This month: Check out Jason Tang’s ‘Giving Back’ at the Triple Door

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2013.03.29: Phoenix @ The Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA

Phoenix at the Paramount Theatre. Photo by Jason Tang


One of the things I enjoy most about this little passion project I’ve got going called Guerrilla Candy is being able to showcase the awesome work of several talented local photographers. Each of the shooters I work with has his or her own very distinct style and perhaps the most distinct style belongs to Jason Tang.

I’ve been lucky enough to feature hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Jason’s photos during the past four years we have worked together and on July 3 some of his best shots will be featured at his first ever photo exhibition. The exhibit is free and will be open at the Triple Door’s Musiquarium all month long.

To celebrate the opening of his photo exhibition Jason has booked two great Guerrilla Candy approved bands in Hot Bodies in Motion and Eternal Fair. Both will be performing for free at the Musicquarium July 3. And it’s definitely appropriate for those bands to play the opening of Jason’s show because he’s the person who turned me on to their music and without his ear I likely would not have discovered these standout locals. That’s right folks, Jason is a double threat. Not only does he have an excellent eye but his ears are great too.

Jason also teamed up with several sponsors for the event and the sponsor are providing some great items that will be up for raffle at the opening. Raffle prizes include:

Seattle Theatre Group – One pair of VIP Paramount Club seats to Jim Gaffigan at The Paramount Theatre on Saturday, July 20 at 9:30 p.m.
Seattle Living Room Shows / Seattle Secret Shows – One pair of tickets to an upcoming show
Glazer’s Camera – Three $25 gift cards to their rental store
Quinn’s Pub – Two $75 gift certificates
Pineapple Hospitality – One night stay at any of their Seattle area hotels (Hotel FIVE, The Maxwell Hotel, University Inn, Watertown Hotel)
Coal Headwear – Various pieces from their hat and knit collection
Team Up for Nonprofits – One pair of tickets to an upcoming show

As if the amazing photography and two killer bands aren’t reason enough to drop by the Triple Door, all proceeds from the sale of the prints (yes, that means you will be able to buy the beautiful photos that will be on display) as well as the raffles will benefit some excellent non-profit organizations including Melodic Caring ProjectTeam Up For NonprofitsSeattle Theatre GroupWishlist FoundationLooking Out Foundation and PAWS.

I caught up with Jason recently and talked with him about music, photography and his show at the Triple Door, which is appropriately titled “Giving Back.” Here’s what he had to say.

What inspired you to become a music photographer?

Growing up in the grunge/alternative rock era, I was heavily influenced and inspired by the iconic works of Lance Mercer and Charles Peterson.  The way they were able to convey such emotion and intensity in their images was something I wanted to be able to do.

Eddie Vedder at Benaroya Hall. Photo by Jason Tang

Eddie Vedder at Benaroya Hall. Photo by Jason Tang

Tell me a little bit about the first concert you shot. What was that experience like and what do you remember most?

It was June 22, 2001 at House of Blues in Chicago – the lineup was John Mayer, Howie Day, and Matt Nathanson.  To date, it is still one of my favorite shows.  John had just released his debut studio album Room For Squares a couple weeks prior on a Chicago-based independent label called Aware Records and the place was beyond sold out.  This was the first show where I officially had a photo pass.  I remember being so intimidated when I picked up the pass from will call and had to sign a photo release.  The entire show was incredible; the musicianship, the energy of the crowd, the magnificent venue.  I was hooked with concert photography from there on out.  This was the show that started it all for me.

Aside from the music and getting so close to the action onstage, what’s your favorite part about being a rock photographer and why is it your favorite part of the job?

Definitely hanging out with my friends in the pit.  I’m constantly inspired by all the talented photographers we have in this community and it’s fun to catch up with them.

I get lots of compliments whenever I post your photos and the most common word people use to describe your pictures is “perfect,” so what’s the secret to getting the perfect shot?

I don’t think there is a secret.  It just comes with experience, doing a little research on the bands, and learning from your mistakes.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right spot at the right time.

Do you have any favorite moments from shooting a show or specific shots that stand out to you?

Brandi Carlile @ Easy Street Records (11.20.2009) – The panorama photo that will be displayed really shows how massive the crowd was.  I think they packed close to a thousand people in the store.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis @ The Paramount Theatre / City Arts Fest (10.20.2010)
– This was a historic night for the local hip-hop scene and a launching pad for M&RL’s path to super stardom.

Matt & Kim @ The Neptune Theatre (10.30.2012)
– One of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken.  The band, the crowd, the energy – everything aligned in the perfect moment.

Allen Stone @ The Paramount Theatre (12.7.2012) – It’s crazy to fathom that just a couple years before this show, he was playing in a living room to about 20 people.

What’s the most difficult shoot you’ve been involved with?

Eddie Vedder at Benaroya Hall in 2011.  It was my first time shooting there so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  We had to be escorted to the sides and back of the venue and shoot in shifts for the first three songs.  The minimalist stage setup and lighting, along with the shooting restrictions and trying not to disturb the audience around us, made it the most difficult shoot I’ve done.

I imagine it can be easier to get close to an artists with a camera than it is with a notepad. Is that the case, or do you sometimes get asked to put your camera away because you are “the enemy?”

I definitely think it’s easier to get closer to artists as a photographer than as a writer.  Through projects and shoots, you develop trust and mutual respect for each other’s craft and sometimes even lifelong friendships.

Lastly, you have two excellent bands performing at the opening of your show and you’ve turned me on to quite a few great local bands during the four years we have worked together. Tell me a little bit about your musical tastes and where your ear for good music came from.

My musical tastes are pretty eclectic.  You can find all genres of music on my phone.  My ear for good music definitely comes from my dad, who played guitar in a band when he was in college.  I grew up listening to his record collection which included classic albums from The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, and Elton John.

2012.10.19: Reignwolf @ Laser Dome, Seattle, WA




Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.