I do not personally know Greg Noire. This is all based off content I have found online about him and by him.
In honor of the upcoming festival season, let me introduce you to one of my favorite photographers, Greg Noire. Greg Noire is a live music/portrait photographer. The work he does leaves me in awe every time I see something new from him. He’s truly a master of his craft. Let's just take a look at a few of the pics he has taken so far.
Greg Noire has become such a household name in the concert photography space that if there's a big festival, he's more than likely shooting it. I mean look at the moments he's able to capture and how well he's able to capture those moments. You'd be dumb not to hire him for your festivals.
He wasn’t always like this though. When researching for the piece, I was watching an episode of “The Not So Cool” Podcast where Greg was the guest and he was discussing the first show he ever shot. Before then, he didn’t really feel that inspired when it came to photography. It wasn’t until he was in the photo pit for the first time that he realized that this was something that he truly wanted to pursue.
The initial show he shot was actually his little brother’s rap group’s show, The Niceguys. They were opening for Clipse and Greg was brought along to photograph simply because his brother asked him to. Once he was in the photo pit he had no clue what he was doing. He was shooting in a dark concert venue with settings set for a midday outdoor event and getting black photo after black photo. He was confused as to why nothing was being captured and then another photographer in the pit that he actually looked up to in that pit, Jay Vince, helped him out and dialed in the settings for him. Then he was actually able to capture an image. After capturing his first few photos, he made sure to take a photo of the settings with his "picture" phone in order to keep a record of it.
To be honest, capturing an image at a concert can be pretty tough. Especially if you don't know what you're doing. You can't just leave your camera in "automatic" and hope for the best. You have to take the photos manual.
Manually taking a photo already is pretty tough. You have to understand the lighting, then you have to dial in your settings between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture in order to get a correct exposure, then you have to understand what exactly is your subject and grab the correct focus.
Then take into consideration a concert environment: flashing lights, spotlights, animated backgrounds, unpredictable subjects, etc. When you are in that kind of environment and want to get specific moments you have to have all of your settings calculated and figured out on the spot and be able to capture those moments correctly. And that’s only to get a correct exposure. Once you have the exposure right, then you have to get the right framing, have the right lens on, and grab focus to make sure your image doesn't end up blurry.
Overall, there’s a lot to consider. Here, I’ll show you a few photos I’ve taken where I messed up. Whether it be the settings, the focus, or the framing.
First photo, it's underexposed and my camera grabbed focus on the wrong person. Second pic is out of focus and I wish I shot this at a different angle. Wish I was standing about 4 feet to the left in order to get more of Khalid's face. Third photo is underexposed and blurry. Fourth photo is the same. The potential these photos had were kind of ruined simply because I didn't have my setting dialed in correct.
Concert photography is not easy. But man, Greg Noire understands every damn assignment. The photos he takes are all print and hang up in the apartment worthy. The photos he takes are let me stop scrolling on ig, stare at my screen for minutes, and try to understand how he even got to this moment worthy. The photos he takes are timeless pieces that your children are going to be looking at when they research this current era of music.
To go from not knowing how to even get an actual picture captured manually on his camera during his first gig to where he is now is astounding. It’s crazy to think that this guy who is now every festival’s in-house photographer, who was personally hired by Travis Scott to shoot his family was absolutely lost in his first ever gig.
Alright enough about his first gig and let’s get into his photography.
So Greg NOIRE is named after the film noir genre. Film noir is a black and white genre that uses lighting to create a sense of drama, pessimism, and loneliness. Greg was and is a huge film noir fan. One of his favorite films is a film noir classic, Citizen Kane.
Being a huge film noir fan, Greg decided to start diving into themes of loneliness and abandonment in his early photography. He didn’t just try and do an average portrait. He wanted to make sure there was some emotion to it. He wanted to make sure you felt something from it.
This added layer of focusing on emotion in his shots has translated into the photography he takes today. He said that his favorite festival shot to take is when the artist first enters the stage and is taking in their audience. The moment when the artist sees the crowd for the first time. In that moment he shoots close and wants to get as much emotion as he can in that shot.
In those shots there’s intent. He’s not taking a million shots, hoping for one to be a banger because he knows what kind of shots he wants to take. There’s a method to the madness.
If he understands that the artist has a lot of energy and does a lot on stage, he’ll shoot wide and wait for a moment. If he sees the artist grab a water bottle, he understands that the artist will probably spray the water into the crowd and get ready for the shot.
So his name is Greg Noire so yes he does do a lot of black and white photography. Take a look at these ridiculous shots. Every single one is ridiculous.
You can feel the peace and serenity in this artist in this pic. The light bounces off her forehead in a way where it feels like she’s graced by God. This on its own would be a great portrait shot, but this was taken during a live performance. Where this was a singular moment that could have been missed. But Greg understands his craft in a way where he puts himself in the best spot possible to get the shot that is needed.
This shot is just crazy. The amount of things that happened at this moment and to be at capture this moment just blows my mind.
So what can we learn from this? Add intention into your shots. I’ll also get to a little editing nugget that he speaks about that will help you out if you’re a photographer.
In his interview with KevOnStage, he goes briefly into how he edits his black and white photos. What he does is that he takes all of his photos in color and edits with the intention of it being a colored photo. He gets it to where he wants it to be in color and then he’ll decide if that picture should get the black and white treatment. Once he makes it black and white he’ll go and adjust the hues.
I’ve decided to give that a shot and went through a few of my old concert photos that I took in 2018 and gave it the b&w treatment. What I like about that process is that you’re able to create a better sense of contrast with the photo and create a stronger sense of mood. If that makes sense.
With this set, I actually went straight to B&W, then went through the curves, then went back to color. I edited with the intent for B&W but got a good color edit through it.
The one thing I want you all to take away is that with whatever piece of art you are doing, make sure to add intention into it. Go into whatever project you have and understand your intent with that project. Understand what you are trying to do and what you want to convey. With Greg that’s emotion. It’s capturing his subjects genuinely and portraying them as genuinely as possible. With that we get a snapshot of his subject and are transported to that singular moment in time.
I have had a hard time in different areas with adding intent into the different things I do. Especially photography. The shots I took was just happen chance. They're cool, but don't have that extra layer of depth. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right when I’m taking photos. And then when I’m not feeling it, you can see it in the results.
Add intent into your projects. Get a closer connection to your projects and the results will come. Also, if you’re a photographer understand how your settings work and how your settings will affect your shot. That helps a lot too.