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Interview: Dan Bassini, Photographer

Dan Bassini


Dan is a graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography, and contributor to Alternative Press Magazine, AMP, and Substream Music Press, and covers a lot of the pop-punk/hardcore/indie shows for The NJ Underground. When he isn't taking photos or at a show, he spends his time wishing he was. 

Dan was recently awarded 1st Place with his photo of The Chariot in The NJ Underground's 1st Annual Photo Contest. With the contest fresh in all of our minds, we wanted to touch base with each of the photographers who won to learn a bit more about them. Interview and photo critique below.


Tell us a little about yourself (education, hobbies, background):

Well, my name is Dan, I've been going to shows for almost 12 years now and shooting them for the last 3 years. I'm a graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography and my free time is usually spent watching netflix or at Pat's Diner in Trenton.


Where in New Jersey are you from?

I live in Hamilton Square, a small town bordering Trenton. 


Why did you become a photographer?

I was in a few bands throughout the years, but realized that playing music really wasn't for me. I still wanted to be a part of the industry in some way. Growing up around photography, it had always been an interest of mine but never really thought of it more than a hobby. I had a friend who pushed me to pursue it and it was natural progression that my love for music and photography came together. I noticed a lot of music photographers lacked the feeling and emotion of the moment in their photographs, and thats something I've always strived to capture.


Your camera and lens set-up when photographing a concert:

Currently I bring a Canon 5D, Canon lens: 17-40mm F/4L, 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye, 50mm F/1.8, and 85mm F/1.2L. Canon 580ex II Speedlite on camera, and if necessary two 430ex speedlites slaved to improve lighting.


If you had to choose one lens, which one would it be and why?

It would definitely be my 17-40mm. I probably shoot with this lens 90% of the time. I've always loved shooting wide because it allows you to get in the action and really pulls viewers into the picture. 


If you had to choose your favorite concert that you've shot, which would it be and why?

Oh wow, this is a tough one. It wouldn't be fair to name a festival so I would have to say my favorite show was The Wonder Years release show for The Upsides at the ICC in Boston. It was the end of January and about 16 degrees outside, but over 100 in this packed church rec room. My camera was immediately covered in sweat and my lens almost didn't stop fogging up in time for their set. Just the feeling and energy of that show was something that can't be matched. 


What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing live performances and concerts?

The most challenging thing is that you really don't have any control over the atmosphere or lighting of the venue. This is also what keeps it exciting. You have a brief window of time to get all your settings worked out and get the shots you need. If I know the lighting is going to be an issue, I set up 2 other speedlites to fire and brighten up the crowd or the background to add more dimension for the shots.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years time from now?

I would definitely love to still be shooting shows, but hopefully I will working somewhere in the photography industry full time. I love freelancing, but it's quite stressful. 


Something you’re still learning?

Photography is a constant learning process. No one quite works the same so I am always learning new things from other photographers and creative types. Whether its new lighting techniques, new editing workflow or even new ways to approach my website. My work is constantly evolving the more I learn. 


The Chariot

This was the winning photograph as it appears on my website. I decided present it as a diptych and include the photo of Josh throwing the drum because of the similarities in action. The Chariot are one of, if not the best live band around right now. One of their live shows should be on everyones bucket list, it is something you need to experience. I don't understand how they destroy their stuff every show, but still seem to play the same instruments every time I see them.


The Wonder Years

This photo is from The Upsides release show in Boston and really embodies what The Wonder Years are all about. Going to their shows is such a high energy experience and be ready from endless stage dives, from fans and band members alike. These guys will always be one of my favorites to work with. Theres a reason I've shot them 8 times in the past year. 



This photo is very important to me. It was taken at the Oceanport, NJ stop on Warped Tour 09. This was my first photo ever to be published, and was the first photo of mine ever on The NJ Underground! It opened a lot of doors for me, and was a finalist in the Best of College competition in 2010. Even though this photo was taken over 2 years ago, it still is one of my most memorable images.