New York Times Tag Along

I am lucky.

Lucky to know what I am passionate about…

Lucky enough to be in a position where I am able to whole heartedly pursue that passion…

And most relevant to this story…

lucky enough to somehow find myself shooting with a New York Times freelance Photographer.

Shania Twain (Rock This Country Tour) Shot by: Case Tanaka (AKA: ME)

As I had mentioned in my previous piece Traveling With Your Camera I had been in New York during the beginning of this summer. The city was full of people running around frantically in hopes of getting to just the right place at just the right time so that this city of dreams could somehow work its magic on them.

Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) Shot by: Case Tanaka (AKA: ME)

… I on the other hand was haphazardly running around the city with my camera with no schedule or destination.

I was staying in Hell’s Kitchen with my Aunt during my time in New York. About half way through my visit she told me about a Freelance photographer she knew who shot for the New York Times. During some down time one evening she said that I might be able to see his studio before I left. I was ecstatic thinking about meeting a man who worked for such a prestigious paper as the New York Times.

Fast forward a couple of days:

I get a text during mid morning from a number that wasn’t registered in my phone…

“Got called in to shoot the Shania Twain concert at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum any interest in tagging along?”

Looking down at my camera to see the battery at a little over 10%

“Yeah what time should I meet you and where?”

“My studio in Brooklyn, about 45mins”

*Frantically running to a Starbucks to charge my camera for a couple of minutes*


Huge LED Display at concert

As I arrived at the front of the studio I met Jake the photographer.

Jake was a pretty laid back guy who loved his cameras and his work. In the beginning he told me that I was going to be able to see the New York Times photographer lifestyle for what it really was.

As we went to go pick up a zip car from a nearby lot I nerded out about photography and tried to keep my cool about the fact that I’d be receiving a media pass in less than an hour to shoot a concert in NYC.

Inside the venue we were shuffled along to a room with 4 or 5 pro photographers sitting around. Seeing them equipped with their thousands of dollar lenses and top of the line cameras sufficiently intimidated me right off the bat. I listened to them talking, hearing things like “thats the shot to beat” and “yeah I shot the last ten shows”.

Shania Twain (Rock This Country Tour) Shot by: Case Tanaka (AKA: ME)


A well known concert photography fact is that you are usually only allowed to shoot the first 3 songs of the opener and the first 3 songs of the main performer. When we were escorted out to the photo pits and everyone was setting up their gear, but I was taking in what to me felt like a dream. Gavin Degraw (The Opener) came out and the snapping began. The sound of camera shutters woke me up from a trance and I started snapping away as well.

Throughout the night I learned a lot of things about concert photography and a lot of things about what it really means to be a professional photographer. One of the most important being that even the pros who are taking photos for the big time papers and magazines aren’t gods. They are just people who love what they do and decided that their passion is worth all of the difficult times and failure that they no doubt faced and continue to face while trying to make it in such a sought after career.

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