He’s on stage, reeling you in with his eyes, his voice and, perhaps, the occasional stunt or two.
He could be Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler or any one of the countless band frontmen that have ever performed. Dalton native Tom Bonomo seeks to capture every one of them through the lens of his camera.
Known locally for bridal and portrait photography, Bonomo admits that he uses his concert experiences as a way to relax while still perfecting his craft. He will exhibit his black-and-white series of band frontmen this Friday, Feb. 14, from 6-9 p.m., at Everything Natural, 426 S. State St., as a part of the Downtown Go Around and the 10th annual Clarks Summit Festival of Ice.
“I want people to see these images and feel something, almost like the energy of the show,” he said. “I want them to feel like they were there. I don’t see them as pictures because I was there to experience them and I want to convey that experience to someone else. It is all about looking at images, feeling something and having some kind of connection, that’s the goal of my work in general. It’s not necessarily taking a pretty picture.”
Bonomo has been shooting concerts for the past 12 years and claims he has lost track of the amount of shows he has been to; citing venues in Northeast Pennsylvania, New York, Allentown and Philadelphia among his regular haunts.
“There are a lot of people who get photo passes to shoot concerts because they like them,” he said. “People don’t realize that you’re only in there for the first three songs. The stipulations are that you can shoot the first three songs of each act. It can sometimes even be only one or two songs. I’ve had goofy constraints where I could only shoot the first 30 seconds of three songs. I would shoot, then be told to sit down, then get up again for the next song. For most concerts, I only shot about a minute and a half for the duration of the show. Then, once the shoot time is over, you are escorted out. There aren’t a lot of perks. If I know the band or management, I might be allowed to stay but, typically, there are a lot of tight constraints. Sometimes you shoot from the sound board, and are hundreds of feet away. You are only in one spot shooting versus being able to go back and forth. There’s a difference in the photos because they aren’t as energetic.”
There is a difference between when Bonomo goes to a concert for the fun of it versus when he is there as a professional photographer for electric city/diamond city , part of Times-Shamrock Communications.
“I find that the concerts I go to just for the music, I enjoy them more,” he said. “If I know the bands or the venue, I can go wherever I want. If something cool is going on, I can grab my camera and take a shot. It is fun, there’s something about shooting a concert that is almost like therapy. Aside from the other things I do, I love photographing music. It is relaxing. I love being able to see the show and to document what happened, other than the actual experience you get to take away. Having those images says, ‘Hey, I’ve been to the show,’ and they bring back memories. It is rewarding and a lot of fun.”
Bonomo believes that the differences in concert photography help him improve his craft as a photographer and that the experiences he has in a concert venue can translate to when he shoots for his business, EyeDesignStudios.
“Arena shows are great; typically the lighting is fantastic and there’s a lot you can do with them,” he said. “You don’t have a lot of issues making a good photo from a big arena show because they are usually a giant production — there’s lighting, lasers and all kinds of stuff. They are almost always bigger names. The smaller shows are more challenging because you can go in and it is lit by a light bulb or something really thin or all red lights or all one color. It makes you a better photographer. Working in situations with difficult lighting make you appreciate when you go to a big venue where it is easy.”