The Eye Behind the Concert: Shining a Light on the Photography of Christian Sarkine


by Caitlyn Tarney

Almost as important as any concert is reflecting on it afterward. When the perfect photographer can capture the energy of a show, fans can take a free memento and a feeling frozen in the photograph. Behind every photo depicting a shining performer or beaming fan is the photographer, noticing every detail. The perfect image can let fans into a moment that would otherwise have been lost as it slipped away with the show’s adrenaline. A quick smile flashed at the audience, or an exciting piece of choreography can be revisited over and over again. While reliving a favorite moment at a concert, it’s easy to ignore the care and thought that goes into making each photo perfect. One photographer who always brings out the best in artists is Christian Sarkine. Photographing some of the most important names in music today, these five images show a photographer’s ability to make each artist shine.

That Funny Feeling: Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers by Christian Sarkine

Fans of Phoebe Bridgers will be familiar with this photo since it was used as the cover for her rendition of “That Funny Feeling.” Bridgers’ spin on the song takes it from a comedic bit to a more emotional account of her experience with anxiety, which is perfectly captured by the image of her with her guitar standing alone, surrounded by darkness. The small figure on an otherwise empty background feels like we’re being let in on an intimate moment. If the lights were brighter or the photo was framed to include the crowd listening in, the feeling of isolation that is so flawlessly felt in the song would be lost. 

Shutter Drag, Nessa Barrett

Nessa Barret, photo by Christian Sarkine

A long shutter speed isn’t just an easy trick for photographers to show motion, but an important one. The expression on Nessa Barrett’s face is in sharp focus, highlighting the passion and emotion put into her performance. The shutter drag makes it clear that her performance is not still, and her motion and energy are as important as her expression. The blurring of most of the photo allows the viewer to imagine how she moves across the stage, but one thing that is clear is the purpose with which she does it. The photographer can express that this was an exceptional performance with just one shot. 

Chelsea Cutler Commands the Stage

Chelsea Cutler by Christian Sarkine

In contrast to Sarkine’s photo of Phoebe Bridgers, which manages to make a scene witnessed by so many feel small and personal, this shot has the opposite effect. Chelsea Cutler’s arms outstretched to the lit-up crowd, paired with the city skyline directly beyond them, makes her look like she’s on top of the world. The perspective from the stage is usually a view limited to the singer, and this shot lets the audience in for a moment. With Cutler in the photo’s foreground, the effect is of an outsider capturing a moment everyone shares.

Machine Gun Kelly Shines

Machine Gun Kelly by Christian Sarkine

In this shot, Machine Gun Kelly dazzles the crowd on a stop during his 2022 tour. What sets this photo apart from others is the work with light and color. The manipulation of every aspect of the background, as well as the subject, makes this photo come to life. The details on Kelly’s shirt and the lights behind him are used to draw your eye. The flames above Kelly are highlighted in a way that doesn’t take attention away from the subject. Instead of making the photo seem too busy, the fire acts as a frame for the singer and gives the viewer an all-around exciting shot. 

Love From Paramore

Hayley Williams of Paramore by Christian Sarkine

This shot shows the special connection between Hayley Williams and her fans. Her personality shines through here, and even if the viewer hasn’t seen Paramore perform before, this one shot immediately gives them an idea of what a Paramore show is like. Although Williams is the only full person in the frame and is the subject, the fans she’s interacting with feel just as vital to the photo. 

These examples show the importance of the right concert photographer. Every detail that goes into making a show perfect for fans is a tool photographers use to achieve the desired effect with the potential to capture the atmosphere of each show. Photos of your favorite artists are everywhere. Behind every album cover or Instagram post is a talented photographer with an eye for what exactly needs to be seen by the world. 

More examples of Sarkine’s work can be found at Christian

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