Before it was an advertising tool, before it was selfies, a photograph was a moment in time, captured forever, a still display of the universe in a state of existence it would never be in again. Family photos, historical records, a photograph has the ability to take a moment in time, and make it iconic, inspiring, and unforgettable. This is especially true in concert photography. We love seeing photos of legends in their prime when the world was at their fingertips, they remind us that anything is possible. But these photos aren’t taken by random fans with a smartphone, they’re taken by professionals, photographers who are legends themselves. Stephanie Heath, of Smiling Eyes Media, is a legend in the making.
What got you into photography, and what led you to take up concert photography as a specialty?
I actually wasn’t into photography until I started going to concerts. I went to a lot of shows and couldn’t get very good photos with my phone back then. I thought it was fun and decided I would just do it as a hobby, I didn’t know it could be more back then. So, I went and got a basic camera and starter kit and went out to multiple shows a week. Eventually, I got pretty good and started meeting the bands.
What was your first concert?
My Chemical Romance and Muse
Festivals or singular shows?
It depends on the lineup. Festivals give me an excuse to travel and there’s more time to connect with people but local shows are great. Both are opportunities to discover new music, which I love.
Favorite concert experience?
That’s difficult cause I’ve seen so many amazing artists, but when I first moved up here I saw Third Eye Blind and it was amazing. There were lots of technical difficulties, the sound was off, and they kept going. When the sound just kept failing they did a very intimate acoustic show and told us the backstory behind some of the songs. It was incredible.
Number one band you wish you could’ve seen live?
Janis Joplin, I have her lyrics tattooed on my arm. Second would be Spice Girls, I love Scary Spice.
Top songs on your playlist right now?
Angel Haze- Battlecry
Without Me- Halsey
Explain the meaning behind Smiling Eyes?
I was just thinking of the word smize and the fact that it means smiling eyes, and I was already looking to change my business name. Luckily when I looked it up no one had it. It was the first step to becoming a real business.
When did you realize you wanted to make a career out of this?
When I moved to Atlanta. I just got tired of obstacles blocking me from what I wanted to do.
When Stephanie first came across my timeline, she seemed very nomadic, almost like a wanderer, searching for something. There was passion and adventure, but now there’s somehow peace, as well as focus. In my opinion, a working artist is born twice. The first time is when they discover their passion, the second is when they discover that passion could become a career. It’s truly remarkable to witness that growth in a person, to see the way they change when they find the true power of their passion. Stephanie isn’t wandering anymore, her road is clear.
Walk me through your first gig as a concert photographer.
This band from my hometown Spread the Dove was playing. My photos were terrible, but the band was really nice to me.
3 Breakfast must haves?
You’ve just been given all the power in the world to create the tour of your dreams. Pick 2 living and 2 dead to perform
Dead: Janis Joplin & Jimi Hendrix
Alive: Cage The Elephant and to be honest there are so many bands I love I can’t pick a fourth.
ALT Press? Rolling Stone? Kerrang? Or Rocksound?
Rolling Stone for sure
Shaky Knees, Coachella, AfroPunk, or Warped Tour?
Warped Tour is dead for now, and I feel like Shaky Knees has the strongest lineup I’ve seen this year.
You have a very unique style. I love concert photography and whenever I’m scrolling through Instagram I can always tell your work from others. For you, what makes a perfect photo?
I’m extra when I edit, cause I’m super critical and like to outdo myself. I like to capture life, and it can be pretty sporadic
Mosh pits or crowd surfing?
I’ve seen you travel with a few bands here and there, what’s tour life like?
Definitely not glamorous, but lots of laughs, priceless moments, and there’s a great bond formed through the experience. I love that I’ve been able to build that sense of trust and friendship with some of the bands I’ve traveled with, it gives us a chance to collaborate and experiment more to make things more unique.
1 band you’d pack up everything and go on a world tour with if you could?
Medicine For The People or Cage The Elephant.
Do you realize how dope you are?
Stephanie may be too humble to say it, but she’s definitely a legend in the making. Her work has already showcased defining moments for the artists she’s worked with, and she’ll continue to capture them as she moves forward. No doubt about it, Stephanie is going to be just as iconic as the artists she photographs.