In the last decade, Cleveland-based photographer Joe Kleon has built a huge portfolio of concert shots, producing work that is striking and evocative, as he’s become Cleveland’s premiere music photographer working today.
“A Decade of Decibels The Photography of Joe Kleon” will open at Space: ROCK, 15721 Waterloo Road in Cleveland, Ohio, with a reception from 6-10 pm Friday June 7.
June 7 has special significance for Kleon: it’s his tenth wedding anniversary. And he bought his first professional-quality camera to take on his honeymoon with his wife Nicole.
Kleon’s work grew out of his involvement in music. He was a radio announcer for 25 years, including a stint at WNCX, and worked as sound-effects tech for area Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. He started shooting for photos for Wish You Were Here and quickly recognized his true passion and gift.
In the last ten years, Kleon has photographed nearly 100 shows and events a year. This exhibit will feature top-notch artists like Rush, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Slash, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, and many more.
Kleon’s work has appeared in many newspapers, magazines, television commercials, and CD artwork.
While shooting concerts can be difficult and challenging, Kleon consistently produces shots that capture the artist’s personality and the excitement of the music in technically high-quality work.
“I love capturing the energy of a performance and the vibe of the venue,” he says. “I want viewers to be transported through my photos to the concert. I want them to feel the electricity in the air and the emotion of the music.”
Kleon tells us, “My favorite band to shoot was Rush, at Quicken Loans Arena, in October of 2012. They have been my favorite band since I was about 9 years old and shooting them was the ultimate “Rush!” Rush changed my life at a very young age and steered me toward a career in the music business. To have access to photograph them was a huge honor.”
But still a few bands remain on Joe’s photo bucket-list like “The Who, Rolling Stones, Robert Plant and country legend Roy Clark.”
A Decade of Decibels will run through the end of July. 25% of all sales will go to benefit the North Collinwood-based nonprofit Waterloo Alley Cat Project, which neuters and cares for feral cats. Space: ROCK is a project of nonprofit group Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present & Future. The gallery, which opened April 2013, showcases Cleveland music history through the work of photographers and artists who recorded it. Open 1-5 p.m. Sat & Sun.
Finally, Kleon offers advice for those looking to get into concert photography, saying, “Lots of local bands would be more than willing to let someone new to concert photography come out and shoot a show. Network with bands, find a few to shoot and expand from there. Once you have shot for a few months and have a decent portfolio of your best work, display it online and solicit bands for that first coveted paid gig!! Equipment does matter, especially when shooting shows in small clubs, with minimal lighting. However, you don’t have to spend thousands to get a good camera for concert shooting. Find a camera that does well with high ISO. Many mid range point and shoot cameras, for around $400-500 are a great place to start.”