Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 6.11.36 PM

Best Music Photography of 2012

Taylor Swift performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 22, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

With 2012 coming to a close, I thought I’d post some of my favorite images from this past year. It’s been a great year of shooting and I’ve had an absolute blast. I’ve had some great opportunities to shoot, travel and meet up with fellow music photographers.

I’ve included the technical shooting details as well as my own thoughts of why these images are unique or special to me. Hope you enjoy.

Green Day @ iHeartRadio Music Festival 2012

Green Day performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

The iHeartRadio Music Festival was easily one of my top shoots of the year – and with bill basically consisting of some of the biggest acts around, how could it not be? I had a blast shooting Green Day’s set – for me, this shot sums up the band’s energy and irreverent attitude on stage.

Atmosphere – Mayhem Fest 2012

performing at Mayhem Fest 2012 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis, Missouri on July 20, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Mayhem Fest is always a rowdy show, with tons energy being thrown down on stage and off. Naturally, shooting the atmosphere of a festival is always part of the job, and it’s always a thrill to nail a shot that captures the crowd. This crowd surfer had just come down over the barricade and was full on going mental for the camera.

Taylor Swift @ iHeartRadio Music Festival 2012

Taylor Swift performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 22, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Here’s another one from the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. I flew out to be part of the official photo team for this festival, so it was really a pleasure having great access to some of the biggest names in music today. There was a thrust out from the stage that the performers made liberal use of during their sets. This image of Taylor Swift was made while she was on the extension. I liked the slightly different angle that the thrust allowed for this shot of Taylor really belting it out.

Atmosphere — Rusko @ The Pageant

Fans at Rusko's  performance at the Pageant in St. Louis, Missouri on February 27, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)


Catching atmosphere shots during electronic music events is a really challenging thing, but it’s also being a little pet project of mine. In this shot made during Rusko’s set at the Pageant, the pit was absolutely heaving. The front row was all hopelessly smashed against the railing and just a mess of hair whips and wild arms. This image was just a bit of luck in catching this female fan as she came up from a hair whip – I thought her expression captured the kind of ecstatic energy of the show.

Asking Alexandria @ The Pageant

British heavy metal band Asking Alexandria performing on their 2012 world tour at the Pageant in St. Louis on November 11, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

This was a fun show for a variety of reasons. First, it was nice to meet up with my friend and colleague Adam Elmakias. Second, Asking Alexandria just put on a debaucherous, fun set. Adam and I tag teamed this show with wireless flash, which you can see in this shot making very nice friends with the huge amounts of haze being pumped over the stage. Just a classic rock star pose here that I was happy to capture.

Childish Gambino @ The Pageant

Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, performing to a sold out crowd at the Pageant in St. Louis on June 7, 2012. (TODD OWYOUNG)

Childish Gambino put on a killer show at the Pageant, which was thrilling for the rapper’s energy as much as it was to see a great production for the tour. For this shot, Gambino was right up at the edge of the stage and leaning over – I thought the angle created by the Pageant’s high stage and the dramatic uplighting created a really interesting feel in this image.

Aerosmith @ iHeartRadio Music Festival 2012

Aerosmith performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 22, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Another one from iHeartRadio. Can you tell I enjoyed this shoot? This image of of the inimitable Steven Tyler. He was doing one of his signature drop-to-your-knees-and-wail moves, which only last for a second. I’m pretty sure I was probably accidentally jabbing fellow shooter/friend Andrew Swartz—who was just to my right—in the head trying to make this shot – sorry, Andrew.

Flaming Lips @ LouFest 2012

The Flaming Lips performing at LouFest in St. Louis on August 26, 2012 (TODD OWYOUNG)

Yes, a shot of Wayne Coyne in his human hamster ball. Pretty pedestrian festival fare, I know. But I just loved Wayne’s expression of  childish glee that was beaming from his face. This shot was made right after he came back from a romp rolling over the crowd. I was right next to the ramp and this image was made just as the stage hands were about wrangle Wayne back and unzip the ball. If I can tell you a dirty secret, this shot is kind of not even in sharp focus, but I love it anyway.

KISS @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Photos of KISS performing on The Tour at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis on August 27, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

KISS. No brainer – this band is always fun, and ever since I shot them in 2009 I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to do so again. I came prepared for their 2012 world tour with my Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 and a Nikon D800. Normally, a D800 would be complete overkill for a concert, but frankly I just got greedy – I wanted all the ridiculous resolution of the 36 megapixel sensor for this show. Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley – these guys never disappoint. As a cool bonus note, I got a call from Tommy Thayer later on saying he liked the images. I know this is probably uncool of me to say, but getting a call from the lead guitarist of KISS is pretty damn awesome to me.

Lamb of God @ The Pageant

Lamb of God performing at the Pageant in St. Louis on November 7, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Lamb of God are a very intense band on stage with singer Randy Blythe leading the charge. Big stage monitors are always a challenge at a venue like the Pageant because the stage is already quite high, but they just worked for Lamb of God. Probably because Randy Blythe must be a yoga master and uses the monitors as props for his stage antics. A photographer couldn’t have given better direction.

Lil Wayne @ iHeartRadio Music Festival 2012

Rapper Lil Wayne performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Jump shot. Dreads swinging. Lil Wayne not from the soundboard. After getting to shoot Lil Wayne from the pit for his entire performance back in 2008, I thought that there was no chance of me ever getting a change to photograph him again under such condition. I wasn’t counting on iHeartRadio Music Festival.

M83 @ The Pageant


M83 probably aren’t the first band when you think of that goes balls, but that’s exactly what this band does live. This image is of Anthony Gonzalez when he came to the very edge of the stage for a brief moment during M83′s show at the Pageant. It was a tricky shot because there was relatively no light on him and he was doing that sort of bass player lean/wobble. You know the one. It’s the kind of shot/moment where you don’t know you have it until you see it.

Brad Paisley @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Brad Paisley performing on opening night of his 2012 summer tour at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis on May 18, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

What can I say, I’m a sucker for wide-angle shots with fans reaching toward a performer. Even this shot of country star Brad Paisley doesn’t look all that wide, it was still 24mm on the full-frame Nikon D3. I liked the somewhat unique side angle that the thrust from the stage allowed and the fact that the spotlights were bright enough to shine through (albeit diffusely) Paisley’s cowboy hat in this image.

Rusko @ The Pageant

Rusko performing at the Pageant in St. Louis, Missouri on February 27, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

DJ shots are always a bit tricky. Without stage access, they’re always difficult due to the stage, the inevitable table and the fact that said table is probably covered with crap. I liked this shot of UK dubstep producer Rusko because of his expression and gesture, accented by some fortuitous backlighting. Strangely enough, this is also only one of two images in this set that was made with a telephoto lens – take that for what you will.

Slayer @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Slayer performing at Mayhem Fest 2012 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis, Missouri on July 20, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Kerry King of Slayer. This image isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind (it doesn’t blow mine), but I still love it. Some combination of the terribly harsh lighting and technical difficulty balanced with the plain fact that it’s Kerry !#$%ing King with a guitar in his hands. What else do you need? That’s just metal, pure and simple.

Jane’s Addiction @ The Pageant

Jane's Addiction on the opener of their 2012 tour at the Pageant in St. Louis, Missouri on February 22, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

This image of Perry Ferrell was made on Jane Addiction’s tour opener for 2012. The photo pit was absolutely packed for this show and incredibly difficult to move in as I recall. For me, this one is all about the gesture and look on Perry’s face. You can only imagine face of the ecstatic fan he’s pointing at in this moment.

Usher @ iHeartRadio Music Festival 2012

R&G singer Usher performing at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

Again, I’m a bit of a sucker for wide shots showing fans reaching toward the stage. But more than that, this image captures the spectacle of the iHeartRadio Music Festival. The biggest artists and an absolutely killer stage production to match it, complete with a sold-out arena of music-crazed fans. Also, as a fun fact, that camera in the upper left of the image belongs to none other than Kevin Mazur, who is the founder of Wire Image.

Skrillex @ The Rave

Skrillex performing at The Rave in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 1, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

This last shot was made on January 1, 2012 around 2 AM at the Rave in Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin during a special New Year’s Eve set by Skrillex. The show was happening in the massive Eagle ballroom at the Rave, which is an absolutely cavernous space that was filled to the brim with party goers. For this shot, I went to the balcony opposite the stage and shot straight on. I wanted a tighter but still atmospheric shot of the crowd and waited until the stage lighting flared up to make this image.

End Notes

There you have it. Some of my favorite images from 2012. I say some, because invariably I’m sure I’ve forgotten some in the bowels of my PhotoShelter account. Hope you’ve enjoyed these images and have a great start to 2013. See ya’ll in the new year.

Help Support

If this article or any other content on was helpful to you, please consider supporting this site and grabbing your next photo gear purchase through one of my affiliate links:

Simply clicking through any product links on this site helps me bring you free content like the photography tips and gear reviews regularly posted on, and naturally it doesn't cost you a cent more. 

Tea Me

If you want to donate directly to help support and host (and if there's any leftover, keep me stocked in tea), you can contribute money to via PayPal.

There are 8 comments

Add yours
  1. Jim

    Great work, as always. Noted many of your shots use the 24-70mm, but a variety of cameras. Picked up a used 24-70 as my Christmas present and can’t wait to try it.

    Also loved your El Monstero shots.

Join in the Discussion