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2024 iHeart Radio Awards: ‘Favorite Tour Photographer’ Breakdown

Take a closer look at the successful photographs and photographers nominated for the iHeart Radio Favorite Tour Photographer category.

Still from iHeartRadio Ludacris' Opening Monologue At The 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards/YouTube

The past year has been the year of tours from some of the top artists in the world. Of course, we have Taylor Swift’s ‘The Eras Tour,’ Beyonce’s ‘Renaissance Tour,’ and so many more. With all these amazing tours, there were also amazing photographs taken by skilled photographers.

On April 1, iHeart Radio held its 12th annual award show, celebrating numerous artists in various categories. While the award show is traditionally recognized for categories like “Producer of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” and “Artist of the Year.” This article will highlight an unsung category, “Favorite Tour Photographer.” This category was conducted through fans’ social votes from around the world.

2024 nominees

The category’s nominated photographers photographed a variety of artists, including Adele, Beyoncé, Louis Tomlinson, Misterwives, Shinedown, 5 Seconds of Summer, and more. Photographers spent their time on tour capturing candid moments, crowd interactions, behind-the-scenes, concert stages, and portraits. The results of all this work definitely paid off, as they all captured incredible moments with their incomparable skills.

The photographers nominated for this year’s categories were:

Ravie B – Adele

Adele announced her months-long concert extravaganza in 2021, as she launched 32 concerts, “Weekends with Adele,” taking place in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace. These concerts started in January of 2022, but she postponed the shows due to the pandemic and production delays. Nevertheless, the shows were rescheduled and promptly held starting in November of 2022.

Adele’s tour photographer, Ravie B, captures the essence of Adele’s shows eloquently, which captures the kind of atmosphere that Adele’s music creates. In the photos, plenty of ambient lighting comes from the stage lights above and on the stage. Moreover, the reflection from these lights adds a particular sense of connection as her songs reach a personal level for most fans.

With such a dimly lit venue, Ravie B was able to capture the emotions of both Adele and her fans. In addition, with her powerful and raw vocals, Adele can captivate any crowd. Her choice of a minimalistic stage design elevates her and her music throughout the show.

Due to the venue, it is imperative to know how to correctly shoot in a dark setting while still capturing the ambiance of not only the stage but also the crowd. Ravie B’s use of ISO priority allows her to shoot successful photos in dark concert lighting. Overall, the photographs capture the raw talent and emotions of Adele, while highlighting the warm and inviting environment. 

Mason Poole – Beyoncé

Beyonce’s tour is one of the most talked about tours within the last year. Other than her strong stage presence, the overall stage was also an eccentric setup consisting of two separate platforms connected by a broad ramp. With such a large stage, Beyonce also features sculptures and metallic tanks, mannequin horses, robotic arms, pyrotechnics and ultraviolet technology.

Beyonce spared no cost when preparing the stage, setup, and costumes for her tour as she amazes fans all over. As a result, her tour has become one of the most popular and anticipated shows. Of course, no show as extravagant as hers can go without any record of the memories made.

Due to the elaborate staging and costumes, the photographer was in for a big project to capture the essence of her concerts. Nevertheless, Mason Poole executed this task perfectly. In the promotional poster for the tour, Poole captures her strong composition with the wardrobe, horse, and overall stature. Despite the bright and shimmering outfit and accessories, Poole creates a perfect balance between the dark backdrop and Queen B herself.

Even though the image stays on the simpler side, where it only consists of Beyonce and black background, there are still numerous staring points for the viewers’ eyes. Due to Beyonce’s outfit and horse being high reflectors of light, it was imperative to find the best way to limit the amount of light in the photo. Therefore, the photographer had a small aperture to put everything in focus. An aperture helps limit the amount of light that can reach an image, which helps accentuate Beyonce while still highlighting the light from her outfit and props.

Carianne Older – Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth kicked off his North American tour, ‘The Charlie Live Experience,’ which kicked off on May 24th at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Dallas. The concert venues ranged across the U.S. and Canada in cities like Atlanta, Miami, New York and more. Ending the show was his Los Angeles show at The Greek Theatre on July 11, 2023.

The tour followed Puth’s series of ‘One Night Only’ shows which began in 2022. At those shows, he played at small theatres and venues across the US. In the end, he debuted his album ‘Charlie Live’ to his fans. Despite just finishing a series of concerts across North America recently before, Puth continued to gift his fans with more live performances with his live experience tour.

The above photo, which is different from what most would think of the words “tour photograph,” resembles more of a photoshoot rather than a tour. However, the photo expresses great visual emotions through the hand. While it may not seem like it at first, there is a level of comfort and intimacy within this photo. From the warm color palette to the comfy outfit choice, the photo invites fans to look into Puth’s story.

Moreover, there is a shallow depth of field because he is in focus, and the background is not. This also adds to the level of intimacy as it focuses Puth on the center of the photograph. Despite being the artist people go to see, the photo features Puth sitting in the seats of the stadium. This further emphasizes the connection he has between himself and his fans. 

Anna Lee – Coldplay

Coldplay is a band that knows how to create incredible music and even more extraordinary concert experiences. They are currently on a two-year tour, starting in March 2023 and ending in November 2024. Like most of their concerts, the ones on this tour include an extravagant display of pyrotechnics and lots of confetti. Within the last two years, and for a few more months, Coldplay takes their fans through their universe, creating new memories for everyone.

For Coldplay, photographer Anna Lee uses a Canon R5 with the settings: Canon 70-200mm L, f/2.8 • 1/250 • ISO 500 (first image). The camera beautifully captures the individual lights from the fans as well as Chris Martin himself. This illustrates the touching connection between Chris and his fans as they create a hand-heart together.

Moreover, including the crowd at the bottom gives a baseline for the photo. Overall, it showcases how an artist and their fan have become more than just artists and fans. It conveys a deeper understanding of each other through music. In addition, Coldplay has a theme based on the universe and planets within their music right now. This picture also creates a sense of the universe that Coldplay has created with their music. A universe that includes the band, its fans, and their relationship.

Furthermore, the horizontal photo shows the viewer how the photographer experienced the concert. This allows viewers of the photograph to imagine the atmosphere of the concert itself. Additionally, it truly captures Coldplay’s expansive universe.

Cynthia Parkhurst – Jonas Brothers

The Jo Bros have been back for a few years, and all of their fans from the 2000s are reveling in nostalgia. Of course, they are back with new music, but we still love the memories the brothers gave us when we were children. Now, they are creating new memories with their fans as they create new music, as well as from their tour.

Their current tour ‘Five Albums. One Night. The World Tour’ began in August 2023 and plans to go on until November of this year. However, they just recently pushed back the dates of their European concerts to take a four-month break after their Mexico show. Nevertheless, there have been several amazing tour moments that have been accompanied by just as equally amazing tour photographs.

The band’s photographer, Cynthia Parkhurst, knows how to capture the ambiance of their concerts and capture the night in time. The above photo includes a deep depth of field because everything is in focus. So much so the faces of the first few rows of the crowd are very clear, and the farther one looks, the more one will get lost in the crowd.

This image has the Jonas Brothers facing away from the camera, looking into the crowd. Through this, a viewer can see the cohesiveness of the band and its fans and the connection they have. Moreover, they are giving their last bows where they thank their fans; this creates a sense of gratitude.

Catherine Powell – Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini held a highly anticipated ‘Heartfirst’ tour, which started in September of 2022 and ended in July of 2023. Originally, the tour was supposed to end in mid-October, but because of high demand, she added more dates. The new dates extended to a second and third leg of the tour. The second and third legs of the show went on from early March 2023 and ended that July.

For a first image of concert pictures, the photographer includes a full frame style photography to fill the screen. While most tour photographs consist of stage images and crowd images, Catherine Powell includes a backstage-like photograph of Kelsea Ballerini. This could bring a sort of anticipation to see the other images that come from the actual concert. Almost like showing a behind-the-scenes show where fans can get a sense of the artist before a concert.

Since social media, especially Instagram, tends to crop an image to fit the site and its format, it is essential for a photographer to understand how to take a photograph accordingly. Powell includes a crop factor, as most photos taken with a telephoto lens are cropped for Instagram, like these images.

Moreover, the photograph itself has great exposure as it determines the light and darkness. This is able to highlight Kelsea Ballerini, despite her being the center of the images, but it also accounts for the stage lights and effects. The results, therefore, have a clear product with a great balance of lighting.

Joshua Halling – Louis Tomlinson

Louis Tomlinson’s ‘Faith in the Future World Tour’ is the artist’s second soloist tour. The tour began in May 2023 and will end in a couple of months in June. For this tour, the creative direction took a more rugged and asymmetrical approach. This contrasts the usual grand stadium tours he has previously done as a soloist and as a member of One Direction.

Tomlinson announced the UK and European dates in his original announcement of the tour. Later in November, on the eve of his album’s release date, Tomlinson announced the USA and Canada dates. In early 2023, Tomlinson announced the Asia dates and then the Australian dates, which extended his tour into 2024.

With over a year of touring, there are a plethora of photographs capturing the singer and his fans. Throughout most of these photos, one can see his interest in shadows and the depth they create. This gives a relaxed feeling to his photographs while also emphasizing the artist’s creativity on the stage. Between the highlights and shadows within the contrasting hues and shades, the photographer is able to express the energy and spirit of the performance.

The photographer’s attention to detail and harmonious photographs of Louis capture the essence of the concert and Louis’s performance. Despite the harsh stage lights, the photographer is able to bring out the environment of the night. Through this, we get a deeper look into not only Louis’s artistry but also the artistry of the photographer.

Matty Vogel – Misterwives + Bishop Briggs

Pop-indie band Misterwives kicked off their ‘Don’t Look Down’ tour with Bishop Briggs in a co-headlining tour of the two artists in September 2023. The tour started in Toronto in September and ended in Seattle in mid-October. The artists will also other major cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and more.

The photographer for Misterwives took a more creative route with their photographs. Through the use of the fish-eye lens, the photographer emphasizes the artist more while also creating an illusion. In addition, the guiding lines of the stage and the ground help the viewer’s eyes reach the artist.

Moreover, the asymmetrical component of the photo shows great dynamic balance. Despite the number of bright lights on the stage, the photographer is able to capture the singer’s silhouette easily. This is because the small aperture gives the photo a large depth of field, which is why you can see the details of the artist’s shape and her outfit.

With such an emphasis on the artist and the pose the artist is in, viewers get a sense of the energy the artist creates. With this photograph, we can see the passionate and lively atmosphere of the concert despite not seeing the fans in the first image. However, we also see more of the connection between the fans and the artist in the other images.

Throughout most of the images, the lighting comes in to bring out the energy while also obstructing the faces of the artists. This creative direction almost creates a question within the photograph because it subtly alludes to the music without giving away too much. It shows the artist and the overall vibe of the concert, which piques an interest because it creates an intonation of the group.

David Lehr – Morgan Wallen

Morgan Wallen’s ‘One Night at a Time’ tour began in 2023 and extends to 2024 as he plays across 4 Countries, 2 Continents, and in 17 Stadiums. They began in March with shows in New Zealand and Australia with HARDY. From there, he comes back in April to Milwaukee, New Jersey, Chicago, and Boston before wrapping up in October in Washington.

For a yearlong tour, it is important to capture every moment to cherish in the future. Photographer David Lehr does exactly that as he accompanies Wallen throughout his tour. In the photo below, there is great framing and content, and the audience gets an immediate impact because the photographer fills the frame with no wasted space. There is also great depth within the photo, not only from the venue but from the balance between the stage and the fans in the stands. This almost elocutes the connection between the artist and his fans, as well as his impact as a musician.  

The placement of the artist was amazing because it captures the atmospheric feel of a concert. In addition, this also emphasizes his perspective on the experience of an artist. Of course, the emphasis on the lighting within the center of the image, which aligns with Morgan Wallen, helps with centering the artist.

Moreover, the lighting was done well while also making use of great exposure. With a black-and-white image, we also get a sense of the emotions within the artist. This emotion fills the stadium and helps the artist connect with his fans as well. It creates a contrast between two simple beings, a musician and his fans, and the memories they create together.

Sanjay Parikh – Shinedown

Throughout the various photographs of Shinedown’s concert, a variety of emotions are captured and brought out more through Photoshop. First off, one of the photos features the artist’s back as he faces his fans, holding his guitar and sitting down. This alone shows the emotions stirring between the artist and his fans, which is further elevated through the faded image of his face looking at the crowd that is overlayed on the original picture.

Moreover, this compassionate display of emotions applies to the black and white photograph of the artist sitting on a stairwell looking off into the distance. This could have multiple meanings, as the idea of looking elsewhere could convey pondering, longing, or even reminiscing. This leaves viewers with a sense of curiosity as to what it could entail.

In contrast, another image displays the artists’ passion and energy that comes from their music and their fans. The striking explosion-like effect coming from the lights and background effects further conveys the spirit within the artist. This goes further to communicate the type of atmosphere the artist creates at their concerts.

Alfredo Flores – Sabrina Carpenter

From Disney to popstar, Sabrina Carpenter is touching hearts all over with her music and creating memories through her tour. Her tour, ‘Emails I Can’t Send,’ began in September 2022 and continued on until August 2023. The tour consisted of 80 concerts of 3 North American legs, one South American leg, one Europe leg, and one Asia leg. In addition, Sabrina accompanied Taylor Swift on her ‘Eras Tour’ during its Latin America shows as an opening act.

Unlike most of the other photographs, Alfred Flores includes quite a few portraits of Sabrina Carpenter. While this does not technically pertain to her concerts, it does give viewers a better idea of the creative direction she took with her music, outfits, and concept. Moreover, a few of the photos included give fans a look at Sabrina Carpenter backstage, which also allows them to imagine the process the artist takes before a concert.

In some of the photos, Sabrina is often positioned in powerful poses, which express her impact as an artist and how successful she is. In particular, the photograph of Sabrina walking away from the camera is taken at a lower angle. This way, it is as if we are looking up to her as she takes a powerful and confident stride across the stage.

Moreover, the artist tends to use high saturation for some images based on Sabrina’s wardrobe. This conveys the warm vibe Sabrina and her music tend to give off. In addition, this decision further expresses the feelings of her fans at the concert. Through this, the photographer is able to freeze the emotions of both fans and Sabrina.

Ryan Fleming – 5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer’s 2023 World Tour ‘The 5 Seconds of Summer Show’ included dates in South America, the UK, Europe, and North America. They also made an appearance at the ‘When We Were Young’ festival in Las Vegas. The tour started in South America, and in August, they will start the North America leg in Connecticut.

The day that the tickets went on sale, they also released their live studio album, ‘The Feeling of Falling Upwards-Live from The Royal Albert Hall.’ The tracks are taken from the band’s 2022 performance “The Feeling of Falling Upwards” at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This is a special place for the band as it is the venue they busked outside of when they first moved to the UK to write their first album ten years ago.

With ten years of hard work, there is surely a plethora of memories they have created. Now, with their latest tour, they were able to make even more memories that are preserved in time, thanks to their photographer, Ryan Fleming. In the first photograph above, there is a shallow depth of field, and the area of sharpness is very low. Oddly enough, there is no point of stability, which leaves the audience to find it amongst the crowd and the phones.

In the concert photographs, the faces of almost anyone, including the artists, is not visible. It almost leaves viewers wondering what the concert experience is like because the photos do not give too much away. Moreover, there is a strong composition with the foreground and the middle ground. This creates a great balance between the artists and the crowd. In addition, it expresses the energy they both create together, which contributes to the atmosphere of the photograph.

In regard to the nomination and award, the social voting for the category began on January 18th and closed on March 25th. This year, the winner for the category was Joshua Halling for Louis Tomlinson on the ‘Faith in the Future’ 2023 world tour.

The winner

Joshua Halling is a photographer, videographer, and director from Brighton, UK. Joshua has a history of capturing raw and ground-level photographs while traveling with numerous bands and artists. A two-year nominee for the iHeart Radio award show, Joshua has found beautiful moments to capture through the mayhem and chaos of tour life.

Working to capture moments of joy and excitement takes a steady hand and a great focus on detail. The photos nominated for the category reflect his capabilities as a photographer and creative. Possessing skills like photographing with wide-angle lenses, telephoto lenses, tripods, and flash all go hand in hand with having a great team and the right equipment.

@iheartradio

#LouisTomlinson has “the best fan base in the world” 🩷👏 #iHeartAwards2024

♬ original sound – iHeartRadio

Joshua, in an interview with an iHeartRadio personnel at the award show, mentioned his thanks for working with such a creative artist like Louis Tomlinson. If not for his kindness, genuineness, and the support of his fans, he would not have had such successful photos. This goes to show how it is not just the fans and the artist who create a connection but also the photographer, whom most don’t even think about.

Tour photography equipment

In most concert scenarios, the first piece of equipment a photographer needs is a DSLR camera. DSLR is an acronym that means a Digital Single-lens reflex camera that uses a mirror mechanism to capture images. Having a DSLR camera for tour photography allows the photographer to capture clear images. It can also be useful in controlling light settings, focusing images, and taking thousands of photos.

In addition to the DSLR, another essential component is the wide-angle lens. Typically used for landscape photography, a wide-angle lens can be crucial in capturing a variety of scenes at a concert. With an environment like stadiums and arenas, this lens can make a space feel more expansive and showcase much detail.

Moreover, a tour photographer would also want to include a telephoto lens with their equipment. This type of lens will bring far away subjects like objects, people, or animals closer. In tour scenarios, a photographer could take photos of the performer or the band amidst the crowd or even clearer images of the crowd from afar.

2023 iHeart Radio winner

A year ago, the winner of the Favorite Tour Photographer was Lloyd Wakefield, who photographed Harry Styles on his 2022 “Love on Tour.” If you’re amazed that the tour photographers of two former One Direction members won these awards a year apart, you might be interested in exploring other boy bands to satisfy your taste for One Direction.

Lloyd Wakefield is a director & photographer from the United Kingdom who works in editorial, commercial & music videos. His style of work involves portrait photography with vibrant colors and extremely intimate close-ups. The photos he captured on tour with Harry Styles included various angles such as wide, landscape, flash, low light photography, and environmental portraiture.

The vast majority of the work he was nominated for were photos filled with Harry’s vibrant wardrobe and energetic presence. His candid photos, both on stage and in the crowd, were said by Vogue to replicate famous photos of artists. Artists such as The Rolling Stone, Jimmy Hendrix, and Janis Joplin.

An in-depth look at their photographs

Joshua has been working in concert photography since his time spent at university. It was there that he fell in love with shadows and lights at live shows. He went on to master this craft with cameras like a 35mm and a Canon 6Ds. With this, he has been able to capture crowd close-ups and travel to festivals, working with a variety of artists. 

In his most recent work with Louis Tomlinson, you can see his interest in shadows remains. His detailed and harmonious shots of Louis on stage captured both his great stage presence and the atmosphere. Since he was working with harsh and dramatic stage lights, his photos prove he has a great understanding of the quality and direction of light. This artistry comes out in many of his photographs, including the one below.

Similarly, Llyod Wakefield’s photography style involves intimate and close-range shots. His work with Harry Styles shows how he utilizes many wide angles and atmospheric shots. All of his photos shown on Instagram of Harry include much movement and action. This implies a great amount of attention to his shutter speed while still maintaining great lighting. 

Both photographers demonstrate a great understanding of photography fundamentals like composition, lighting, exposure, and framing. As a result, they are able to capture high-quality images of high-energy events.

In addition to understanding photography fundamentals, both photographers and their award-winning photographs demonstrate proficiency in editing. Being a tour photographer essentially requires time management and the proper software, such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, for post-processing and enhancing images. Of course, not all photos come out the way we see them from the final product. Editing has become imperative for creating photographs that capture everlasting memories.

Creating photos of tour lifestyle while roaming the world’s stages, these photographers embrace the chaos and find beauty in the unexpected. Their work contains perpetual motion while they chase melodies and emotions across states and cities. 

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