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Rock On



With his trio of Tamron lenses, Andrew Dobin creates images that make viewers feel like they’re at the concert with him.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Andrew Dobin



Andrew Dobin’s entry into photography was a somewhat unusual one. After studying earth sciences at the University of Minnesota, Andrew went on to work in software support. “I enjoy the challenge and helping people,” he notes on his website. But five years ago, while listening to a motivational speech one day during a run, Andrew was suddenly inspired to take the photography he’d dabbled in to the next level.

Today, Andrew shoots everything from engagement sessions and weddings to senior portraits, family photos, and sports. But concert photography has become his passion, and you’ll often find him at the Armory in downtown Minneapolis, where he’s taken photos of such artists as Katy Perry, Lizzo, singer-songwriter Anderson East, and Dutch DJ Martin Garrix. “Truth be told, even though I love music, I’d only been to two or three concerts in my life before I started photographing them,” Andrew says. “I didn’t know what to expect, which in retrospect was a gift—I didn’t fully realize how much work would be involved, so it didn’t scare me away.”

© Andrew Dobin
70-200mm (154mm), F/4.5, 1/250th sec., ISO 1600
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© Andrew Dobin
70-200mm (200mm), F/5.6, 1/400th sec., ISO 100
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Andrew uses a trio of Tamron lenses for his concert photos: the SP 45mm F/1.8 VC prime, SP 70-200mm F/2.8 VC G2, and SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC G2 wide-angle. “The 45mm is the workhorse I use when I’m at stage level or right up in the pit,” he says. “I know what my framing is going to be with that lens. When I want a closer, more intimate shot of a performer’s face or the drummer seated at the back of the stage, I’ll pull out the 70-200mm, as it has the reach I need. The 15-30mm lens, meanwhile, helps make some of my images look more epic by allowing me to capture the crowds, or the entire expanse of the stage all lit up. The fast apertures on all three lenses also help me shoot in the low-light situations I often find myself in.”

© Andrew Dobin
45mm, F/3.5, 1/400th sec., ISO 800
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© Andrew Dobin
15-30mm (15mm), F/4, 1/200th sec., ISO 3200
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Before he heads to a show, Andrew will watch clips on YouTube and other social media platforms of recent performances by that particular artist. “That helps me get a sense of what they might do during the show I’m photographing,” he says. “And I won’t just watch the lead singer—I’ll check out what the members of the band are doing, too, because maybe there’s a point in a song where one of them does something unique, like a jump in the air, that would be terrific to capture.”

If he has some leeway on where he can stand, Andrew prefers to be off slightly to one side of the stage, rather than smack in the center in front of it. “There are only so many straight-on images of someone singing into a microphone that you can capture,” he says. “By positioning myself on one side, it allows me to see more of who and what is on the stage, as well as to capture movement. In terms of distance from the stage, I tend to favor about halfway between the soundboard and the stage, or maybe a bit further back. From that sweet spot, the 15-30 lens allows me to capture most of the stage, if not all of it, but still get all the detail that I want.”

© Andrew Dobin
15-30mm (30mm), F/3.2, 1/800th sec., ISO 3200
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Anticipating what artists will do and where they’ll go on the stage, and capturing the emotion on their faces as they perform, requires Andrew to constantly be on his toes. “I always try to get what I call the ‘home run’ photos,” he says. “It helps if you know the artist a little bit and what their particular tendencies onstage are. Take Lizzo, for instance. I’ve seen her in concert several times and I know her routine. There’s often a moment in the show when she stops what she’s doing and just looks around and takes everything in, processing what’s going on around her—like a ‘wow, this is really happening’ moment. The more concerts you go to, the more you’ll get to know individual performers and ensure more of those shots.”

© Andrew Dobin
70-200mm (107mm), F/3.5, 1/320th sec., ISO 2500
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One type of photo Andrew always makes sure to capture: the crowd shot. “When I first started taking pictures at concerts, I wasn’t in that mindset—for two years, I didn’t turn around to look behind me,” he says. “But after a few concerts, I realized how excited the fans are. And in general, they don’t mind when you take their photo. When they find out I’m a professional photographer, they’ll often ask me for my business card or Instagram account.”

© Andrew Dobin
15-30mm (15mm), F/3.5, 1/200th sec., ISO 12800
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After the music has ended and he’s back in the studio, Andrew tries to make sure his editing process brings out the feeling of the event he’s just photographed. “I want my images to be a form of believable surrealism,” he says. “I’ll definitely make tweaks with color and brightness, but only to a point. I want to enhance the photos so that someone who was there can look at them and say, ‘That’s exactly what the show looked like.’ I don’t want someone saying, ‘I was there, and that doesn’t look quite right.’ You want to work within the reality.”

© Andrew Dobin
15-30mm (15mm), F/4.5, 1/80th sec., ISO 3200
Click image to view larger

In the end, Andrew sees himself as a documentarian of the talent on the stage. “Taking these photos has given me more of an appreciation for what they do up there,” he says. “I'm just at the concert to capture the magic. They’re doing the hard work, and I’m bearing witness, especially for fans who weren’t able to be there.”

To see more of Andrew Dobin’s work, go to www.northstarimagery.com or check out his Instagram.






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