Look at this photograph: AU student Sophie Macaluso on capturing concerts

With concerts coming back, so are the photographers that document their work

Look at this photograph: AU student Sophie Macaluso on capturing concerts
King Princess by Sophie Macaluso

In a digital era dominated by Instagram and Snapchat, taking pictures functions as a primary outlet of expression. But when it comes down to one single still shot, how do you capture the dynamic essence of a performing artist?

“Getting a feel for the environment, knowing the songs they’re going to play and being prepared for that,” junior Sophie Macaluso answered. 

Macaluso has an extensive portfolio when it comes to photography. While many American University students rely on her for their graduation photos and professional headshots, Macaluso has also made a name for herself in the world of music photography. 

For her, shooting concerts began in 2017 as a passion project. Originally from Maryland, Macaluso would connect with her friends at the local radio station in order to gain access to intimate music venues where she was able to photograph smaller concerts.

“[They] were really great to get experience, because you could be right up next to the stage, and you don’t need a press pass,” she said.

Her striking work — which has recently featured artists such as King Princess and Japanese Breakfast — has landed her in a number of noteworthy jobs, including becoming a contributor to DC’s Capitol Sound blog. And while the past year and its coronavirus complications have proven difficult for her line of work, as it has for most artists, Macaluso has joined countless others in gaining a sense of gratitude from the lack of in-person events. 

“Even before COVID, I just wanted to be doing this all the time,” she said. “Not having concerts made me realize how much I love them and miss them.”

Of course, Macaluso does have her own musical favorites. For her, shooting performers is an act of her own love, so she tends to gravitate toward artists that she has an emotional connection to. 

“I photographed Mac DeMarco about a year, or two years ago, who is one of my favorite artists of all time… I was very happy about that, and it felt full circle that I was able to be at the show and be doing it,” Macaluso said.

Other concerts she’s enjoyed covering include those of Rex Orange County and Kim Petras. Aside from her work as a music photographer, Macaluso’s multitude of talents have also found her engaged in campaigns as a political photographer. She’s also had a stint shooting for the brand Sweetgreen.

Going forward, Macaluso wants to do everything she can to keep music photography a part of her life. From becoming a full-fledged career to acting as a side hobby, Macaluso is ready to see where the tides take her.

“In a dream world, I would do a year or something after college ... touring with one band. I don’t have an ideal band, but just getting to be their photographer would be such a cool experience,” she said. “I definitely — no matter what career I go into — I definitely also want to keep doing [photography].”

While currently a political science major, Macaluso is leaving doors to the future wide open. Like her work indicates, she’s prepared for any opportunity that is presented to her. But as for now, she is simply content to be stepping back into the reopening, revitalized concert scene. 


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