Kansas City, Missouri is home to plenty of greats, whether it’s mouth watering BBQ, flavorful craft breweries, smooth jazz music or the Royals professional baseball team. A flourishing center of the arts, it’s also where our latest featured photographer hangs his hat.
Today we’re talking with Jason Squires, the latest in our Photographer Spotlight series. Squires has received a boatload of praise for his work photographing famous musicians, as well as live sporting and social events. Like the performers he captures on stage, he wields the camera like a musical instrument. Take one look at his work and like us you’ll agree — his photos are incredible.
We sat down with Jason Squires to pick his brain a bit and find out more about him, how he got started, and exactly what kind of gear he uses to help him capture the perfect shot.
How did you get started in photography?
I’ve always been really interested in learning how things work and trying new things. I can remember my grandfather teaching me how to make a double exposure on his old 35mm camera in 5th grade. That really put the power and art of photography out in front of me.
I taught myself pretty much everything I know. It was a lot of experimentation and a lot of wasted film. I got pointers here and there and then I expanded on them. Things just fell into place. I had a photography class in high school but by that time I was too advanced for it. I would just sit and chat with the teacher the whole period. My first love was surreal looking landscapes and night photography. That was my specialty, long night exposures. I guess all my experience with low light helped transition to concerts.
I loved music and I loved photography, but never thought of putting them together before. When I was a senior in high school, on a whim, I asked to shoot Dave Matthews Band in Ames, IA. Somehow, I got approved and that’s what started my career as a professional music photographer.
It was a whole lot of luck and a whole lot of persistence. And, it was probably that my photos weren’t horrible either. I’m not going to say they were awesome, or even good, but I’m confident they worked for what the editors wanted. I assume if they were horrible people wouldn’t have hired me in the first place.
It is really tough to get into the business because it is just one big merry-go-round. You need an impressive portfolio to get publications to buy your images. To get that portfolio you need credentials to shoot. To get credentials, you need to be shooting for a publication. Round and round we go.
What was the DSLR you first started shooting with?
What’s in your camera bag?
- Canon 5D Mark III (x2)
- Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L
- Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flash x2
- Various PocketWizards and other accessories
Camera you’re currently using?
My current cameras are Canon 5D Mark III. They perform very well for me in most shooting conditions I encounter.
Which phone do you currently use?
Laptop you’re using?
- Dell XPS 15 – Intel Core i9, 32GB RAM, and 4K display
Future camera gear you have your eye on?
I think mirrorless cameras are the future. I’ll have to look hard at that technology when I upgrade next.
What’s your favorite thing to shoot and why?
You can tell by now I love photographing concerts. Few aspects are under your control so it is up to you to make the photos unique. If you feel like you were at the show when you look at my photos I’ve done my job.
What’s the most challenging part about your work?
The easy joke to make is I spend most of my time corresponding with publicists and marketing departments and waiting around a lot. If there’s time left over maybe I’ll take a few photos.
What advice can you give for someone looking to get into the same field?
Journalism is a tough gig these days. Hone your skills and find a good corporate client. Don’t expect to get rich only shooting music. It can happen but it is extremely rare.
Where can people find you online?
Come see me at jasonsquires.com.
Celebrating the launch of Swappa’s new camera marketplace, our Photographer Spotlight series allows us to feature the work of our favorite photographers from around the net.
Although the majority of what makes a great comes down to raw talent and know-how, having the right gear certainly helps. To get started shopping used Canon, used Nikon, or used lenses, hit the link below to find the best deals around.