Dec 17


In the past year I’ve been getting more involved in shooting live music, and one of the people that I’ve been able to meet through it is Anna Webber, a highly accomplished live music and studio photographer for the music industry.  She began studying 35mm B&W photography, printing and processing, at age 18 under British photographer of rock music Jill Furmanovsky in Florence, Italy 2005. Furmanovsky was responsible for images of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon tour, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, The Pretenders, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Blondie, The Clash, and many more.

The following summer, she met and aligned herself with Baron Wolman (wikipedia him), the first lead photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine.  She spent summer of 2006 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as his intern and assistant.  During this stint, she flew with him to gallery openings, helping to document Mr. Wolman’s activities through both photographs and the written word. In his studio, she helped catalog and touch-up Mr. Wolman’s priceless collection of rock shots from the late 60s through the present.

I was able to catch up with Anna this past week and get some insight on her views on the industries of photography and music, and how they intersect.  Have a read:

SFDblog: Who do you shoot for and where are your images primarily used?
Anna: I am a freelance photographer and music writer for LA Weekly, and gettyimages. The LA Weekly material is exclusive to run through LA Weekly, but will also appear on my blog at GettyImages is a clearing house that syndicates images out, which can then be purchased by publications worldwide for use online, in-print, or for television. My photos have also been featured in Angeleno Magazine, Rolling Stone, Forth Magazine NY, THEM magazine, LA’s Campus Circle publication, and others. Primarily, I shoot independently, shooting album cover art and commercial collateral.

What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken this year?

Yeesh…  I will go with King Washington‘s main shot - the four piece band on a broken white bench, processed in HDR, really super saturated and vibrant. They were all in short colorful retro swim shorts, and I brought props like an old vintage green typewriter that exists in my trunk next to my fog machine and bull skull at all times, a box of my grandaddy’s 1940s, 50s and 60s LIFE magazines, they had an old rotary phone, and a Hunter S. Thompson style cigarette holder. There’s a video of the shoot somewhere floating on the internet (found it). I believe it shows more goofing off than anything, but…

I also got a great photo at the Woodstock Anniversary last August of the greats in Rock’n'roll photography: Baron Wolman (the first photographer for Rolling Stone and my long-time mentor), Henry Diltz (Morrison Hotel, CSNY, Beatles, Dylan, everything), and Jim Marshall (responsible for the iconic image of Johnny Cash flipping the bird, among many many others).

Anna with Baron Wolman

So you see a ton of live music.  What’s the best show you’ve been to this year?
Wow - best live show. I’ll pick two. Dan Auerbach with the Fast Five at Antones during Austin City Limits, and gotta say it, Pearl Jam, a forever ago favorite, who headlined ACL.

Do you prefer to shoot bands playing live or in a photo studio?  What are the advantages of each for you?

I like them both. You get to know the band, and be creative together once you’ve got them in the studio. Musicians by nature are great performers on stage, but they are not models. So the studio workflow, even on location if applicable, is to have the camera tethered to a much larger monitor. I usually take a few shots and mess with settings, so what the client sees is an image with the preliminary treatments which will be applied to all of them. That way what they see is very different from how they feel reality (usually pretty awkward), and loosen up. If that doesn’t work, hand them a guitar or give them something to focus. It helps to get them to concentrate on something else, rather than being self conscious or shy with a camera and bright lights in their faces.

I love live music, but shooting live is a whole different ball game - it’s 100% reactive. You’re just trying to get interesting shots that are in focus, well-lit, at an interesting angle.

What was it like shooting Cheech and Chong and what was the shoot for?

Well, it was one of the first shoots - if not the first real photo shoot - after Chong got out of prison and decided to tour again with his wife Shelby and Cheech. They’re flirts, and easily engaged, but once I handed them some rifles, they had ‘em at my head… The shoot was for WireImage and my shots ended up getting used by their publicist for media use.

How does it make your job different when you are shooting for an advertisement or label/management compared to shooting for general use?  Does the commercial directive hinder the creative process?

No way. It’s a new riddle to solve when you have parameters. Creatively nailing a shot is part of the rush… that and the delivery… and working with the client… there are many many reasons why I do what I do. Shooting under pressure is fun for me - I love having a creative team separate of mine be part of the process, especially since most of what I do day to day is pretty solo. I’ve never had any problems with someone on-set, they usually know when to step back. But then again, I’ve only been doing this a few years, on a fairly small scale, so… there’s plenty of time for that I guess.

Lastly, what album should we go download right now.

One new, one old: Dan Auerbach’s Keep it Hid, and my all time favorite Stones album, Beggar’s Banquet. And the Donkeys - Living on the Other Side.

Anna with Dan Auerbach and the band

Visit Anna at and follow her on Twitter.