By Dave Fountinelle | email@example.com
I’m sitting at a table in Kuppa Joy’s Clovis location, enjoying the best iced coffee I’ve ever had when Steven Sanchez comes in. He walks up, greets me, and takes a seat across from me. After brief introductions, I’m ready to jump right in and ask him all about his book, “Rock & Roll for Everybody: A Photographic Tour of Today’s Bands.” It’s a collection of photos he gathered over several years of doing concert photography. It’s a passion he developed rather coincidentally while working in radio promotions, as a writer, and a budding filmmaker. As his skills developed, he amassed an impressive portfolio of photographs cataloging several years of national acts gracing various stages in the Fresno area. Artists ranging from Deftones and Ghost, to Magic Giant and Collective Soul. Eventually, Sanchez reached out to publisher, Amherst Media, sending them a sample of his work. Impressed with what they saw, Amherst approached Sanchez with a book deal. And the rest, as the cliché goes… ah, you know how it goes.
A UNLV Film School graduate, Sanchez got into concert photography pretty much by accident. While working in promotion for a local rock station, he was tasked with taking concert photos of various bands for the station’s web page and social media. He quickly discovered he had a knack for it and continued taking photos even after he left that job and began working for Kings River Life.
“My first love is filmmaking,” he tells me. “But I’m passionate about art in all forms. I didn’t get into photography intending to make a career out of it, I did it because it’s fun and I enjoy it. Having an opportunity like this to share my art with people, it’s amazing, and I’m so thankful for it.”
And the art in this book is definitely worth sharing. Sanchez’s photo styles are as diverse and impressive as the artists he captures. A crisp, simple, neck-down black & white shot of The Guess Who bassist, Rudy Sarzo, in his element. A muted stage-right shot of Collective Soul singer, Ed Roland, holding his mic stand and raising a peace sign above his head. And a brooding, back-lit, black & white snap of Ghost guitarist, Nameless Ghoul, bending out a solo. There’s tangible emotion in every one of these pictures. You feel the energy jumping out of his group shot of Kiss, jamming side by side in full make-up. The tequila-smooth vibe that drips from his red-lit color shot of Sammy Hagar and his guitar. Steven’s approach to his photography is to capture the raw energy and atmosphere of each moment and deliver it as purely as possible. To do that, he uses almost no post-processing or filtering at all.
“I want the content of each picture to do the talking. I want the people who see these pictures to feel the same energy I felt while I was taking them. To me, filters just get in the way of that energy,” Sanchez explains.
So, with all the big-name bands and artists Sanchez has met and photographed over the two-plus years he was putting this book together, were there any big egos or jerks he’d like to put on blast?
“Honestly, everyone I’ve met has been really cool. No bad experiences at all,” he replies.
OK, then who are some of the nicest performers you’ve met that you’d like to give a shout-out for being awesome people?
“Magic Giant were really nice guys, very cool, they would be at the top of the list. Collective Soul was another favorite. You almost forget just how big they were in the ’90s, they had some serious hits, but they were super humble and friendly,” says Sanchez.
So, what else can we look forward to from Sanchez, more books or other projects in the works?
“I am definitely going to put out more books of photography. I have a few other ideas that I’m working on now. Amherst Media has been super supportive, so I look forward to getting more of my art out there very soon. I’m also continuing to pursue writing and filmmaking, staying active with the local film community, and working on various projects. Just trying to create and share as much of my art as I can.”
Steven Sanchez is a guy who is passionate about art in all its forms. He’s a film nerd, a comic book geek, a music lover, and a photography enthusiast. He talks with infectious energy about all of these subjects. It’s an enthusiasm that comes from a genuine appreciation for the creative process. It’s an appreciation that comes across in every moment he captures in the pages of his book. It’s a book no fan of music, live performance, or photography should be without.
“Rock & Roll for Everybody: A Photographic Tour of Today’s Bands” is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also follow Sanchez’s photography page on Instagram @Stevensanchez5807.