel for sharpness and blur through viewfinders, but while editing I knew to immediately to through the photos from their last song and I found this gem. My favorite thing about the photo is that it really embodies how much fun the Doll Skin girl’s had on Warped and all the great friends they made along the way.

Nicole from Doll Skin and Chase Atlantic in Atlanta, GA.

Doll Skin and Chase Atlantic’s friendship on Warped Tour was one of my favorite things during the summer. I am a huge fan of Chase Atlantic’s music so it was cool to see or hear their live set every day. Chase Atlantic’s last day on Warped was in Atlanta due to them being booked to play Lollapalooza that weekend. They invited all their friends and crew to come up on stage and have a party. Unfortunately, it had been pouring rain all day and the Owly stage was running a behind by about 30 minutes, and most people had no idea what set times were looking like after their band played.

After trying to stay dry for a bit, I started walking back to the RV from the Amphitheater, heard Chase Atlantic playing in the distance, and headed over in that direction instead. It was drizzling, but I shot their last couple songs trusting that it wouldn’t hurt my camera much as long as I didn’t change lenses or get water in the area near the top LCD. During their last song Nicole and Sydney came on stage to jump around to “Okay” and throw water around and it was magical.

I rarely go through photos in camera because I can’t get a real feel for sharpness and blur through viewfinders, but while editing I knew to immediately to through the photos from their last song and I found this gem. My favorite thing about the photo is that it really embodies how much fun the Doll Skin girl’s had on Warped and all the great friends they made along the way.

Doll Skin Warped Tour West Palm Beach   My biggest regret from Warped is not doing more portrait content with Doll Skin. They were one of the hardest working bands on the tour. As their TM I valued their free time above all. As their photographer there were times I wanted to say “I have this cool concept! Let’s shoot!”.   As Warped Tour winded down, I tried to get in as many portrait shoots in people different people as possible and the band was down to let me shoot portraits with them before the end of the tour. Once we did it was so fun and easy. It was definitely a learning lesson that as a tour photographer it’s important to deliver a variety of portrait, candid, and live content of the artist and find your “when to shoot” moments early on.  I love this photo because it’s a reminder of how great Warped Tour was for Doll Skin. Additionally, Kevin Lyman was walking by during this shoot and jumped in (see below) and it was another wonderful moment.

Doll Skin Warped Tour West Palm Beach

My biggest regret from Warped is not doing more portrait content with Doll Skin. They were one of the hardest working bands on the tour. As their TM I valued their free time above all. As their photographer there were times I wanted to say “I have this cool concept! Let’s shoot!”.

As Warped Tour winded down, I tried to get in as many portrait shoots in people different people as possible and the band was down to let me shoot portraits with them before the end of the tour. Once we did it was so fun and easy. It was definitely a learning lesson that as a tour photographer it’s important to deliver a variety of portrait, candid, and live content of the artist and find your “when to shoot” moments early on.

I love this photo because it’s a reminder of how great Warped Tour was for Doll Skin. Additionally, Kevin Lyman was walking by during this shoot and jumped in (see below) and it was another wonderful moment.

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Dayseeker - Vans Warped Tour - Milwaukee, WI   Dayseeker was one of my favorite bands on Warped this summer. I caught their set almost every day. I would use shooting their set as a way to experiment with things I didn’t want to risk messing up during a Doll Skin set. I started messing around with double exposures a lot and while 90% of them were trash, this one I really love.

Dayseeker - Vans Warped Tour - Milwaukee, WI

Dayseeker was one of my favorite bands on Warped this summer. I caught their set almost every day. I would use shooting their set as a way to experiment with things I didn’t want to risk messing up during a Doll Skin set. I started messing around with double exposures a lot and while 90% of them were trash, this one I really love.

Vans Warped Tour - Tampa, FL   I took this after eating dinner with one of my best friends and talking about the entire summer on Warped from start to finish. I started watching the sunset as she threw away her plates and it just looked incredibly beautiful. On the way to dropping stuff off at the RV I joked “Damn this is what Movements was talking about   in ‘Daylily’”  I love this photo because it represents a beautiful end to such a wonderful and rewarding summer.

Vans Warped Tour - Tampa, FL

I took this after eating dinner with one of my best friends and talking about the entire summer on Warped from start to finish. I started watching the sunset as she threw away her plates and it just looked incredibly beautiful. On the way to dropping stuff off at the RV I joked “Damn this is what Movements was talking about in ‘Daylily’”

I love this photo because it represents a beautiful end to such a wonderful and rewarding summer.

Sunset Cliffs - San Diego, CA   Taken while on tour with in Your Memory. We had two shows and two off days in Southern California. We had pretty opposing interests and priorities at times on this run, but everyone agreed that going to Sunset Cliffs would be something fun to do and provide great content. It was actually incredibly overcast that day, but I beefed up few things in post and fell in love with this shot even more.

Sunset Cliffs - San Diego, CA

Taken while on tour with in Your Memory. We had two shows and two off days in Southern California. We had pretty opposing interests and priorities at times on this run, but everyone agreed that going to Sunset Cliffs would be something fun to do and provide great content. It was actually incredibly overcast that day, but I beefed up few things in post and fell in love with this shot even more.

Like Moths To Flames - O’Malley’s - Margate, FL   I had been excited to shoot this show all summer and it did not disappoint. Chris Roetter called out the crowd for being on their phones, kept yelling at everyone to move around, and things got really rowdy. I went flying across the room at one point,  but  before that I got this shot.  I love this shot because it’s incredibly sharp and I shot the entire show on manual focus. I was really proud looking through everything I shot that night.

Like Moths To Flames - O’Malley’s - Margate, FL

I had been excited to shoot this show all summer and it did not disappoint. Chris Roetter called out the crowd for being on their phones, kept yelling at everyone to move around, and things got really rowdy. I went flying across the room at one point, but before that I got this shot.

I love this shot because it’s incredibly sharp and I shot the entire show on manual focus. I was really proud looking through everything I shot that night.

Underoath - Erase Me Tour - Tampa, FL   I took a bit of a silent hiatus from photography in September and was incredibly rusty when this show came around. I was nervous about how to move around and what angles to shoot at to avoid getting in other photographer’s shots and as a result 98% of my shots from this show aren’t the best. During the end of the last song I was allowed in the photo pit for I got sick of the same “acceptable/minimally invasive places” and lifted my camera over the ego riser and got this shot. It was exciting capture something like this in 5 seconds and this moment definitely re-ignited a fire in me for music photography again.

Underoath - Erase Me Tour - Tampa, FL

I took a bit of a silent hiatus from photography in September and was incredibly rusty when this show came around. I was nervous about how to move around and what angles to shoot at to avoid getting in other photographer’s shots and as a result 98% of my shots from this show aren’t the best. During the end of the last song I was allowed in the photo pit for I got sick of the same “acceptable/minimally invasive places” and lifted my camera over the ego riser and got this shot. It was exciting capture something like this in 5 seconds and this moment definitely re-ignited a fire in me for music photography again.

Nicole StephensComment