Behind the Lens

Written by, Lee Hoffman

You may not know me, but you probably know my work. Simply put, I take pictures. People seem to like them, so I keep doing them. I love music, almost all kinds, so deciding to take pictures of bands was easy. I actually started a long time ago, shooting bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Deep Purple and such when they came to town. I got paid for it too. Not handsomely, but enough. I’ve got a few stories from those days, buy me a beer and ask about them and maybe I’ll tell you one. Anyway, I started to get serious about music photography a few years ago. I’ve shot over 600 different bands since then and a large number of those are metal bands. There is a reason for that. Metal is just more exciting, the musicians, the fans, the music all combine to create great images. And in photography, great images are king.

Now, I’m about to talk about specific shows so if I don’t mention your band, don’t get butt-hurt. There have been so many shows, so these are either shows that have great photos or shows that had an impact on me.

-Havock at the Waiting Room. Their stuff was weird florescent colors. Looked stupid in real life but in the photos- awesome.


-Burn Book at Sugar City. This was my first time at this venue. Totally old school show, just a couple of mics and speakers on a stick. First ( and only ) time I’d seen Burn Book and they blew me away. Played for what seemed like 10 seconds and it was over. (It was about 20 minutes actually)


Super Killer Robots at the Tudor. 200 people packed into that place. I shot almost the whole show standing on the stairs to the stage, plastered to the speaker.


Lily Among Thorns at the Forvm. I was there for a metal show and I started talking to this sweet girl at the merch table. She told me about her band and her beliefs and I thought she was at the wrong show. Then she got on stage and showed me I was 100% wrong. They killed it!


Seven Faces at Hard Rock Cafe for Hard Rock Rising. First time I’d seen them. Now they are one of the bands I shoot as often as I can.-


The Paramedic at Broadway Joe’s-, three appearances ago- not the most popular choice these days, but they have 2 local boys in the band. Let’s face it, sometimes crazy works. That show they were 100% solid and everything just clicked.

Earlier I said I made money with music photography. That’s because I worked for a news outlet. It’s harder now. so much so that I decided that this time around, I wouldn’t charge for live music photography. I don’t want the hassles that come with a business- taxes, deadlines, clients and all that shit. However, I don’t mind if you buy me a beer or give me a shirt or cd.  I’m not above paying to get in although it’s nice when my entry is covered. Most promoters already let me in without paying and I appreciate that .  Shooting for free is not a popular stance in the music photography world, but it is what it is. If someone wants to put me on the payroll, handle all that other shit, and just let me shoot, go for it. But until then, I’m not going to charge.

One final thought-

I’d love to see bands support each other rather than bicker like siblings. Maybe someday they’ll figure out that working together, they can create something great. I see people trying to make this happen and I’m happy about it.


Lee Hoffman


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