When one considers the music industry, generally the first thought is of the musicians themselves: a sweat-soaked Mick Jagger convulsing across the stage; Freddie Mercury, fist raised high before the crowd at Live Aid; a hazy image of Joni Mitchell, all blonde hair and sharply intuitive eyes nearly hidden behind an acoustic guitar. The music follows – a whisper of a melancholy melody or a ravenous guitar line demanding to be heard, carried along by the captivating rhythm of the drums. We’ve all experienced powerful memories of music to some extent. In fact, I would venture to say it’s generally universal.
But when was the last time you stopped to consider the photographers who captured the greatest moments in music history?
Well, today, PLAYING ATLANTA is doing just that. I got the chance to sit down with photographer and graphic designer Alexandra Scuffle. An Atlanta native of proud Peruvian heritage, Alexandra is known for photography that pulses with life, vivid, colorful graphic design, and an uncanny ability to capture an experience in a single photo. Read on for more about her inspirations, her artistic lineage, and her ultimate photography gig.
AF: Alexandra, you are officially the first rock photographer I’ve featured on PLAYING ATLANTA (and also one of my all-time personal favorites). Let’s jump right in; how did you get into photography? Was it something you were always passionate about, or was it a hobby for a while?
AS: It all started when I was in elementary school. Whenever I went on a field trip, I would grab a disposable camera. I really got into it because it was fun, and because of the exciting part of how the photos turned out after waiting for a few days. I didn’t see it much as a hobby; it was [something] I felt passionate about. I saw that there was [the] potential of growing it into a career.
AF: Who are your personal photographer icons and inspirations?
AS: Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker, Mario Testino, Ross Halfin, Mick Rock, and so on. Mario Testino was the first photographer that I looked up to. My mom’s best friend is best friends and working partners with Mario. That was always close to me. I used to have stacks of fashion magazines and make myself study his photos. I was in awe of his amazing work.
AF: What’s your favorite style of photography to shoot?
AS: Concerts, fashion, nature, and behind-the-scenes.
AF: Music and photography have a decades-long romance; what drove you to make a career in music journalism and photo-journalism?
AS: The creativity and getting to meet people with similar interests. I love the fact that my camera can take me places and your office can be anywhere you go. I’m still chasing further to become a personal world tour photographer, traveling with big-name bands, and dreaming of having my work on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
AF: You’ve gotten some amazing shots from the biggest shows and festivals Atlanta has to offer. Do you have any personal favorites?
AS: Thank you! I’ve shot Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and P!nk. When I shot Taylor Swift, I was told that the stage will shoot out flames. My shooting spot was at the soundboard. It was about a hundred feet from the stage, a little farther than usual. I kind of knew it was coming, but it really surprised me how incredibly intense the heat was from the flames. I thought my camera was going to melt!
AF: What’s your favorite Atlanta venue to photograph?
AS: The Fox Theatre. It’s full of art and history; that’s what I like about it. Since it’s a seated venue, it’s easy for me to navigate through the crowd during the show. The security and staff are very friendly and helpful, which helps a lot when I work.
AF: If you could photograph one touring band, who would it be? What about a band that no longer tours today?
AS: Hard to pick just one touring band! I would love to photograph Cage the Elephant and Joe Satriani. The no-longer-touring-band that I would like to have a chance to shoot is My Chemical Romance. They were my middle school crush. I had photos of them all over my locker door. I know there are rumors out there that they could possibly come back together. I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping they will tour again!
AF: You work hand-in-hand with musicians to capture the results of hours in the studio. How do you use photography to tell a story that some people may only experience through the images you create?
AS: When I shoot a band at a show, each song tells a story. I like capturing each song with the singer’s emotion and movement. The stage lighting can change the mood of the song, and the audience, how they react. Photography is one of the best ways to document, especially keeping the story alive.
Follow Alexandra on Instagram to keep up with her latest concerts, shoots, and all the trippy graphics you could ever want (plus her new puppy!).