What sparked your interest in photography?
Growing up, I really wasn’t interested in arts, I mean, I colored with colored pencils and crayons but that was about it. I originally lived in Northampton, Massachusetts and when I moved to Boston, I felt really alone, which is a little embarrassing to say. I didn’t make friends very easily, so photography served as this outlet. My dad had a camera he wasn’t using and I just picked it up. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it served as a lens into another world. It allowed me to see the world in another way other than the very negative way I was seeing my new surroundings. So that’s what sparked my interest, but at first it was just like, a lot of trees, and it was always on auto-focus, because I did not know what aperture or shutter speed was. I’m completely self taught; I’ve never taken a class or anything and I kind of pride myself on that. Obviously there is no fault in getting advice or help , but everything I know about aperture and shutter speed and ISO was just my own curiosity and researching online. Once I actually learned how to play around with that stuff, I began to not only just take a picture of my surroundings, but manipulate that whether it be through the settings on the camera or editing on Photoshop to make it into a whole new world, which is what I love about photography.
Since you do a lot of concert photography, do you find it hard to capture the sonic element in the final photo?
Concerts and music in particular are such a sonic enterprise, obviously. You have the drum line, you have to guitar chords, the piano chords, whatever. But what I think people overlook is the visual element that goes into putting on a good show. My favorite shows are the ones that tend to go through the House of Blues (2,500 capacity venue in Boston) I would say. It’s the perfect level of good show production but not overly compensating for something that you would see at like TD Garden ( 17,500 capacity arena in Boston). That really allows me to play off of what they invest into their show production. I recently saw St. Lucia and photographed them mid October. They have a phenomenal, detailed production, with cacti sitting on top of the drum heads, and the lighting was so consistently in tune with how you hear their music. And that ends up transferring to how you visualize their music. I also tend to play a lot with color because I don’t like taking black and white photos of musicians, unless it’s a poorly lit show. I like playing with the colors a lot because I think that the tones and the hues of the stage production can exude the personality of their live show and not just that but their sound as a whole.
St. Lucia in Boston by Adele Sakey
You recently went to the Boston Love Rally in light of the election, so how have you been coping and how do you want to take action?
From a photography standpoint, my main goal with photography as a whole is to capture the moments that mean the most to me and publicize those moments along with the people in them. I went to that rally with three of my good friends, one of which is of color and all of which are not straight. And I’m a woman, but I’m straight, I’m asexual, so that doesn’t really lead to any disadvantages for me. So we were all going to that situation with some sort of disadvantage but we all have some sort of privilege, so I think it’s important for all of us to use our privilege to speak up for people who are just completely blindsided by the recent election. The way I know how to stand up and speak and use my voice for these people is through photography. Whether it’s a minuscule 30 retweets on photos I took or it’s the whole world knowing, I think that step-by-step that can erase some of the stigma towards like, “This person won the election” because we don’t have to take that. We still have a voice. We can still stand up for one another and show support for one another despite that. I felt really empowered going to that because it wasn’t a protest. It was labeled as “the love rally” and people weren’t protesting. There was no hatred going on, not even towards Trump. It really was people coming together and forming this bond of “we are all disadvantaged in one way or another but we all have privilege and we are all going to stand up for the disadvantage in each other”. That’s how I kind of see concerts too. It’s this unified event where you are putting aside your differences and you are coming together to enjoy this period of time. It was just really beautiful, and I’m glad I could capture that in the way that I know how.
From the Boston Love Rally by Adele Sakey
Is there a favorite photography moment you’ve had?
One of the photos I took at the rally was this girl on her dad’s shoulders, and she looked kind of sad, as one would be in the situation, but at the same time, within that photo, I saw hope. I don’t even know how to explain it, I think it was the juxtaposition of the sad looking girl with the hope that she as a young person poses to this country. The hope transferred to myself and I think that was the whole purpose of that rally in particular. In terms of concert photography, there have been so many. I love it whenever a lead singer gets up in your face. Like John from St. Lucia did that, he jumped in front of my as I was taking the photo. The photo came out completely over exposed, but never the less, in those moments, the only barricade between you and the musician being your camera is kind of a beautiful thing to me.
From the Boston Love Rally by Adele Sakey
What do you love about the Boston music scene, in terms of music and photography?
Whenever I go to photograph a show it’s usually the same people that I see photographing every other show, which is really great because you tend to create this community. Even if it’s a show I normally wouldn’t have gone to if I wasn’t photographing it, you get this opportunity to bond with these like-minded individuals. It’s so great to have something in common, something as niche as concert photography. Aside from that, the community is definitely a major proponent of my love for Boston, and the shows that we get throughout the city makes me feel really grateful to live in such a rich and vibrant city, not even with just national acts but also local acts. The Ladles are one of my current favorites, but there’s so many. The music scene in general is so vibrant in Boston, I feel like it goes through phases of being kind of submerged and not really given the deserved amount of attention, but right now, I fell like its so lively and I’m so grateful to be living here in this moment. In terms of photographers in Boston I feel like there so so much talent, but not in a way that one photographer is being over shadowed by another, it’s just really supportive and I feel like my goal in life is not only to promote the musicians I love through concert photography but also the photographers that I love. So when I am given an opportunity, whether it be this opportunity I’ve been given with Interscope, or my continued work with Stitched Sound, and with the connections i’m making within the music industry I’m hoping to give those connections and provide opportunities to other photographers because i feel like that’s how the art moves forward and advances by uplifting one another rather than putting someone else down for your own benefit and i feel like that’s a strength of the Boston community.
Nightly in Boston by Adele Sakey
What are you listening to right now?
I’m always listening to Passion Pit. And this is really mainstream, but I love Starboy (ft Daft Punk) by The Weeknd. Other than that, I would say a lot of The Japanese House, they are a band that continues to inspire me and they are just so cool. Young the Giant‘s most recent release is always on repeat. Elohim is really really cool, I saw her at The Sinclair (in Boston) back in September. Her live show for being such a small artist is so advanced and spectacular that it made me fall more in love with her music. Also Bishop Briggs, who is an amazing up and coming artist who hasn’t even reached her peak yet. And I’m always listening to Toro y Moi, the new live album is the peak of excellence in my opinion. Since I’m a visual person, I know there’s a video but just listening to the audio of that, I can visualize it which I think is a really spectacular feat.
What advice would you give to a young girl who wants to start photography?
I think it’s really easy to get intimidated by the prices of photography in general, but even if it’s something as simple as picking up your iPhone, and snapping a few photos, that’s something that can advance easily into getting a disposable camera or a little handheld camera and then a DSLR. I think that although it’s easy to get intimidated, just working with what you have is the thing that I love most about photograph and I think it’s the thing that will propel you the furthest. Just do it; it’s so easy to avoid because intimidation, or because you may not know what you’re doing, so just take a class in it or google it. Everything’s there and there are so many great photographers. My favorite photographer is Nan Goldin, and there are so many great photographers to gather inspiration from. There’s really no shortage of inspiration when it comes to photography and I think that’s something great that a young photographer can work with, even if you don’t have a studio with lights or an expensive DSLR with a huge lens, just work with what you’ve been given.
Lany in Boston by Adele Sakey
What does being a Modern Girl mean to you?
I think people, specifically adults, tend to underestimate what young people, millennials, have to offer. But I really just love defying people’s expectations of me and exceeding those expectations and proving them wrong. I feel like since our generation is so large and passionate about everything we do, we have to ability to change our communities and form meaningful relationships through art, business, or whatever you want to do in life. I think specifically, as a woman, there are even less expectations for one’s self, which is all the more reason to defy that.
Interview by Kristen
Photos provided by Adele
Check out Adele’s work on Stitched Sound.