Behind the camera: Diego Figueroa

DSC01288Who are you? My name is Diego Figueroa, I’m 28, and I have worked so far with some of the best blogs and magazines in Mexico City such as Rolling Stone Mexico, Indie Rocks!, Sopitas.com and many more.

How did you get started? I was never the kid who used his dad’s camera at age 2, like almost all photographers seem to be. I liked taking photos but it was until university where I had two photography classes, I almost failed both of them because of the essays and homework, but my photos were good enough so I passed them. A year after I graduated I finally bought my own DSLR. Around that time I worked briefly at Universal Music, where I got to meet some local bands and I asked them if I could go to their shows with my camera, and some of them they said yes. I never thought on doing this more seriously, I only posted some photos on Flickr and a personal blog, but after a few shows for myself, the guy who ran Everything Live, a website focused on concerts in Mexico, asked me to help him shooting a few shows including NOFX, which was so much fun. After a few more shows for Everything Live I was asked months later to join the official photography team for the Vive Latino Festival’s website, the biggest festival in Mexico, and after that some more blogs and magazines, as well as bands, brands and promoters started asking me to work with them and that’s the story so far.

What’s in the bag?:

  • Cameras: Sony α99, Sony α850
  • Lenses: Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 G, 50mm f/1.4, 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye and a 2x tele-converter. I’ve also used a 300mm f/2.8, but that one will never fit in the bag.
  • Extras: A bunch of SD and CF cards for both cameras, backup batteries, cleaning cloth, earplugs, business cards and a notebook and pen for whatever comes to mind during gigs if I have to write a review.

Which photographers do you admire? Danny North is the best right now, period. His work is just perfect and is a true example of hard work and excellent technique. It was great meeting him one day when he came to Mexico for a Vive Latino.

Toni François is probably the best photographer in Mexico as well as a great friend, I love her technique and the fact that she’s quite fast! Sometimes the show is still going and she has already uploaded her photos.

There’s also this guy called Juan Perez-Fajardo. I don’t know much about him other than he’s from Spain and that I follow him on Flickr but his photos, both live and portraits are always great. Look for him as Juan The Fly Factory on Flickr and check out his work!

Your top 3 tips for music photographers?

  1. Know your band/venue. Sometimes it’s best to not carry all your equipment, or carry it all! If you go to a small club, pack your shorter and fastest lenses, in my case a 24-70 and a 50 will do. An arena with a band that moves all the time? Two cameras may be the way to go, one with a short lens and the other one with a telephoto. Shooting from the soundboard? a stepladder and a monopod will help you carry that long lens.
  2. Go to gigs without your camera (and buy your ticket!). It’s good to remember once in a while how it was before going to shows to work, enjoying the band without worrying about the lights (and your gear). Also, always buy a ticket if you really really want to see a band, so you don’t miss them in case you don’t get a photo pass.
  3. Don’t be late. There are a lot of photographers and magazines covering the same gig you’re in, so don’t be late in sending your pictures. If they are published late in the day people will search for photos from other websites and will probably miss yours.

My favourite shot is? It’s really hard to pick just one photo, even more so when this year I shot a lot of my favourite bands, but this photo of the stage Muse had for The 2nd Law tour might be my favourite right now. It was shot at last song of the final gig of their 4 show stint in Mexico City (I went to all four of them). I know it’s not my best photo ever, and it wasn’t even shot with any of my DSLRs but with a Sony NEX-7 and from the audience, but it means a lot to me since it represents all the hard work I’ve done to get to this point. Muse is one of my favourite bands ever and maybe the only band I thought I had to shoot since day one, so finally getting that photo pass meant that all those years going to clubs and bars with terrible lighting finally paid off! Getting to take photos of one of your favourite bands is, in my opinion, one of the best experiences ever for a concert photographer, a motivation to keep working to get those big shows everybody wants.

How can we find out more about you and find more of your work?

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